8.27.21

Effective October 1, COVID-19 vaccination will be included in the list of vaccines that are required as part of the medical examination that is an integral part of applying for a “green card.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that COVID meets the definition of a communicable disease that requires quarantining under the statute and Executive Orders applicable to green cards.

As we have reported recently, an applicant seeking a “green card” must file a Form I-485 to adjust status to that of a permanent resident. In connection with this filing, the applicant must have a medical examination and provide proof of required vaccinations. If the applicant passes the medical examination, the designated physician from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, which is usually filed with the I-485 application.

Starting October 1, I-485 applicants will be required to provide documentation to their USCIS physicians that they have received all required doses of a COVID vaccine -- either Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.

If the Form I-693 can be completed by the USCIS physician before October 1, the COVID vaccination requirement does not apply. However, a medical examination scheduled for late September may not be soon enough. If the applicant waits too long, he or she may not be able to provide the physician with proof of all other required vaccinations -- such as for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, and hepatitis B -- in time to allow for completion of the Form I-693 before October 1. Moreover, the validity of a previously filed Form I-693 may expire, requiring a new medical examination. (A Form I-693 is generally valid for two years, or for four years if filed by September 30 with Form I-485.)

Thus, green card applicants should schedule their medical examinations to take place as soon as possible and bring all their required vaccination records to the appointment. However, they should keep in mind that the Form I-693 must be signed and dated no more than 60 days from the filing of the Form I-485.

Exceptions

Even after October 1, blanket waivers are available for applicants under the following circumstances:

  • Where the vaccine is not age appropriate, such as where the applicant is too young to receive the vaccine.

  • Where the applicant has a documented medical condition that makes vaccination inadvisable, including a severe reaction to the first dose of the vaccine.

  • If the vaccine is not routinely available where the physician practices. This includes situations in which supplies are so limited that a significant delay could occur.

Individuals can also request waivers based on religious or moral objections to the vaccines. These requests must be filed with the USCIS.

If you have questions about these changes, please contact any member of Constangy’s Immigration Practice Group.

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