USCIS Updates Vaccination Requirements for Immigrants

Earlier this month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the vaccination requirements for immigrants, including those seeking adjustment of status. (See USCIS WebSite, Vaccination Requirements, posted January 5, 2010.) Under U.S. law, overseas applicants for immigrant visas, as well as foreign nationals who apply for lawful permanent residency (i.e., the “green card”) while living in the United States, must be vaccinated against the following diseases:

  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Influenza Type B
  • Hepatitis B
  • any other diseases, preventable by vaccine, that are recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP)

According to USCIS, the ACIP advises U.S. health authorities – including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – on the need for immunizations for the general population. As of December 14, 2009, whenever the ACIP recommends new vaccines for the general U.S. population, CDC determines whether these vaccines should be required for immigration purposes.

Each applicant is required to undergo a medical examination by an approved physician.  Those applying from overseas will receive their physical exams from panel physicians designated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), while applicants within the United States are screened by civil surgeons, physicians working under the direction of the CDC. Further information on panel physicians is available on the DOS WebSite (

The question-and-answer section of the announcement makes clear that applicants will need to prove that they have had all immunizations that are age-appropriate, except where a civil surgeon determines that an applicant’s medical condition makes the vaccine medically inadvisable (“contraindicated”). Waivers also may be available if the applicant refuses to receive any vaccines, based on sincere religious or moral objections. Absent a waiver, refusing the required vaccinations may result in denial of an application for permanent resident status. Applicants are required to pay for the vaccinations at the time they are given.

Further information on this process is available on the USCIS and DOS websites, as noted above. If you have specific questions about your case, you may wish to consult an immigration lawyer to ensure that the immunization requirement will not stand between you and the immigration status you desire.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.