People who want to apply for US citizenship should consider getting vaccinated first, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says.
“We are updating our policy guidance per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Aug. 17, 2021 update to the Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons,” the USCIS said in a statement.
According to the CDC’s update, citizenship applicants are “medically screened well in advance of adjustment of status,” so a negative COVID test at the time of medical evaluation would not guarantee that the applicant does not have COVID once their citizenship is granted.
“The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended COVID-19 vaccination for the age-appropriate, general U.S. population. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination now meets the criteria for required vaccinations and is a requirement for applicants eligible for the vaccine,” the CDC said.
On Sept. 14, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the DHS, announced that anyone applying for U.S. citizenship will soon need to be fully vaccinated against COVID.
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On Oct. 1, requiring that proof of vaccination must be presented before a civil surgeon can complete the required immigration medical examination for an individual’s application.
Applicants must complete the entire COVID-19 vaccination series, which is either one or two doses depending on which approved shot they get. In the U.S., that’s only Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson&Johnson.
However, the CDC says the USCIS should also accept vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), which also includes AstraZeneca-Oxford, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
The CDC says acceptable proof of vaccination documentation must come from an official vaccination record or a “copy of a medical chart with entries made by a physician or other appropriate medical personnel.”
According to the USCIS, applicants may be granted an exemption for some reasons, including not being eligible for the COVID vaccine due to age or medical contraindications or if there is a short supply.
The USCIS also states that despite this ban, individuals may also apply for individual waivers based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.