All immigrants to the U.S. must pass a medical examination prior to their visa interview. One of the criteria determined at the medical examination is whether the intending immigrant has received vaccinations required to be eligible to immigrate.

Beginning October 1, 2021, most immigrants will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before receiving their immigrant visa. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Jannsen Johnson & Johnson and also those approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization: Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac (as of October 5, 2021)

As with most required vaccinations, there are waivers available for the COVID-19 vaccine if it is determined that the vaccine is not “medically appropriate”.

During the medical exam, if the vaccine is not medically appropriate, the examining doctor should indicate the reason on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693).  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will then waive the vaccine requirement for the immigrant. Unlike most other waivers for grounds of inadmissibility, a separate waiver application is not required for an officer to grant a waiver for the vaccination requirement.  This is referred to as a “blanket waiver’

Not “medically appropriate” reasons for a blanket waiver for the COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Not Age-Appropriate

For COVID-19 vaccines, the age at which a particular vaccine can be administered differs between vaccines. If the immigrant is younger than the lowest age limit for the approved COVID-19 vaccine, a blanket waiver may be available. Moreover, if there is an age restriction in the country, for example, the vaccine is only being given to people over the age of 65 and the immigrant is younger than 65, a waiver may be available.

  • Contraindication

If an immigrant has a known contraindication (negative reaction) or precaution to the COVID-19 vaccine that is available in the country, or if the immigrant has had a severe reaction to the first dose, a waiver may be available.

  • Not routinely available

If none of the approved COVID-19 vaccines are routinely available in the country where the immigrant is taking the medical examination, or if an approved COVID-19 vaccine is available to the immigrant but limited supply would cause significant delay for the immigrant to receive it, a waiver may be available.

  • Religious or moral convictions

If an immigrant objects to vaccination based on religious or moral beliefs, this will be documented on the immigrant’s medical examination form.  However, this is not a blanket waiver, and the immigrant must submit a waiver request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which will determine if the waiver is granted.

If you have questions about the new rules for COVID-19 vaccinations, you can contact us at info@enterlinepartners.com and speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

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Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.