To obtain a green card, you must undergo a medical examination. An immigration Medical Exam is essential for the green card application process. It will be conducted by a doctor who the government has authorized.
- Physical and mental examination
- Review of immunization records
- Testing for drugs and alcohol
- Evaluation for illness and disease
What is the purpose of the Immigration Medical Exam?
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) requires the medical exam to protect public health. Immigration medical examinations are required for permanent residents. You may be ineligible to enter the United States because of certain medical conditions. If you have a health condition or a history of health problems, you may not qualify for a green card. Medical inadmissibility refers to this.
Reasons for Denial Related to Health of Immigration Medical Exam
You can be denied a green card application for five different health reasons by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The list includes infectious diseases which can impact public health, drug or alcohol abuse, mental or physical disorders caused by harmful behavior, inability to work, and a lack of immunization records.
Public Health Threats posed by Infectious Diseases:
If you suffer from certain infectious diseases (such as gonorrhea, syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis), you will likely need to receive immediate treatment. If you do not cure yourself and cannot enter the United States without infecting others, USCIS may deny you a green card.
Abuse of Alcohol or Drugs:
It may be impossible for you to get a green card if your medical exam reveals that you are abusing prescription medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol. You may be asked to take a drug test or provide documentation of your participation in a drug treatment program if you have a history of substance abuse.
Reactions to harmful behavior: Mental or physical disorders:
USCIS may deny you a green card if you have an illness that might make you violent. Drinking and driving are considered disorders by USCIS because they harm people other than the drunk driver.
Unable to work:
USCIS may consider you ineligible to get a green card if your health condition prevents you from working and supporting yourself financially. Eligibility will depend on the likelihood of becoming dependent on government assistance. This could include life-threatening diseases.
Fail to list the vaccinations you’ve since had:
You may also be considered inadmissible if you cannot show proof of vaccinations.
How to avoid “medical inadmissibility”:
It is not a requirement that USCIS deny you a green card if you have a cold, a well-managed chronic condition such as diabetes, or if you have previously been diagnosed with an infectious disease but no longer have it. Additionally, you can take measures to prevent receiving a denial of your application for health reasons. Consider the following:
- It is necessary to show proof of treatment to USCIS if you have ever suffered from a contagious disease (gonorrhea, syphilis, leprosy, or tuberculosis). Your regular doctor might also provide a statement saying that your disease is cured or under control. You may bring copies of your medical records showing your treatment and test results.
- You should bring proof of treatment if you have a history of drug abuse.
- You should bring proof that your mental health is well managed if you have a history of mental illness.
- Your regular doctor should provide a statement explaining how you manage any other serious conditions you have. Furthermore, your illness should be explained how much it affects your behavior, work, and family.
When USCIS denies your health-related application, you have the option of applying for a government waiver or a waiver of inadmissibility to enter the United States still. USCIS will contact you about a waiver from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
Your waiver may be approved subject to specific conditions. In the case of infectious disease, you may require immediate medical attention in the United States. A direct refusal to seek treatment could result in USCIS denying your waiver. Only an attorney can help you waive inadmissibility.
What preparation should I make for my immigration medical exam?
A government-approved doctor has to perform your immigration medical exam. Some doctors only perform these exams. Depending on your location, you may need to schedule an appointment beforehand, or you may not.
If you’re applying from inside the United State:
If you live in the United States, you can schedule your appointment using two different options.
Option 1: Before applying for a green card, schedule it:
Medical exam results can be submitted concurrently with the rest of your application, which is called “concurrent filing.”
If you obtain your exam before filing for a green card, you must have your medical results signed by a doctor within sixty days of filing. The form must have been signed over sixty days ago if you wish to file concurrently.
If you are applying for a green card, you should wait to submit your medical form until after sending it to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or you should bring it to your interview. It will be necessary to retake the exam if you do not. You can submit your medical records within two years after filing your green card application.
Option 2: Once you begin the green card application process, schedule it
Your medical exam results can either be mailed to USCIS or brought to your green card interview after you submit your application for a green card. Medical exam forms are good for two years from the date of the doctor’s signature.
The USCIS website has a list of doctors. Before scheduling an appointment, remind them that you need an immigration medical exam.
If you’re applying from outside the U.S.
Once you receive an appointment letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) for your green card interview, you can schedule your medical examination. Applicants outside of the United States can apply for green cards through NVC.
Please contact your local embassy or consulate before receiving your appointment letter. Their instructions for the examination will include a list of doctors within your country who are qualified. Choosing the doctor is up to you. To schedule an immigration medical exam, let the medical office know you need one as soon as you receive an interview date.
