When Immigration Matters

Religious Exemptions For Vaccinations

Posted by Karen Pollak on May 2, 2022 3:15:26 PM


For non-citizens who wish to become legal permanent residents (green card holders), you will have to have an immigration medical exam. One of its intended purposes is to ensure you don’t have any communicable diseases that could be brought into the country. Examples of these are measles, mumps, and rubella. During your examination, doctors verify whether you have received the appropriate vaccinations. 

As of October 2021, COVID-19 was added to the list of infectious diseases that the doctors will evaluate you for. Upon learning this, you may be asking whether a vaccine will be a requirement for becoming a legal permanent resident. For some, receiving a vaccination goes against their religious beliefs. Will they be barred from entering? 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers waivers. They will also not force people to get them if they are not medically appropriate. For instance, it would not be medically appropriate for a child under 5 to receive one. Regarding a waiver, the USCIS has a policy that states that you may receive one if “...such a vaccine would be contrary to the applicant’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.” 

Religious Waivers

If you are applying for a vaccine waiver based on your religious belief or moral conviction, you must file an I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility). Do not seek out a blanket waiver for a religious exemption. There are three requirements you must meet before submitting the I-601:

  • You must be opposed to all vaccinations (not just the COVID-19 vaccination)
  • Your objection must be rooted in religious beliefs or moral convictions
  • These beliefs and convictions must be sincere

You will be asked to provide evidence for these claims. Furthermore, you must make a sworn statement about why your religious beliefs preclude you from receiving a vaccination. There is no requirement that states you must be an active member of an organized church. If you are not an active church member, you can still apply for a waiver. But statements from other congregation members could prove your convictions and beliefs. Another valuable form of evidence could be anything that your church published that speaks to their position on vaccinations. 

A USCIS officer has to weigh your claim against the evidence you provide to determine whether you receive a vaccination waiver. Meeting all the requirements listed above makes you a strong candidate for receiving a vaccination waiver based on your religious convictions. 

Pollak PLLC

Experience is paramount when it comes to immigration. At Pollak PLLC, we have experienced the immigration process both personally and professionally. If you have any further questions about becoming a legal permanent resident or vaccination waivers, please contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation

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