From October 1, green cards will be issued only to immigrants vaccinated against COVID-19
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)From October 1, 2021, green card applicants will have to confirm that they have received the full COVID-19 vaccine series in order to be considered eligible for permanent residence. The department has added COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations that are already required from those who plan to receive a green card. Writes about it Fragomen.
The new vaccine requirements will be included in the regular medical check-ups required to both adjust the status of applicants applying for a green card in the United States and immigrant visa applicants applying to US embassies and consulates abroad.
When the new requirement enters into force, green card applicants attending a medical checkup will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with a vaccine authorized for use in the United States or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). Self-reported vaccinations will not be accepted without written documentation.
Only vaccination records that include the dates (month, day, and year) of doses received are allowed. The name or manufacturer and batch number must also be indicated. The document should not appear modified. Self-reported vaccination data without written documentation is unacceptable, explains in CDC.
Physicians must document all permissible vaccination history on Form I-693, which will become the applicant's permanent vaccination record. If the COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series, both doses must be documented.
If the applicant is not yet fully vaccinated and the vaccine is available to the examining physician, he or she is allowed to vaccinate the applicant. However, the applicant must receive the full COVID-19 vaccine series prior to the completion of the medical examination, so the case may be delayed if the applicant attends the examination unvaccinated.
The new CDC policy includes the following instructions regarding waivers and testing to correct status and obtain an immigrant visa:
- An exception. Exceptions to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will apply to applicants who are below the minimum age limit for available vaccines, as well as those who can document a medical contraindication. In addition, under certain circumstances, if the COVID-19 vaccine is not available in the jurisdiction of the examining physician, an exemption may be issued to the applicant.
- Refusal to vaccinate based on religious or moral beliefs. If an applicant objects to the COVID-19 vaccination for religious or moral reasons, they must submit a request for denial to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and they will determine if an exception can be made. Neither the attending physician nor the CDC can do this.
- Immunity test. The CDC does not recommend laboratory tests for immunity to COVID-19 as part of a medical examination. Applicants should receive the vaccine regardless of immunity or previous COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that this is because the duration of immunity due to natural infection is still being investigated and may not protect the applicant throughout the entire immigration process.
- CDC will also implement some additional protocols for foreign nationals applying for an immigrant visa abroad at US embassies and consulates.
- COVID-19 test: candidates should be tested for infection if they report symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of enrollment or during a medical examination. Inspections will be postponed until they meet the criteria for exiting isolation. In addition, testing for asymptomatic candidates two years of age or older may be required at the discretion of the physician to ensure safety.
- Close contacts of people with COVID-19. Immigrant visa applicants who are in close contact with an infected COVID-19 will not be able to undergo a medical examination until they have served 14 days of quarantine.
If the applicant refuses one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine that are medically appropriate for the applicant, it must be documented that the vaccine requirements have not been met and the applicant refuses to be vaccinated. This applicant is a Class A applicant and is not allowed in the United States.
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Beginning October 1, green card applicants who attend medical examinations without confirmation of full COVID-19 vaccination are likely to face delays in their cases, unless they are exempted under one of the categories.
For international airline passengers two years of age or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recent recovery from infection with the virus to travel to the United States.
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