When an individual applies for a green card or chooses to legally immigrate to the United States, they are required to complete a medical exam. If the person is abroad, this is done through a panel physician. If the person is in the United States, this is completed by a USCIS Civil Surgeon. The medical exam involves various tests and includes vaccinations.
As of October 2021, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC) requirements, all applicants seeking to obtain a green card must be vaccinated against COVID.
The COVID Vaccine is a Requirement
For purposes of the health-related grounds of inadmissibility, everyone seeking a green card must be vaccinated against COVID.
Health Related Waivers for the Vaccine
A panel physician or a USCIS civil surgeon may, in certain cases, waive the requirement of vaccinations only in the following scenarios:
- The vaccine is not age appropriate;
- The vaccine is contraindicated;
A vaccine may be contraindicated by the physician if the applicant has a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose or is allergic to a component or ingredient of the COVID-19 vaccine. Outside of these two exceptions, panel physicians and civil surgeons cannot waive the vaccine requirement.
Waiver to the Vaccine Based on Religion or Strong Objection
An applicant may waive the vaccine requirements if they have a genuine religious belief that prohibit them from obtaining the vaccine, or that they otherwise have a strong moral objection. In these two scenarios, people with a strong objection to the vaccine can ask the panel physician to not vaccinate them against COVID and later apply for a waiver with USCIS.
USCIS will then find the applicant inadmissible, but the applicant can file an I-601 Waiver, so that they can seek an exemption to the vaccine based on either a religious objection or moral objection. The requirements to succeed on this waiver are:
- You must show that you oppose all vaccines. You cannot pick and choose which vaccines are you are opposed to;
- The religious belief or moral conviction must be sincere; and
- The objection must be based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The waiver may be granted as a matter of discretion. We understand that the COVID vaccine is a sensitive issue for some of our clients. If you are seeking a green card and wish to waive the COVID vaccine requirements, please contact our office for assistance with his waiver.