All foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the U.S. are required by law to receive vaccinations to prevent diseases like Mumps, Measles, Rubella, and Hepatitis B. The vaccinations are typically administered during a medical examination by a “civil surgeon,” which is a medical professional specially designated by the USCIS.
Occasionally, an applicant may disagree with the vaccination requirement or find that they are unable to receive one or more vaccinations. In response to this reality, USCIS allows applicants to seek waivers in very limited circumstances. Generally, there are two scenarios in which the government will issue a vaccination waiver: 1) an applicant opposes vaccinations on moral or religious grounds, or 2) it would not be medically appropriate to administer certain vaccinations to an applicant.
A person qualifies for a religious or moral objection waiver if he or she can show:
• He or she is opposed to vaccinations in any form;
• The objection is based on religious belief or moral conviction; and
• The belief or conviction is sincere.
A person qualifies for a waiver when a vaccine is not medically appropriate due to:
• Contraindication (the vaccine may be harmful to the patient);
• Insufficient time interval;
• Seasonality of vaccination (e.g. flu shot); or
If an applicant falls into the second category, he or she may receive a waiver from USCIS if the civil surgeon at the applicant’s medical examination certifies that it is not medically appropriate for the applicant to receive one or more of the required vaccines. In this case, no further forms or filings will be required.
When an applicant objects to receiving vaccinations on moral or religious grounds, they may only seek reprieve from this requirement after filing a waiver with USCIS and making a very strong case for waiver eligibility. There is a very high burden of proof for applicants in this category. The process can be quite costly and it is common for waiver applications to be denied.
Berardi Immigration Law has extensive experience preparing various types of waivers and is happy to help with your immigration needs. If you have a sincerely-held moral or religious belief which prevents you from complying with the vaccination requirement, our office can provide you with the tools you need to obtain this waiver. Please call or email us today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.