Applicants for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence will have more than 60 days after completing their medical examinations to file their Forms I-485 Adjustment of Status applications, USCIS has announced.
Due to COVID-19-related delays, USCIS has temporarily waived the requirement that a civil surgeon sign the Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, no more than 60 days before an applicant files a Form I-485. This temporary waiver will be in effect until September 30, 2022, and will help applicants whose I-485 applications were delayed due to the pandemic and who, without the waiver, would have had to schedule and pay for a second medical examination.
This waiver will particularly benefit Afghan nationals who were evacuated under Operation Allies Welcome, many of whom completed their medical examinations more than 60 days before they could submit I-485 applications.
To protect the U.S. public, applicants for Adjustment of Status have long been required to submit a medical examination signed by a Department of Homeland Security-designated civil surgeon proving admissibility on medical grounds. Current medical grounds for inadmissibility include:
- A communicable disease of public health significance;
- The failure to show proof of required vaccinations;
- A physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior; and
- Drug abuse or addiction.
COVID-19 led to this signature flexibility, but it also necessitated the addition of COVID-19 to the list of vaccines that applicants are required to take to avoid an inadmissibility determination. The vaccine record is a part of the standard medical examination and, with limited exceptions, a civil surgeon cannot sign the medical examination report unless the applicant is “fully vaccinated” with one of the acceptable COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite the 60-day waiver, USCIS advises that it is best to have the medical examination as close to the adjustment filing date as possible, because the medical examination will only remain valid for two years. Some applicants who expect that their cases will not be adjudicated within the two-year validity period may, with advice of counsel, choose to submit a Form I-693 medical exam later in the process – either at an interview or in response to a Request for Evidence from USCIS, rather than risk possible invalidation and the need to redo the medical examination.
The new waiver applies to all Forms I-693 that have not been adjudicated, regardless of when the application was submitted or when the Form I-693 was signed.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to advise on strategies about medical examinations and the filing of Forms I-485.