Immigrants seeking to live in the U.S. face many challenges on their quest to obtain visas as well as citizenship. Dealing with U.S. immigration officials often represents the largest hurdle, involving the completion of the required documents and then the often-long wait.
While the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges, it brings an additional challenge for immigrants. Beginning on Oct. 1, prospective immigrants to the U.S. must prove that they received a vaccination for COVID-19. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in mid-September that the new rule is a required part of a medical examination.
Added to the necessary vaccinations in place
Many vaccinations requirements already are in place for immigrants.
For example, the Immigration and Nationality Act declares necessary vaccinations for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, hepatitis B and other ailments. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires a number of vaccines, including those for influenza, chickenpox, hepatitis A and COVID-19.
Visa applicants who have not received any required vaccinations will not be admitted to the country. The USCIS’s new policy applies to prospective permanent residents and others required to take an immigration medical examination. The medical examinations may take place in the U.S. or overseas.
However, exceptions to the new rule exist. These exceptions include children too young to receive the vaccine along with people who have medical conditions that prevent them from getting a shot. Waivers also exist for people who decline the vaccination due to religious and moral reasons.
The COVID-19 vaccine is now one of many required vaccines for prospective immigrants. With the great amount of uncertainty that the global pandemic has brought in the past 18 months, U.S. immigration officials hope the new policy will safeguard the population and anyone who hopes to become a legal permanent resident or citizen.