COVID-19 Vaccinations Now Required for Applicants Applying for Green Card or Refugee Status

October 1, 2021 Whether you apply for refugee entry or an immigrant visa and green card through an overseas U.S. consulate or apply for a green card via adjustment of status while living in the United States, you will need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its guidance to civil surgeons concerning COVID-19 vaccine requirements for applicants for refugee status or a U.S. green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence or "LPR" status). Accordingly, both U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS) will begin requiring COVID-19 vaccination of all applicants for refugee or LPR status, with some exceptions. This means that, whether you apply for refugee entry or an immigrant visa and green card through an overseas U.S. consulate or apply for a green card via adjustment of status while living in the United States, you will need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In fact, you'll need to receive the complete vaccine set sooner than you will the other vaccinations required for U.S. entry. It's normally fine to wait until the last minute and have the physician who does your immigration medical exam and report administer whatever vaccines you need from the list of those required, such as for measles or rubella. But because many of the COVID-19 vaccines require two separate shots, with weeks in between, you will need to get your full vaccination set done ahead of time, then show proof to the examining physician.

Exceptions will be made across the board for applicants who:

  • are too young to receive the coronavirus vaccine
  • have a medical contraindication to the vaccine (but you'll need to provide proof; one's word alone is not enough), or
  • have no access to one of the COVID-19 vaccines in their countries.

In addition, applicants can individually request a waiver from USCIS based on religious or moral convictions. You will need to provide documents backing up these convictions, such as a letter from a leader at your place of worship.

NO exception will be made for applicants who can show evidence of immunity or prior COVID-19 infection. You will still need to have the vaccination done.

Effective Date: October 1, 2021