People applying to immigrate to the U.S. will have to show they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of a required medical exam, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says. The new policy takes effect on Oct. 1.

The requirement includes an exception for children who are too young to receive the vaccine as well as for people with medical conditions that rule them out for the shot. It also outlines a waiver process for people who refuse to be vaccinated due to religious and other reasons.

The COVID-19 shot joins a list of well-established vaccines required by the U.S., from hepatitis A to polio and varicella (chickenpox), according to a policy update issued by USCIS.

“If the applicant has not received any of the listed vaccinations and the vaccinations are age appropriate and medically appropriate, the applicant has a Class A condition and is inadmissible,” the USCIS said. The agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that because its advisory committee has recommended COVID-19 vaccination for all Americans eligible to receive it, the vaccine should be required for immigration applicants as well. The new policy stems from that announcement, USCIS said.


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