Beginning October 1, 2021, most non-citizens and refugees who are applying for lawful permanent residence (i.e., a green card) through either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State (DOS) will be required to have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The New Rule
Under new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 vaccine is now required for eligible non-citizen applicants due to the vaccine being recommended by both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC for the age-appropriate, general U.S. population. It joins a long-list of required vaccines including polio, measles, mumps, etc.
The Law Behind the Rule
The legal authority mandating non-citizen applicants to be vaccinated can be found in Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), section 212(a)(1)(A)(ii). This section provides that a non-citizen “who seeks admission as an immigrant, or who seeks adjustment of status to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and who has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases…” is inadmissible to the United States.
Exceptions to the Rule
Despite this new requirement, there are exceptions to the new rule. For example, blanket waivers exempting the COVID-19 vaccine requirement may be issued where a non-citizen applicant 1) is too young to receive the vaccine, 2) has a medical contraindication to the vaccine, or 3) does not have access to an approved COVID-19 vaccine in their home countries. In addition, individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with USCIS.
Moreover, all non-citizen or refugee applicants who received their medical examination from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician prior to the October 1, 2021 deadline are exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, even if their applications are adjudicated after October 1, 2021.
The Law Office of George K. Gomez, P.A. is Here for You
The question of whether you are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or whether you are exempt is a case-by-case question. The Law Office of George K. Gomez, P.A., can evaluate your case history and help determine your best path moving forward.
For more information, visit The Law Office of George K. Gomez, P.A. on the web at www.gomezlawfirm.org or contact us for a consultation with an Immigration Attorney in Miami-Dade County, FL. Our telephone number is (305) 539-0991.