What Do I Say on Form DS-260 If I Haven't Found My Vaccination Records?

Applicants for U.S. visas will be found inadmissible unless they can prove they've had certain vaccinations, or are immune due to having had the disease itself.

By , Attorney · Temple University Beasley School of Law

If you are applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, you must submit an electronic form called the DS-260, so as to apply for your visa through the National Visa Center (NVC). For more information about this process, please read What Happens Between I-130 Approval and Consular Interview.

The Department of State also provides a sample on its website.

One of the questions on DS-260 seems innocent enough, but can be tricky for immigrant visa applicants. It asks: "Do you have documentation to establish that you have received vaccinations in accordance with U.S. law?"

First of all, you must determine what types of vaccinations are required and whether you have already received them. The newest addition to the list is the COVID-19 or coronavirus vaccine.

Second, if you are missing one or more of the required vaccinations (or cannot locate your vaccination record), you must figure out how to get documentation that will be acceptable to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will attend your interview.

Read on for additional information about how to do this.

How Should I Answer the DS-260 Question About Vaccinations?

The simple answer, if you have received the required vaccinations and have documentation proving this, is to say, "Yes" and move on with the other questions on the DS-260.

However, if you are still in the process of gathering that information and are unsure whether you have this proof yet, or still need to make an appointment to receive these vaccines, the best practice is to answer "No."

You will be given the opportunity to explain in the next comment box. Here you should write: "The applicant is in the process of reviewing vaccination records and will obtain the required vaccinations on or before the date of the medical exam."

This gives you time to determine whether or not you need to get vaccines, after submitting your DS-260 to the NVC in a timely fashion.

How Can I Obtain My Vaccination Record If I Don't Yet Have One?

Ideally, you will have a copy of your vaccination record and can compare it with the list of required vaccinations for U.S. immigrants listed on the Department of State (DOS) website.

If any vaccinations are missing or if you are unable to locate all your vaccination records, you should make a medical appointment to obtain any needed shots (or, alternatively, tests for immunity, as described below). If the vaccination record is not in English, take your full vaccination record to an approved translator.

You will also need to make an appointment with an approved panel physician for a medical examination prior to your interview, but it is not necessary that you get vaccinations from this particular physician. As long as your own doctor can provide a verifiable vaccination or immunity record that you can bring to the panel physician, that will be enough.

Instructions on the DOS website give the documentation requirements and immigrant visa application process for each specific consulate or embassy, including a list of approved translators and panel physicians. It is always good practice to review this information even before you are scheduled for your interview. The first three letters of your application receipt number will show you the embassy or consulate at which you will interview (for example, "JAK" for Jakarta, Indonesia).

When Is Immunity to an Illness Enough to Avoid Visa Denial?

With a few types of diseases, the U.S. government will accept laboratory evidence of your immunity (as in, an antibody test) in place of proof of vaccination. This is possible for:

  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • polio, and
  • varicella.

In fact, if you can give a reliable written or oral history of having had varicella disease, you do not even need to obtain laboratory confirmation.

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