As the vaccine for Covid19 becomes available in more countries and for teens and children, more countries are instituting requirements related to adoption, but it can be difficult to follow all of the changes. If you are an adoptive parent in process, or considering starting the adoption process, here’s what you need to know about the regulations at this time:
For Prospective Adoptive Parents:
As vaccinations for Covid19 become more widely available, more countries are requiring travelers entering the country to be vaccinated. Some countries allow a negative Covid19 test within a certain time frame (sometimes 72 hours, sometimes 48 or 24) to substitute for proof of vaccination. Others require a family to quarantine for a period of 7, 10 or 14 days upon arrival and be tested before being able to move freely about the country, which would extend the required length of travel to complete the adoption. However, there may be countries that require vaccination and do not offer alternatives for adoptive parents.
At this time, the US requires all travelers over the age of two, including US citizens, to provide proof of a negative Covid19 test within 72 hours before departing for the US, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Currently, this requirement is regardless of vaccination status.
For Children Being Adopted:
Effective October 1, 2021, the US CDC began requiring all immigrant visa applicants, including adoptees, to be fully vaccinated for Covid19 before receiving their entry visa. For children under 18, whether this requirement applies to them at the time of applying for their visa depends on the situation in their individual country. Adoptees are required to be vaccinated if a vaccine is both 1. Recommended for their age range by either the FDA or WHO, and 2. Available for their age group in their country. At the time of this post, this only includes the Pfizer vaccine for children age five years and up, as all other vaccines are not yet recommended by the FDA or WHO for children under age 18. However, this is expected to change in the coming months, and as a vaccine is recommended for a younger age group, if it is available to that age group in a child’s country, the child will be required to complete the entire vaccine series before the US embassy or consulate will issue an entry visa.
Children are exempted from this requirement under blanket waivers for the following reasons:
- A vaccine approved by the FDA or WHO for their age group is not available in their country or area
- Their country has not yet begun providing covid vaccination to their age group
- Vaccination is contraindicated due to a medical condition
While visa applicants can apply for an individual waiver from Covid19 vaccination for a child under religious or moral convictions using form I-601, it can only be filed after a visa denial, and processing of this this form can take up to one year. It is therefore not an appropriate option for adoption. This is different than the standard vaccination exemption form for adoptees, which exempts children age 10 and under from other vaccinations typically required for immigration, but does not apply to Covid19 vaccination.
The information in this post is current at the time of posting, but the requirements around vaccination for Covid19 are entirely fluid, and can change every day with no notice. All parents in the process of adoption need to be prepared for the possibility of vaccination requirements for themselves and their adopted children as a part of the adoption process. For the most up-to-date information, contact your case worker or the agency you plan to use to learn how regulations apply to your situation at this time.