Beginning October 1, 2021, all individuals applying for a U.S. green card must submit evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this policy on August 24, 2021, and said that individuals who refuse the vaccine and don’t quality for any of the limited exceptions will be inadmissible to the U.S.
At this time, applicants must have received all prescribed doses of a vaccine that has been recommended by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Presently, the three vaccines approved by the FDA for full use or emergency use are recommended by ACIP. The CDC will accept additional vaccines once those vaccines receive recommendation from ACIP. Vaccines are currently available for individuals older than age 12.
The CDC is waiving the new COVID-19 vaccine requirement for individuals who are too young to receive a vaccine and people with health conditions that would indicate a potential sever reaction. Individuals applying from countries where vaccines are not routinely available are also exempt. Those who refuse the vaccine on religious or moral grounds may request an exemption from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but such exemptions are rarely given. Individuals who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19 are still required to be fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory syndrome classified as a “Class A inadmissible condition.” This means that individuals with the virus are inadmissible to the U.S. and ineligible to adjust their status to Legal Permanent Resident. The CDC believes that a combination of vaccination and testing is the best protection for applicants and U.S. communities.
The COVID-19 vaccines are currently available free of charge to all people in the U.S., regardless of immigration status.