CDC Requires COVID-19 Vaccination For Immigrant Visa Applicants Effective 10/1/21

 

Via CDC: CDC Requirements for Immigrant Medical Examinations: COVID-19 Technical Instructions for Panel Physicians:

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 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.
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Other reasons why an applicant might not complete a COVID-19 vaccine series:

  • Applicant may request a waiver based on religious or moral convictions
    If an applicant objects to vaccination based on religious or moral convictions, it must be documented that the applicant is requesting an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions. This is not a blanket waiver. The applicant will have to submit a waiver request to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will determine if this type of waiver is granted, not the panel physician or CDC.
  • Applicant refuses a COVID-19 vaccine series in part or entirety
    If an applicant refuses one or more doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine series that is medically appropriate for and available to the applicant, it should be documented that the vaccine requirements are not complete and that the applicant refuses vaccination. This applicant is Class A and is inadmissible to the United States.

Read the entire guidance here.

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@StateDept Announces Tiered Approach in Immigrant Visa Prioritization

 

Via travel.state.gov:
As noted in our recent visa services operating status update, the Department of State is committed to sharing the current status of our worldwide visa operations.  As part of that effort, we would like to clarify how our embassies and consulates are prioritizing immigrant visa applications, as the Department works to reduce the backlog of such applications resulting from travel restrictions and operational constraints caused by the global COVID pandemic.
The health and safety of our personnel, U.S. citizens seeking assistance abroad, individuals seeking immigration benefits, and local populations is paramount.  Posts that process both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are prioritizing immigrant visa applications while still providing some nonimmigrant visa services.  However, the volume and type of visa cases each post will process continues to depend on local conditions, including restrictions on movement and gathering imposed by host country governments.  In addition, consistent with U.S. government guidance on safety in the federal workplace, U.S. embassies and consulates have implemented social distancing and other safety measures, which have reduced the number of applicants consular sections are able to process in a single day.  Consular sections will resume providing all routine visa services as it is safe to do so in that particular location.
[…]
Consistent with those objectives, U.S. embassies and consulates are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing.  While our consular sections, where possible, are scheduling some appointments within all four priority tiers every month, the following lists the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:
      • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government), and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
      • Tier Two:  Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
      • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
      • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas
Many embassies and consulates continue to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas.  This prioritization plan instructs posts to maximize their limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relative and fiancé(e) cases as possible with a goal of, at a minimum, preventing the backlog from growing in these categories and hopefully reducing it.
Read the full announcement here.
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Biden to Nominate @ColumbiaLaw’s Sarah H. Cleveland to be @StateDept Legal Adviser

 

President Biden recently announced his intent to nominate Sarah H. Cleveland to be the next Legal Adviser of the State Department. The WH released the following brief bio:

Sarah H. Cleveland, Nominee for Legal Adviser of the Department of State

Sarah H. Cleveland is an American law professor and expert in international law and the constitutional law of U.S. foreign relations.  A native of Alabama, she holds the Louis Henkin Chair in Human and Constitutional Rights and is Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School. She previously served as the Co-Coordinating Reporter of the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (2018), and as Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State.  She was nominated by the U.S. government and served as an independent expert on the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2015-18) and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (2013-19). Cleveland began her career as a Skadden Fellow representing migrant farmworkers with Florida Legal Services, and then joined the faculty at the University of Texas School of Law. The author of numerous publications, she also has taught at Oxford, Harvard, Michigan, Sciences Po Paris, Paris II Panthéon-Assas, and the European University Institute, Florence.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree with honors at Brown University (Junior Phi Beta Kappa); a Master’s Degree at Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. at Yale University Law School.  She clerked for Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and then for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.

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Nomination: Amb David R. Gilmour to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

President Biden recently announced his intent to nominate David R. Gilmour to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea. The WH released the following brief bio:

David R. Gilmour, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

David R. Gilmour, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena, Chad.  He is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Togolese Republic.  He has served in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Africa, Director of East African Affairs, and Director of Public Diplomacy for Africa.  He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama and Malawi, and Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Mission in Geneva.  Other overseas assignments include Australia, Costa Rica, South Africa and Cameroon.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Partnership Excellence Award from the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships.  Gilmour received a B.A. from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.  He speaks French and Spanish.

If confirmed, Ambassador Gilmour would succeed career diplomat Susan Stevenson who was appointed to the US Embassy in Malabo in 2019.