US immigration applicants will need to show proof that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a mandatory medical exam, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced. The new policy will come into force on October 1, 2021. However, the new policy exempts children too young to receive the vaccine.
The new rules also exempt people with medical conditions that prevent them from receiving the jab. Meanwhile, there is a waiver process for people who refuse to be vaccinated on the grounds of their religious beliefs or other legitimate reasons.
The COVID vaccine has been added to a list of well-established vaccines required to enter the US, including hepatitis A, polio and varicella – used for chickenpox, according to a policy update issued by USCIS.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
USCIS said: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last month that because its advisory committee has recommended COVID-19 vaccination for all Americans eligible to receive it, the vaccine should be required for US immigration applicants as well. The new policy stems from that announcement.”
“If a US immigration applicant has not received any of the listed vaccinations and the vaccinations are age appropriate and medically appropriate, the applicant has a Class A condition and is inadmissible,” USCIS added.
It’s understood that the new rules will apply to those seeking permanent residency in the US and anyone else who must undergo a medical examination prior to US entry. Medical exams, performed by doctors whom USCIS designates as ‘civil surgeons’, can be carried out in the US or overseas.
However, a medical examination would not be deemed complete if a document proving vaccination against COVID, or an approved exemption or waiver, is not present.
Waivers can be requested
A statement published by USCIS said: “Anyone who objects to vaccines based on religious or moral convictions can request a waiver from the USCIS. However, there’s also a caveat: Prospective immigrants can’t pick and choose which vaccines they reject.”
“The applicant needs to demonstrate opposition to vaccinations in all forms, not just certain vaccinations,” USCIS added.
It’s understood that waivers will be evaluated by USCIS on an individual basis. However, it’s possible that the immigration agency could also issue blanket vaccine waivers for certain groups of people. For example, if a person is coming to the US from a country where the COVID vaccine is not widely available.
USCIS has stated that blanket waivers would be subject to a recommendation from the CDC.
COVID vaccination sites
The move to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for people coming to the US comes after Biden, earlier this year, announced that illegal immigrants would not face arrest at vaccination sites.
Under the new rules, illegal immigrants crossing the US southern border will not be required to prove that they have had the COVID vaccine, but can opt to have it voluntarily.
News that the policy would not apply to illegal immigrants crossing the US border from Mexico sparked outrage on Twitter.
Twitter user Andrew Hudson tweeted: “Migrants walking across the southern border aren’t required to get a vaccine, but everyone else in this country who goes to work is? Where does the hypocrisy stop.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are threatening to take legal action against the Biden administration, accusing the President of ‘favoring unlawful migrants’ by failing to demand that they have the vaccine.
Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas
Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details. You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.