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Immigration Update: COVID Vaccine Requirements for Immigrant Visa Applicants

Wednesday, September 29, 2021Written by: Sarah E. Wilkerson

When applying for certain immigrant visas, such as an application to adjust status, individuals must complete a medical exam with an authorized civil surgeon or panel physician. The exam is documented through Form I-693, which must be submitted with the immigrant visa application. The purpose of this exam is to determine whether the applicant would be considered inadmissible on heath-related grounds. During the exam, the civil surgeon or panel physician reviews the applicant's vaccination record to ensure that the applicant has complied with all vaccination requirements.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

The CDC has recently added COVID-19 to the list of Class A Inadmissible Conditions. Therefore, beginning October 1, 2021, applicants who must complete a medical exam will be required to submit proof that they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The civil surgeon or panel physician completing the Form I-693 must physically inspect and confirm the documents proving the applicant received the COVID-19 vaccine, and the doses and formulation of the vaccine must be documented.

Self-reported vaccine doses will not be accepted as sufficient proof. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Waivers

If the Form I-693 was completed before October 1, 2021 and remains valid, then the applicant will not be required to have the COVID-19 vaccination.

The civil surgeon or panel physician may also grant banket waivers to the following individuals:

  • Applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine,
  • Applicants who have a medical contraindication to the vaccine,
  • Applicants who would experience a significant delay in receiving the vaccine due to limited supply, or
  • Applicants who were examined in an area where approved vaccines are “not routinely available."

Those who would like a waiver based on moral or religious beliefs must submit a Form I-601 with their applications. The USCIS will review the request and determine whether to grant the waiver.

The CDC specifically mentioned that those who refuse an approved COVID-19 vaccination that is "medically appropriate and available to the applicant" will be considered inadmissible to the U.S.

The COVID-19 vaccine requirements will likely continuously change as new policy is implemented. If you would like additional information about how immigrant visa applicants will be affected by these changes, we encourage you to contact our office at (318) 255-9299.

Tags: Immigration

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