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COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for Green Cards

For those wishing to obtain green cards in the United States, the list of requirements is long. And now, receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is being added to that list.

The New Mandate

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), green card applicants must prove they have received a complete COVID-19 vaccination to be deemed eligible for permanent residence. This new rule takes effect on October 1, 2021.

This requirement stipulates that the civil surgeon who performs the required medical examination for the approval of permanent residence must review documentation and confirm that the applicant received all doses of the vaccine. If applicants have been partially vaccinated, they are allowed to complete the medical exam at a later date, after being fully vaccinated. The CDC has stated that acceptable proof of COVID-19 vaccination includes a vaccination record (copy or original) or a copy of a medical chart with applicable entries made by a medical professional.

If the civil surgeon has access to the COVID-19 vaccine at the time of the medical examination, the applicant can be vaccinated at that time. Obviously, since there is a wait time between receiving the first and second doses of most COVID-19 vaccines, approval will be delayed if the applicant is unvaccinated. The applicant could opt for receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose, if it is available.

Ongoing Vaccination Requirement

Although the COVID-19 vaccine is a new directive for obtaining permanent residence and refugee status, the vaccine requirement is an ongoing necessity. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), section 212(a)(1)(A)(ii), clearly states that to be found admissible as permanent residents to the United States, foreign nationals must provide evidence that they have received “vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.” The COVID-19 vaccine is now included on the list of requirements under this section of the INA.

Exceptions and Advice

It is important to note that refugees and green card applicants who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine will be considered inadmissible to the United States. Nevertheless, waivers are available for applicants who have medical conditions that contraindicate the vaccine or are too young to receive the vaccine. In addition, those with religious convictions that prohibit the vaccine are allowed to apply for individual waivers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. Department of State is expected to provide more information about vaccines in subsequent announcements.

Green card applicants who have questions about this vaccine requirement may wish to seek legal counsel. The experienced immigration attorneys at Cotney can review your situation and make the appropriate recommendations. We are here to provide answers to your concerns and help guide you through the U.S. immigration process.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.