Information Resources

What vaccine exemption laws apply to children adopted outside the U.S.?

Updated April 03, 2023

Adoption and Vaccines


There are legal considerations with regard to vaccination exemptions when adopting a child. Today in the U.S. many adopted children are adopted from foreign countries and brought back to the U.S. In those instances there may be vaccination requirements imposed by the country the child is adopted from and efforts to acquire reliable written records accepted by the U.S. could prevent over or revaccination.

Additionally, the U.S. imposes vaccination requirements on incoming adopted children. According to the U.S. State Department, Section 212(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that any person, who seeks admission as an immigrant, or who seeks adjustment of status to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, must present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices. This section of the Act also appears to temporarily exempt adopted children from vaccination, provided that the adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent of the child, prior to the admission of the child, executes an affidavit stating that the parent is aware of the provisions of subparagraph (A)(ii) and will ensure that, within 30 days of the child's admission, or at the earliest time that is medically appropriate, the child will receive the vaccinations identified in such subparagraph.

However, there are some instances where vaccine waivers are issued to immigrants. Medical vaccine waivers are given when vaccines are certified by a doctor as not medically appropriate. Vaccine waivers for religious and personally held moral convictions may also be possible to obtain, but are adjudicated according to a specific checklist by an immigration officer. To learn more about U.S. immigration vaccine waivers, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. NVIC recommends that U.S. citizens, who are considering adopting a child from a foriegn country, obtain legal counsel to determine if religious and personally held moral conviction vaccine waivers that are available to immigrants can also be used for children being adopted from outside the U.S.

For adoption of U.S. children by U.S. citizens, it is advisable to obtain legal counsel to determine how federal and state vaccine requirements and exemption provisions apply to adopted children and to determine the rights of the prospective adoptive parents.


Make a Difference Support NVIC

NVIC is 100% funded by donations.
Please give.


Connect with Us!

Ask 8 Kiosk & Educational Marketplace

Explore FREE downloadable educational materials

Protect Your Right to Make Vaccine Choices
Opens in new tab, window
Opens an external site
Opens an external site in new tab, window