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Proof of COVID-19 vaccine now required for US immigrant applicants

Vaccine requirements for those applying to become lawful permanent residents have been in place for years.

BOISE, Idaho — Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is now required for those applying to immigrate to the United States. 

This new rule went into effect on Oct.1, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccines required for anyone applying to become a lawful permanent resident or seeking refugee status. Applicants were already required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, polio, hepatitis A and B, and other illnesses.

Attorney Betsaida Chavez Garcia with Immigrant Justice Idaho says applicants must submit the report of medical examination and vaccination records, also known as the I-693 Form. The nonprofit provides free and low-cost immigration legal services and education and helps the community stay up to date about changes and updates to immigration policies.

"The immigration medical examination has been a requirement in the past," Chavez Garcia said. "They are just now updating the guidance so that a person has to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is just adding another vaccine to the list.”

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, some vaccines are expressly required by statute, while others - including the COVID-19 vaccine - were added to the list after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "determined they are in the interest of public health." 

"If you refuse to receive the vaccines required for immigration purposes, as mandated by the immigration laws of the United States, your application for legal permanent resident status may be denied," the site reads.

Immigrants under the age of 12 will not be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccine has not yet been approved for young children. Those who are pregnant or have some underlying medical conditions may also qualify for a waiver, although the CDC says the vaccine is safe and important for pregnant women, who are at risk of more serious complications if they are infected with COVID-19.

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