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Everything You Need To Know About the U.S. Immigrant Visa Vaccination Requirements

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September 28, 2022

Key Takeaways

Immigrating to the United States is a multistep process. As part of the process, you’ll need to undergo a medical exam with an approved physician. During your medical exam, the physician will complete a vaccination chart. You’ll submit this to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of your green card application. In this article, we explain the U.S. vaccination requirements. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about them.

Table of Contents

What Are the U.S. Immigrant Visa Vaccination Requirements?

There are two organizations that help determine vaccination requirements for immigrants: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The ACIP provides guidance to the CDC about vaccinations. The CDC reviews the ACIP’s recommendations and then decides which vaccines to require to protect public health in the United States. The CDC also gives technical instructions to civil surgeons who provide immigration medical exams.

The CDC decides which vaccines are required by looking at certain criteria. The criteria are:

  • The vaccine must be age-appropriate for the immigration applicant.
  • The vaccine must protect against a disease that has the potential to cause an outbreak.
  • The vaccine must protect against a disease that has been eliminated or is in the process of being eliminated in the United States (for example, COVID-19 vaccination requirements).

Vaccines that meet these criteria become required vaccines. Visa applicants for any immigration benefit must meet these vaccination requirements. These criteria are also applied to vaccines the ACIP recommends that are not specifically listed in U.S. immigration law.

What Vaccines Will You Need?

Currently, vaccines for the following diseases are required for individuals seeking U.S. citizenship:

  • COVID-19
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rotavirus
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Varicella
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Seasonal influenza (for appointments during flu season: October 1 to March 31)

As of 2009, vaccines against herpes zoster (shingles) and HPV are no longer required.

What Happens if You Refuse To Take the Vaccines?

If you have a moral or religious objection to vaccinations and you refuse to take a required vaccine, USCIS may deny your adjustment of status application. This denial is based on “grounds of inadmissibility.” These are certain rules that allow USCIS to deny your entrance to the U.S.or to deport you if you’re already in the U.S.

If you have refused to receive the required vaccines, you must tell the physician at your immigration medical exam why you chose to do so.

In the following circumstances, you may be able to get a waiver under current federal immigration law:

  • You are opposed to all types of vaccinations.
  • Your objection is based on a sincere religious belief or moral conviction.

To get a wavier you must file a form. There are a few different waiver forms. The one you’ll use depends on the adjustment category you are using. Most people seeking an immigrant visa, permanent residence status, or other immigration benefits will file Form I-601: Application for Wavier of Grounds of Inadmissibility. If you want to apply for a waiver of a medical condition or certain inadmissibility grounds listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you will file Form I-690.

Are There Exceptions to the Visa Vaccination Requirements?

Protecting public health is a priority, so there are not many exemptions to the vaccination requirements for green card applicants.

In some circumstances, adopted children age 10 or younger who are applying for immediate relative visas are not required to receive vaccinations before arriving in the United States. However, their U.S. parents must submit an affidavit that says they will ensure that their child will receive necessary vaccinations. This must happen within 30 days of admission or at the earliest time the vaccination is medically appropriate.

If you are pregnant, the civil surgeon will evaluate the vaccines you can receive during pregnancy. If the civil surgeon cannot safely administer a required vaccine, they must note this on your Form I-693: Report of Medical Examination. This will be noted as “contraindicated,” which means not recommended.

If you are opposed to any type of vaccination, you can request a waiver based on sincere religious beliefs or moral convictions. You must provide evidence to support your claim and pay the applicable fee to file the waiver.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Immigrant Visa Vaccination Requirements

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the immigrant visa vaccination requirements and medical examinations.

Will I Have To Retake Required Vaccines I Already Took?

No. Your vaccination records will be reviewed by the civil surgeon during your medical examination. The civil surgeon will make sure that your proof of earlier vaccinations is acceptable. You must have documentation to prove you have received required vaccines that are age-appropriate for you. You should bring this information to your medical exam.

Can I Get Any of the Vaccinations Before the U.S. Medical Examination?

Yes. vaccines can be given before, during, or after your first visit to the panel physician. However, the medical examination will not be considered complete until one of the following happens:

  • The vaccine requirement is completed.
  • A blanket waiver is given.
  • A religious or moral conviction waiver has been requested from USCIS.
  • The applicant has refused vaccination and is determined to be inadmissible.

What if a Required Vaccine Is Unavailable?

If a vaccine is not available at your immigration medical exam, the civil surgeon should refer you to another provider that offers the vaccine. After you receive the vaccine, return with written proof of it to the civil surgeon so they can complete Form I-693.

If a vaccine is not available in the United States, USCIS may grant a blanket waiver. If a vaccine is not available in your country, the panel physician should note this on the medical exam form.

The CDC monitors vaccines that are not available or that are in short supply. If the CDC finds that there is a nationwide shortage of a vaccine, it will recommend that the USCIS post an information message on USCIS.gov. This message will contain information for immigration applicants and civil surgeons outlining when/if the vaccine will still be required.

Do I Have To Pay for the Vaccines?

The applicant is responsible for paying any reasonable fee directly to the civil surgeon for all vaccinations. Be sure to ask about the price of the vaccinations before you receive them.

What Happens if My Vaccination Chart Is Incomplete?

USCIS will not accept your Form I-693 if it is incomplete. The vaccination chart must have at least one entry in each row for each vaccine to qualify as a complete form. If you submit an incomplete vaccination chart during your medical exam, USCIS may return Form I-693 and instruct you to correct this.

How Do I Know Which Vaccines Are Required?

Civil surgeons are required to follow specific technical instructions during their medical exams. The CDC publishes these technical instructions and the vaccination requirements. This includes a detailed list of all required vaccines.

Can the U.S. Government Force Me To Be Vaccinated?

No. However, if you refuse to receive a required vaccine, your application for a green card and legal permanent resident status may be denied.

How Do the Vaccination Criteria Affect Children?

All immigrant applicants, including children, must receive all required age-appropriate vaccines. ACIP recommendations determine which vaccines are age-appropriate.

Conclusion

The medical exam is an important part of the green card application process. This can be complicated, but help is available. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the green card application process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. If our app isn’t a good fit, we may be able to refer you to an experienced immigration attorney to help. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!

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