Depending on your medical condition, your exam results could expire in three months if they are not valid for six months. Your doctor should let you know when your results expire after your exam.
What to bring in Immigration Medical Exam?
So your medical exam goes smoothly, you should prepare your documents in advance. Make sure you have the following items:
- Records of your vaccinations
- A health history
- x-ray reports, if applicable
- If you have any health concerns, a letter from your doctor stating your treatment plan is required
- A government-issued photo identification
- Medical exam fees – Before your visit, ask the doctor’s office what your options are for paying the fee
- The doctor may accept your insurance before the appointment – check with the office before you arrive
Whether you apply for a green card within or outside of the United States depends on the final documents you need to submit.
If you’re applying from inside the United States:
The civil surgeon will record your exam results on Form I-693, officially called a “Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.” You are responsible for bringing this form with you when you go for your medical examination.
Form I-693 can be obtained from the USCIS website, but you are advised to bring a copy of the form from your doctor’s office. The form will be updated if you do this. USCIS can sometimes change the form version and doctors forget to update their forms.
USCIS will reject old forms, and you will be asked to submit the correct version. There would be a delay in your application since you need to go to the doctor’s office again.
The doctor must sign it. After the physician has completed their portion of the form, you will need to sign.
If you’re applying from outside the United States:
If you are applying abroad, you should bring your National Visa Center (NVC) interview appointment letter with you to the doctor’s office. The doctor will verify that your green card application is active with this letter. A medical examination related to immigration is not possible without this letter.
During the Immigration Medical Exam, what do they check for?
Several different tests will be conducted. If you are applying for adjustment of status at home or abroad, the screening process may be different. The general screening categories apply to all types of green cards, whether asylum green cards, child green cards, parent green cards, marriage green cards, or any other type.
As part of the screening, patients will have tuberculosis tests, vaccination screenings, medical history reviews, physical exams, mental exams, drug and alcohol screenings, and blood tests.
If you are inside or outside the United States, you need to follow different tuberculosis test guidelines.
If applying from the United State:
To receive a green card, all applicants aged two and older are required to undergo an “interferon-gamma release assay” (IGRA). Obtaining results probably won’t require a return visit to the doctor.
A chest X-ray and further testing will be required if the IGRA test indicates you may have tuberculosis.
Please note that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer accepts green card applicants’ tuberculin skin tests (TSTs). Verify that the test you receive is the correct one.
If applying from outside the United State:
As a fifteen-year-old and a resident of a country considered “heavily tuberculosis-burdened,” you must have a chest x-ray taken by the CDC. If you experience any signs of tuberculosis based on the x-rays or other medical examinations, you will have to return to the clinic for further testing.
Contact your U.S. embassy or consulate for further tuberculosis exam instructions.
Some vaccines are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act, and others by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are the vaccines you must have:
- measles, rubella, and mumps.
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumococcal Pneumonia
It is important to check the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) list.
Medical History Review of Immigration Medical Exam
This is also an important step. You should note:
- If you’ve ever been hospitalized or experienced any significant health events
- A disability or high health condition that rendered you unable to function as a normal member of society
- A chronic mental or physical condition that confined you to an institution
These are likely to be examined by your doctor during your physical exam:
- Throat, eyes, nose, heart, lungs, extremities, abdominal area, skin, lymph nodes, genitalia, and lymphatic system
You’ll also be tested for syphilis with chest x-rays and blood tests. USCIS will waive this requirement for children seeking green cards.
You may request a postponement during your medical examination if you are pregnant. X-rays are dangerous to an unborn child.
Mental Exam for Immigration Medical Exam
Your doctor also performs a mental examination. The assessors will likely evaluate your intelligence, judgment, mood, behavior, and comprehension.
Special attention will be paid to:
- Psychiatric disorders, psychological disorders, violent behavior, and other related disorders.
- Mental or physical illnesses that were associated with dangerous or violent behavior recently or that are likely to occur again.
Drug & Alcohol Screening:
During the appointment, the doctor will also ask you whether you take any prescription drugs, when you last took a drug or drank alcohol, and whether you have had a history of substance abuse.
A green card cannot be granted to someone currently abusing substances. You are still eligible if you have recovered from your addiction.
Blood & Urine Screening:
You will receive a syphilis blood test and a gonorrhea urine test if you are older than fifteen. These tests are given regardless of where you are in the country. You still need to undergo a medical exam if you have a menstrual period.
A chest x-ray must be consented to by the pregnant patient. The doctor will provide extra protection. Additionally, you can wait until after birth to get your chest x-ray.
If you are living abroad, you must complete it before arriving in the U.S. Alternatively; you must do so before completing your green card application or Form I-485 if you are submitting your application while in the U.S.