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Immigration E-Alert

USCIS and State Department to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Permanent Residence Applicants

Starting October 1, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") and the U.S. Department of State will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all applicants applying lawful permanent residence (green card), with some exceptions.

Specifically, all applicants who receive their medical examination from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician on or after October 1, 2021, must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination. This change will impact anyone who completes Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, on or after October 1, 2021. If Form I-693 is completed before October 1, 2021, and remains valid, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required.

Please note that medical examinations have limited validity, especially if submitting them to USCIS prior to receiving a Request for Evidence specifically requesting the medical examination.

The Civil Surgeon must physically inspect and confirm the applicant's documentation that they have received all appropriate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The proper review of vaccination documentation will be in the form of a vaccination record, copy of a medical chart with physician entries, or by appropriate medical personnel. Self-reported vaccine doses without written documentation will not be accepted. The I-693 form must be completed by the Civil Surgeon and document the COVID-19 formulation and the number of doses given.

Exceptions: Blanket waivers are available for applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine, have a medical contraindication to the vaccine, or who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their countries (if applying for a green card abroad). In addition, individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with USCIS. More information about this development can be found through the following CDC resources:

  • CDC Requirements for Immigrant Medical Examinations: COVID-19 Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeon

  • CDC Requirements for Immigrant Medical Examinations: COVID-19 Technical Instructions for Panel Physicians

USCIS will be updating the Form I-693 and Instructions soon, upon completion of the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”) process.

In addition, as a reminder, as part of the CDC’s “Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States,” all air passengers coming to the United States, including applicants for refugee or immigrant, are required to show a negative COVID-19 test obtained within 3 days of departure, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months, before boarding a flight to the United States.

CGWG will continue to monitor news and events that impact employers and the workforce. If you have any questions, please contact an attorney at our Firm.

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