IMMIGRATION SERVICE:

Vaccine Exemptions and Waivers

infographic showing 95% plus prior waivers approved and 300 plus exemptions obtained to date
infographic showing 95% plus prior waivers approved and 300 plus exemptions obtained to date

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Vaccines Are Required for the Immigration Process

Among the requirements to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or get your green card, are CDC mandated vaccines, now including the Covid-19 vaccine. Not having the vaccines required will result in an immigrant being deemed inadmissible to the United States and could cause you to be denied for your visa. Fortunately, certain rights of United States citizens extend to immigrants as well, including the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Amendment protects the right to free speech and religion and ensures protection for individuals who are opposed to any vaccinations. This protection covers immigrants as well as citizens, in the form of being able to obtain vaccine waivers, or exemptions, for immigration purposes.

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Different Types of Vaccine Waivers Available

Blanket Waiver

A Blanket Waiver is a medical waiver for vaccines required for immigration. When you are applying to become a permanent resident, a medical examination is required. In that case, a blanket waiver can be granted if the doctor decides that any of the vaccine requirements is:

  • Not age-appropriate for you or your child
  • Medically contraindicated
  • If there is not enough time to complete a series of vaccinations
  • It is not flu season, or a specific flu vaccine is not available in the location where you are receiving the medical exam
  • The Covid-19 vaccine(s) are not available in the location where you are receiving the medical exam

If you are granted a blanket waiver, you will not have to file the form or pay the fees.

Individual Waiver

Waivers based on moral convictions against vaccines or religious beliefs that prohibit receiving vaccines are available, but there are certain conditions for having them approved, including:

  • You must be opposed to any and all vaccinations in any and all forms. You cannot choose to take some vaccinations but not others and qualify for this waiver. Sometimes there are exceptions to this which your attorney can help you with.
  • Your objections must be religious or morally based.
  • The religious or moral objections you have to vaccines must be determined to be sincere.

You do not have to affiliate with a certain religious group or congregation to qualify for this waiver. Each request is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Criteria for Obtaining Immigration Vaccine Waivers Due to Religious Beliefs or Moral Convictions

If you meet the criteria above, then we can help you obtain an exemption for the required immigration vaccinations. Even if you feel you may not meet the criteria, but would like a vaccine waiver for immigration purposes, you should discuss it with an attorney. Each case is unique and should be evaluated individually.

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What is a Vaccine Exemption?

Sometimes you will hear the word exemption exchanged for waiver. A vaccine exemption is just another way to describe the special permission to not have to fulfill a vaccination obligation. You will often hear this word applied with regard to vaccine exemptions for school or work purposes. The immigration vaccine exemption is called a waiver, and it is granted when you have proven your sincere religious or moral objection to the requirements to the satisfaction of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) by meeting the above criteria.

Required Vaccines for Immigration

The vaccines currently required for immigration into the United States include*:

  • COVID-19
  • Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus (DTaP/Tdap)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella
  • Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP)

* A more age-specific chart can be found at USCIS Vaccination Requirements for Green Card (visaguide.world)

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Who Should Apply for A Vaccine Waiver for Immigration?

Anyone who is applying for their permanent residency in the United States and objects to vaccination based on their religious beliefs and/or moral convictions should apply for a waiver from USCIS. More information is available on the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services here.

What is the Process For Obtaining a Vaccine Waiver for Immigration?

The first step in this process is to file an I-601, which is an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Before filling out forms to apply for a vaccination waiver, you should speak to someone familiar with the process who knows what the requirements are and the procedural mechanisms and timelines for applying. A mistake in paperwork can set the process back and cause delays.

Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an attorney who has experience handling these waiver applications. We can evaluate your case and confirm your eligibility for the waiver. The attorney will ask specific questions in order to understand your beliefs and convictions. Then, if hired, the attorney works with you very closely to prepare your vaccine waiver application.

What is the time frame?

USCIS timing can be unpredictable. We have seen approvals take as little as two weeks and as long as two years. Generally, when the waiver is filed in conjunction with an adjustment of status application filed by an applicant who is within the United States, the waiver gets adjudicated around the same time as the I-485 application. Processing times for applicants abroad applying for a visa through the consulate are much less predictable as far as timing is concerned, but generally tend to take longer.

What is the approval rate?

While we cannot guarantee approval, if you retain an experienced attorney, you have a very high chance of approval. The immigration team at the law firm of Siri & Glimstad LLP has a 100% prior success rate in obtaining these immigration vaccine waivers for our clients.

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FAQ’s Related to Vaccine Waivers for Immigration

Can someone get a tourist visa and vaccine waiver?

No, only an applicant for lawful permanent residency can get a vaccine waiver. There are no vaccines required by USCIS in conjunction with a tourist visa application to the U.S.

I am abroad and have my consular interview coming up and don’t want the required vaccines. Can I get a waiver?

Yes. Please schedule a consultation with our attorneys to find out more about this.

I am adjusting status and need to do the medical examination, but I don’t want the required vaccines. Can I get a waiver?

Yes. Please schedule a consultation with our attorneys to find out more about this.

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The Importance of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer

Navigating the immigration process can be overwhelming and confusing. Mistakes can set your paperwork back for months, if not more. An experienced immigration lawyer can make all the difference. We know the paperwork required regardless of your particular circumstances and understand what the USCIS is looking for during interviews. In the event of any denials, your immigration attorney can step in as your advocate and dispute the denial as well as correct any issues and get you back on track to obtaining your green card or citizenship.

The experienced team of immigration law professionals at Siri & Glimstad LLP understands the importance of this process and has the tools and knowledge to guide you through it as efficiently as possible.

At Siri & Glimstad LLP, we have represented thousands of clients in immigration matters. Our motto is simple – Dedication, Efficiency, and Commitment to the end goal.

We also handle other types of immigration cases including:

If you or a loved one need help with any issues concerning immigration, please contact us. Hablamos español.

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Meet Christina Xenides,
Head of Immigration

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Your Immigration Team

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Christina Xenides
Attorney
Location: Texas
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Samantha DiBacco
Attorney
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Allison R. Lucas
Partner
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