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What Do I need To Know About Immigration and Vaccination?

Updated April 19, 2023

Immigration and Vaccines

Q: I am immigrating to the United States. My children  and I have either already been vaccinated or the US is requiring vaccines that weren't previously required and I don't want the additional vaccines. What are my legal rights?

A: Immigration vaccine requirements are difficult to challenge and could pose risks to successful immigration. Many immigrants are required to get all Centers for Disease Control recommended and age-appropriate vaccines. However, there are vaccine waivers available, if the immigrant meets certain conditions.

In general, medical vaccine waivers are granted for immigration on the same basis as medical vaccine exemptions are granted at a state level – a doctor certifies that the vaccine is not medically appropriate.

Vaccine waivers for religious and personally held moral convictions are also possible to obtain, but are adjudicated according to a specific checklist by an immigration officer. Adjudication for these waivers should favor the individual requesting the waiver and avoid infringing upon First Amendment rights to free speech and religion. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website offers detailed information on what conditions must be met by immigrants in order to obtain religious and personal conviction vaccine waivers and it is important to thoroughly understand this checklist prior to requesting a waiver. In some instances, immigrants may have to provide documentation to support their waiver request.

To learn more about U.S. immigration vaccine waivers, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Those seeking to immigrate may also want to get legal advice from an attorney.

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