Waiver of Vaccination Requirements for Noncitizens


Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Requirement

In the U.S. immigration process, noncitizens applying for an adjustment of status to permanent residency or an immigrant visa are required to meet certain health-related criteria, which include a vaccination requirement. This is documented through Form I-693, the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The form must be completed by a designated civil surgeon and includes proof of vaccinations against various diseases as mandated by public health authorities, specifically the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This step ensures that all immigrants meet health standards that prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases within the U.S.

Meeting these vaccination requirements is crucial for the approval of their applications, though waivers are available under specific conditions. The COVID-19 vaccination requirement appears to have led to a significant increase in the number of these types of waiver applications.


Waiver of the Vaccination Requirement

The law allows for a waiver of the vaccination requirements for noncitizens under specific circumstances:

  1. If the USCIS-approved medical professional (civil surgeon, medical officer, or panel physician) confirms that “such vaccination would not be medically appropriate” for the noncitizen
  2. If vaccination would be “contrary to the [noncitizen’s] religious belief or moral convictions”

For instances where vaccination is medically unsuitable, medical professionals can grant a “Blanket Waiver” without the need for the applicant to request one. This waiver is noted on specific medical forms related to the immigration process, indicating one or more of the following reasons:

  • The vaccine is inappropriate for the applicant’s age.
  • The vaccine could pose medical risks to the individual.
  • There isn’t enough time between vaccine doses.
  • The vaccine isn’t readily available.

Additionally, Blanket Waivers can also be issued if:

  • The influenza vaccine is unavailable locally.
  • The applicant has a chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Applicants may also seek a vaccination waiver based on their religious or moral convictions. They must demonstrate a comprehensive opposition to all forms of vaccinations, rooted in either religious beliefs or moral convictions that are sincere and not necessarily part of a recognized religion. For minors, their parents must also meet these criteria. Receipt of vaccinations in the past significantly weighs against these arguments, which would generally need to be overcome with evidence that the applicant had a change in religion or moral convictions since the last vaccination.


Vaccination Waiver Application Process

To apply for a waiver on these grounds, applicants must submit Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.  Granting a waiver is at the discretion of the immigration officer reviewing the case. For adjustment of status applicants applying within the United States, this application may be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in response to a request for additional evidence (RFE) with supporting evidence including an attorney legal brief arguing qualification. For consular processing, this application must be submitted and approved in advance of the consular visa appointments, which can significantly delay the process.

Refugees seeking to adjust their status can apply for a vaccination waiver using Form I-602. This waiver is typically granted for humanitarian reasons, to promote family unity, or if it serves the public interest.


The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.