Add green card applicants to the growing list of groups that are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new policy commencing on October 1, 2021, requiring green card applicants to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Applicants that do not qualify for an exemption or waiver to this policy and refuse one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series will be deemed inadmissible to the United States.
The CDC has announced this new policy as COVID-19 meets the definition of “severe acute respiratory syndromes” as specified by the Presidential Executive Order 13674, issued on July 31, 2014, and stating in part:
Severe acute respiratory syndromes, which are diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled.
Foreign nationals must submit an official vaccination record or a copy of a medical chart with written documentation by a physician, or another appropriate medical professional, indicating receipt of a vaccine series. Self-reported vaccines without written documentation will not be accepted. Applicants must be vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines, or a vaccine recognized and recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be required in addition to the existing 15 mandatory routine vaccines, such as Measles and Polio. It is not waived for foreign nationals who have previously contracted COVID-19.
The CDC will waive the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for applicants who are too young, less than 12 years old at the time of this writing, to safely receive a vaccine and for applicants with documented health conditions that could have a severe adverse reaction to the vaccine, including those who had a severe reaction to the first dose of a two-dose series. The CDC will also waive the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals in countries with no or limited COVID-19 vaccine supplies. Foreign nationals with religious or moral grounds for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine may request an exemption from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Applicants should contact a physician or medical professional for more information on the best COVID-19 vaccine series for their personal health circumstances and to receive official documentation of their receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine series.
Please contact your Klasko Law attorney with any questions on this new development.
The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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