What are the vaccination requirements?
They are: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B, hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP). Current ACIP recommendations also include the varicella, haemophilus influenzae type B, and pneumococcal vaccines. The law requires all individuals applying for status as a lawful permanent resident (either by applying for an immigrant visa abroad or for adjustment of status in the United States ) to establish that they have been vaccinated. Nonimmigrant (temporary) visa applicants are not required to comply with the vaccination requirements as a condition of visa issuance, but must comply if they apply for adjustment of status at a later date.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Orphans age 10 and under who are applying for IR-3 and IR-4 visas at a U.S. consular post are exempt from complying with the vaccination requirements before the visa is issued (but not exempt from the vaccination requirements altogether.) To qualify for the exception, the adoptive parent must sign an affidavit that the child will be vaccinated within 30 days of arrival or at the earliest time that it is medically appropriate. Adoptive parents who are unable to sign the affidavit in good faith because compliance with the vaccination requirements would be against their religious beliefs or moral convictions, must apply for a waiver on behalf of the child.
Are there any waivers available?
Yes. There are three types of waivers available. (1) You didn’t have all the vaccinations (or all the vaccination certificates) at first, but then receive the missing vaccinations (or find the missing certificates); OR (2) The designated physician (known as civil surgeons for adjustment of status applicants in the United States and as panel physicians for immigrant visa applicants abroad) certifies that it would not be medically appropriate for you to have one or more of the required vaccinations. INS can grant these two waivers based on the civil surgeon’s or panel physician’s certification on the vaccination supplement. You do not need to file a separate waiver application or pay a fee. Take your vaccination records with you to your medical appointment. The civil surgeon or panel physician will review your vaccination history with you to determine whether you are in compliance. Do not try to comply with these requirements before you meet with the civil surgeon or panel physician, in case it is not medically appropriate for you to have one or more of the required vaccinations.
What if I object to the vaccination requirements because of religious or moral reasons?
The third waiver covers those applicants who believe that compliance with the vaccination requirements would be against their religious beliefs or moral convictions. Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability, with fee, is required. You must also meet the following three requirements: (1) You oppose vaccinations in any form; (2) The opposition is based on religious beliefs or moral convictions (whether or not as a member of a recognized religion); and (3) The religious belief or moral conviction is sincere. When the applicant is a child, the parent must meet all of these requirements.
Where can I get the vaccination supplement?
The civil surgeons and panel physicians have already received the vaccination supplement and instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your civil surgeon or panel physician should contact CDC directly if he or she did not receive this mailing from CDC or visit CDC’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/health.htm.
How do I obtain more information about designated civil surgeons and panel physicians?
If you are applying for adjustment of status, you may obtain the names and telephone numbers of civil surgeons in your area by calling the INS National Customer Service Center at: 1-800-375-5283. If you are applying for an immigrant visa abroad, the consular post that will be considering your application will provide you with the names and telephone numbers of the designated panel physicians.