A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Friday, August 27, 2021

COVID Vaccinations Required for Green Card Applicants Starting 10/1/2021

Starting October 1st, 2021, applicants for U.S. permanent resident status ("green card") within the United States must show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. Some limited exceptions apply to this general requirement.  

A foreign national may apply for U.S. green card through the legal process of adjustment of status within the United States.  As part of the application process, the applicant must submit a medical examination report with their Form I-485, Applicant to Adjust Status.  This medical report, entitled "Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record" or Form I-693, must be prepared by a qualified civil surgeon under the guidelines of the CDC.  

Recently, the CDC provided updated guidance for civil surgeons related to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for individuals applying for adjustment of status. The guidance specifies that adjustment applicants who receive their medical exams on or after 10/1/2021 must provide proof of their COVID vaccinations, in addition to other existing required vaccinations.  

This change will only affect an applicant who completes Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, on or after October 1, 2021. If Form I-693 is completed before October 1, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required.

Under the revised CDC guidance, the Civil Surgeon must physically inspect and confirm the applicant's documentation that they have received all appropriate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Examples of such documentation includes a vaccination record card and a copy of the applicant's medical chart.  Self-reported claims of vaccinations without written documentation will not be accepted. The Civil Surgeon must complete the I-693 form and and document the COVID-19 formulation and the number of doses given.

The are several exceptions to this requirement including applicants (1) who are too young to receive the vaccine. (2) who have a valid medical reason not to receive the vaccine, (3) who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their countries.  An applicant may also apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with USCIS.

Finally, CDC also clarifies that COVID vaccinations can now be given at any time, without regard to the timing of other vaccinations.  CDC has provided example timelines for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines.  It is unclear if other types of COVID vaccines will be accepted by USCIS at this point.  

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 

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