COVID-19 Vaccine Required for Permanent Residence Applicants

Long before COVID-19 (remember those days?), the medical exam and vaccination requirements for permanent resident status began. Those medical requirements were implemented for green card applicants, and others required to complete the immigration medical exam, to prove that they did not have a health-related condition that could make them inadmissible under U.S. immigration law. The medical exam remains, and a new vaccination requirement has been added to the list: the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Adjustment of Status:

Foreign nationals seeking to adjust status to permanent residence are required to submit a completed Form I-693 Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record by a designated civil surgeon. USCIS announced that starting October 1, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was added to the list of vaccination requirements. For U.S. immigration processes that require the I-693 medical exam, such as adjustment of status, an applicant must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series (one or two doses, depending on the vaccine) before a civil surgeon can complete and sign the immigration medical exam. The most updated edition of the Form I-693 immigration medical exam, dated 9/13/2021, now reflects the change, listing COVID-19 vaccine among the list of vaccination requirements. (You can find a designated civil surgeon for the I-693 immigration medical examination here.)

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Immigrant Visas:

Similarly, a foreign national seeking an immigrant visa abroad to enter the United States as a permanent resident requires a medical exam and history of certain vaccinations. The U.S. Department of State released their own announcement, confirming the addition of the COVID-19 vaccine for immigrant visa applicants. The CDC has also released its guidance for physicians abroad conducting medical examinations for immigrant visa purposes, confirming that applicants must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series (one or two doses, depending on the vaccine) before the immigration exam is considered complete and the immigrant visa issued.

Updated General Vaccination Requirements:

Given the recent addition of the COVID-19 vaccine, foreign nationals seeking to (1) adjust status to permanent residence (“green card”) in the U.S. or (2) receive an immigrant visa abroad to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident, U.S. immigration law requires vaccinations for the following diseases:

  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Hepatitis B
  • COVID-19
  • Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices

Are there Exemptions and Exceptions to the Vaccination Requirements?

Blanket waivers of vaccine requirements, including for COVID-19, are available in certain situations, if deemed:

  • not age-appropriate;
  • contraindicated because of a medical condition;
  • not routinely available where the civil surgeon practices; or
  • limited in supply and would cause a significant delay for an applicant to receive the vaccination.

Applicants for permanent resident status can also seek individual waivers based on religious beliefs or moral convictions by filing Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Required for Citizenship?

You may be asking if the COVID-19 is required for the naturalization application process to become a U.S. citizen. For now, there is no COVID-19 vaccine requirement under U.S. immigration law for naturalization applicants or for those who are already lawful permanent residents. For example, the COVID-19 vaccine is not required for the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization process. The vaccine is also not required for the Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence process of moving from the 2-year resident card (“green card”) to the 10-year resident card.

However, even if the COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen, the venue where the naturalization oath ceremony is held may have their own COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Such a rule could prevent an unvaccinated permanent resident who was approved for naturalization from attending their own ceremony and becoming a U.S. citizen!

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine requirements under U.S. immigration law or any of the immigration processes addressed here, reach out to our legal team today. You can schedule a consultation with us by reaching out online or at (312) 702-1782. Se habla español!