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 for refugee or lawful permanent residence, 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.2 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 valid3, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required.
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.4 Self-reported vaccine doses without written documentation will not be accepted.5 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. In addition, individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with USCIS.