Applying for a green card? Immigrants will need the COVID vaccine first, feds say

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Migrants applying for U.S. residency will soon be required to get the COVID vaccine first, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday.

The rule, which goes into effect Oct. 1, says that applicants who are subject to the immigration medical examination must be fully vaccinated before the exam. They must also provide proof of vaccination to the physician conducting the examination. Most green card applicants are required to undergo the physical examination, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said on its website.

The examination is intended to show that applicants are “free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds,” USCIS said in a news release.

The vaccine rule was created to align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements that were issued on Aug. 17 to civil surgeons, or doctors authorized by USCIS to conduct immigration medical examinations. Those requirements asked civil surgeons to consider the COVID-19 vaccination among the required vaccines for immigration applicants.

USCIS said that some individuals may be exempt from the vaccination requirements, including those ineligible for vaccination because of age or other medical conditions, as well as those who live in an area where vaccines aren’t readily available and where waiting for a vaccine “would cause a significant delay” in the application process.

USCIS and the CDC require immigration applicants to also receive several other vaccinations, including those for the flu, polio and hepatitis B.

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