The current pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations. COVID-19 meets the definition of a quarantinable communicable disease under 42 USC 264 and Executive Order 13295, as amended by Executive Order 13375 and 13674. Specifically, COVID-19 meets the definition of severe acute respiratory syndromes as specified by Presidential Executive Order 13674external icon (issued July 31, 2014), thus making it a Class A Inadmissible Condition.
Applicants*, defined in these Technical Instructions as people applying for immigrant or refugee status, as well as non-immigrants (NIVs) who are required to have an overseas medical examination, are medically screened days or weeks prior to travel to the United States (US). Thus, a negative screening for COVID-19 at the time of the medical evaluation does not guarantee the applicant will not have COVID-19 at the time of immigration to the United States.
A combination of vaccination, strategic testing, and routine infection control practices will provide the best protection from COVID-19 for applicants and US communities. These instructions provide requirements for COVID-19 vaccination and testing for applicants. The Instructions in this document are to be followed for COVID-19 when assessing applicants from all countries. These Technical Instructions are effective from October 1, 2021 until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determines these Technical Instructions are no longer needed to prevent the importation and spread of COVID-19.
Visit the Technical Instructions for Panel Physicians webpage for more information about the medical examination for applicants for US immigration.
*Refugees and NIVs, including K-visa applicants are not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the immigration medical examination; however, the other components of these Technical Instructions do apply to all applicants.
If a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) or licensed or authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is available to the applicant in the country where the medical examination is conducted, the eligible applicant must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series in addition to all other necessary vaccines (see Figure 1 for proposed timeline).
All applicants with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested for COVID-19 and must postpone the immigrant visa medical examination until they have met recovery criteria to end isolation.
Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 should also be tested and must postpone the medical examination until quarantine criteria have been met.
Screening testing of asymptomatic applicants for COVID-19 as part of the immigrant medical evaluation may be required at the discretion of the panel physician.
COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
The US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended COVID-19 vaccination for the age-appropriate, general US population. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination now meets the criteria for required vaccinations and is a requirement for applicants.
The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in these Technical Instructions, hereinafter referred to as “approved COVID-19 vaccines,” are those vaccines authorized for emergency use (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)external icon or listed for emergency use (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) (see “Status of COVID-19 Vaccines within WHO EUL/PQ evaluation process”).external icon If an FDA EUA vaccine becomes licensed for use in the United States, it will continue to be an approved COVID-19 vaccine. If an approved COVID-19 vaccine is available to the applicant in the country where the examination occurs, the applicant must complete the vaccine series and provide documentation to the panel physician in person before completion of the medical examination.