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USCIS to Require COVID-19 Vaccine of “Green Card” Applicants

1 Sep

Effective October 1, 2021, applicants for permanent residence (“green card”) must be vaccinated against COVID-19, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified as a “Class A inadmissible condition.” The CDC explained that the COVID-19 vaccination meets the criteria for required vaccinations and is a requirement for applicants eligible for the vaccine even if they provide evidence of immunity, recovery from a prior COVID-19 infection or a negative COVID-19 test.  

The new vaccine requirement applies to green card applicants when obtaining their required medical examination with a designated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) civil surgeon whether applying in the United States or via application for an immigrant visa or refugee status at a U.S. consulate abroad. With respect to I-485 adjustment applicants, the CDC has stated that the applicant “must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon in person before completion of the medical examination.” Acceptable vaccines include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Other vaccines listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) are also acceptable for applicants applying through U.S. consulates outside the United States. 

Waivers are available when the vaccine is not age-appropriate, the vaccine is medically contraindicated, or the applicant does not have access to one of the acceptable vaccines in their home country. Applicants may also apply for an individual waiver on religious or moral grounds. 

Reportedly the Biden administration is developing plans for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for almost all foreign visitors to the United States, but details regarding exceptions and waivers are yet unavailable. 

As always, Foster will continue to monitor developments in immigration requirements and will make future updates available via the Foster website at