Applicants for permanent resident status (green cards) must show proof of being vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning October 1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it classifies COVID-19 as a communicable disease of public health significance. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person’s failure to be vaccinated against certain diseases that are preventable will make them ineligible for a green card. The goal of this law is to prevent the unnecessary spread of communicable diseases.
The CDC further said that proof of vaccination must be provided as a part of the medical exam that all applicants must undergo before they will be issued their green card. There has been discussion about whether a negative COVID test was sufficient, but the CDC has now clearly said that it is not.
This guidance will only apply to immigrants who are inside the U.S. and will be applying for adjustment of status. It does not currently apply to foreign nationals living abroad who will be applying for their Immigrant Visas at a U.S. Embassy.
There are potential waivers available so that a person can still receive their green card even if they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Potential waivers include the following:
- Not Age Appropriate: There is not currently a vaccine available for children younger than 12.
- Not Routinely Available: If the COVID-19 vaccine is not routinely available in the state where the civil surgeon practices, or if there would be a significant delay in administering the vaccine due to limited supply, then a waiver would be available.
- Medical, Religious or Moral Convictions. A waiver may also be available due to the applicant’s refusal to be vaccinated due to medical, religious, or moral convictions.
The civil surgeon administering the exam must document the applicant’s vaccination history on Form I-693 and it will become part of the immigrant’s file.