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USCIS unveils new Covid-19 vaccination requirement for green card applicants

Henni Espinosa | TFC News USA

Posted at Sep 16 2021 01:36 PM

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Those who want to apply to immigrate to the U.S. will have to show proof that they've been vaccinated against Covid-19. The new rule covers those applying for permanent residency or anyone else who must undergo an immigration medical exam.

"The new rule requiring Covid-19 vaccinations applies to those who are applicants for immigrant visas, either at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through an application for adjustment of status or those undergoing consular processing at the US Embassy in Manila," immigration expert Attorney Lou Tancinco explained.

According to USCIS, the new policy takes effect on October 1. "So if you're a visa applicant and you will need to get a medical examination by October 1, 2021, you will need to show proof of your Covid-19 vaccination. Medical examinations taken before will not be affected by this new rule," Tancinco pointed out.

For those who have been issued their immigrant visas and have not departed yet for the U.S., Tancinco said, "the US Embassy already looked into their vaccination compliance. If the visas are issued to travelers, more likely they will not need to show that they are fully vaccinated. However, they will be subjected to the requirement of the CDC, which requires them to have a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before traveling."

The new requirement exempts children who are too young to get the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as people with medical conditions that prevent them from doing so. There is also a waiver process for those who cite religion as reason for their refusal to get vaccinated. According to Tancinco, "those who refuse, with valid reasons, from getting vaccinations may be denied from getting their green card applications and if there are no available vaccinations in the country of their origin, there must be proof of non-availability, and ask for a waiver of the Covid-19 vaccination."

Written documentation proving Covid-19 vaccination is required for this new policy, which may include an official vaccination record, a medical chart with doctor's entries, or attestation from a medical personnel. Approved Covid-19 vaccines are those authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration or those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.