The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced a new policy under which all green card applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As part of the green card application process, all people must undergo a medical examination by a civil surgeon. This surgeon will take a complete medical history, perform a physical exam, ensure all required vaccines are obtained, and screen for mental health, sexually transmitted diseases and various other illnesses that have been deemed to be against the interests of the general public.
Under the new direction, all green card applicants are required to provide the civil surgeon with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before the medical examination is completed. Acceptable vaccinations include two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, two doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) single dose COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals are allowed to begin the physical examination process while completing the required 21/28 day immunization schedule for two-dose vaccines. However, the examination cannot be concluded, nor the medical report issued, until the civil surgeon has received confirmation that the vaccination schedule has been completed. This means that applicants can receive the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, then report to the civil surgeon’s office to complete various elements of the medical examination (such as their physical exam, screening for various diseases, and the vaccination history analysis in addition to COVID-19), receive the second dose of the vaccine in 21 or 28 days, then return to the civil surgeon’s office to complete the remaining segments of the exam. People who do not have certain other required vaccines, such as those against tetanus or measles, can get them at the same time as, or after, the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, provided that all vaccines are received before the end of the medical examination.
This new requirement applies to all medical examinations performed on or after October 1, 2021. Those who have already obtained their medical exam are exempt from the requirement as long as the report is submitted within the validity period. Anyone who needs to obtain a new medical report will be subject to compulsory vaccination if the examination is carried out on or after the effective date.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be presented in the form of a vaccination record. This would include either an official vaccination record or a copy of the applicant’s medical file with entries made by the doctor or medical staff concerned. The dossier must indicate (1) the date (s) of vaccination (month, day and year), (2) the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine and (3) the lot number. Self-reported vaccinations without written documentation will not be accepted. Additionally, the policy states that laboratory tests for COVID-19 immunity are unacceptable and that people who have recovered from the virus should always follow the full immunization schedule.
General exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement include the following:
- Applicants who are not of age for which the vaccine can be administered. At present, people under the age of 12 are not allowed to receive the vaccine and are therefore exempt from compulsory vaccination.
- People who have a contraindication or a precaution to formulate the vaccine. Those who have had a severe reaction to the first dose are exempted from receiving the second vaccination.
- If the vaccines are only available in limited quantities, that is, in a state where the vaccine is not systematically available and the wait to receive the vaccination would cause a significant delay for the applicant, then the no one would be exempt from the vaccination requirement.
Other categories of people who could be exempted from being vaccinated against COVID-19 are those who request a waiver on religious or moral grounds. These applicants are required to submit a waiver request to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These requests are granted at the discretion of the agency, and individuals will only be exempted from the vaccination requirement if the agency approves the request.
Applicants who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in part or in whole, do not fall into one of the general exemption categories, or have not obtained an exemption from USCIS on the based on religious or moral beliefs will be found inadmissible to the United States. States. As a result, these people will not be eligible for a green card.