CDC to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for all Applicants for Refugee or Immigrant Status

In a memo on August 19, the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that from October 1, Panel Physicians must incorporate the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible applicants for refugee or immigrant status. 

What to Expect
  • The applicant must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide vaccination documentation to the civil surgeon in person before completing the medical examination.
  • The CDC will only require the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are eligible, currently individuals 12 years old and older, and those who don’t have health conditions that would cause an adverse reaction to the vaccine. The requirement will also be waived for individuals from countries with no or limited vaccine inventory.
    • Civil surgeons are expected to remain informed about changing recommendations, such as expanded recommendations to include younger children and any new contraindications.
  • Individuals who refuse the vaccine based on their religion would have to request an exemption from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Individuals who can prove past infection and antibodies are still required to be vaccinated.
  • Immigrant applicants are currently required to show proof of vaccination for several diseases, including Hepatitis A and B, influenza, Measles, Polio, and Varicella.
  • All air passengers to the United States, including applicants for refugee or immigrant status, must show a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 3 days of departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the past 3 months.


Erickson Insights

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, and guidance from government agencies and health advisories change often. The United States continues to encourage all those who are eligible to complete their vaccination to prevent the spread of infection and serious illness.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.