Immigration Medical Examination: What Happens There?


Many countries, most notably the United States, require a medical test for the visa as a necessity before immigrating to the state or getting a green card (becoming a citizen). This screening is sometimes called the green card medical exam. The appointment is part of the process to help an immigrant to be admissible.

An individual can be inadmissible to the United States if he has some diseases that are significant to the public. This visa medical helps immigrants detect the presence of any condition that can cause this inadmissibility.

The significance of an immigration medical exam

The United States citizenship immigration service (USCIS) uses information obtained from the immigration medical examination and its result. The record of vaccination to determine if the Heath related standards of admissibility is met by an applicant. The U.S carefully scrutinise people coming into the country with the medical ground of eligibility to be sure they will not pose any health threat to their citizens. They also care for their population by performing medical examination for each foreign national and giving them vaccines.

An applicant may be inadmissible if he or she has any of the following primary medical conditions:

  • A mental or physical disorder which may lead to dangerous behaviours
  • An infectious disease that is significant to public health
  • An addiction or drug abuse
  • The failure of an immigrant to present the proof of receiving the required vaccination.

Choosing a doctor for your exam

Every doctor cannot do immigration exam. The only doctors approved to do immigration exams for the United States are those approved by the government of the United States. If you have consular processing your visa or applying for it through the United States embassy, they will give you a list of panel physicians that are recognised by the Department of States. You will be given the privilege to choose a physician from the list.

However, if you feel nervous and want to get yourself prepared before meeting the panel physician, you can get the procedure from your local consulate and go through it. You can also want to be notified of your appointment before you go in to see the panel physician.

In case you want an adjustment of status, you can also visit the civil surgeon of the United States for an examination. You will be given a directory of civil surgeons from which you can choose.

What should you carry for the exam?

While packing your bag for the exam, do not forget to carry:

  • Your valid passport or a means of identification as recognised by the government
  • The required number of passport size photographs (you can check the consular office if you are applying abroad.
  • A record of your vaccination
  • If adjusting status, carry your form of medical and immunisation history (Form I-693).
  • The fee as required by the doctor
  • The list of medications you take (if you take them regularly or you are receiving treatment for a severe medical condition)
  • The condition report and need for special education and supervision requirement (in case you will be travelling with a family member with learning disabilities)
  • The tuberculosis certificate is given to you by your doctor (if you had a positive test result for a skin test for tuberculosis). The document is proof that the condition was treated.
  • If you once had syphilis, carry a clearance certificate which is signed by a doctor or public health official (it is proof that you were entirely treated for the disease).
  • If you have once had a harmful behaviour to people or pets, carry a piece of information that will help the doctor determine if the issue was due to a medical or psychiatric problem, or caused by the use of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • If you have ever been admitted into a hospital to be treated of any psychiatric or mental disorder, use of alcohol or abuse of drugs, carry a written certification that shows the diagnosis, duration of treatment and prognosis.


Your doctor will ensure you have received all the required vaccinations. You will be expected to have a full dose of some vaccines as demanded by the Immigration and Nationality Act since the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated their interest in public health. Despite the required vaccines, you must have the following immunisations before you can be admitted as a permanent resident:

  • Haemophilus influenza type B
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps, measles, rubella
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
  • Varicella

As time goes on, this list of vaccinations may be improved upon, and other vaccines may be added. All the immunisations are not compulsory for everyone. Some will be determined by age, and the USCIS has a chart of vaccinations that considers the age of the immigrants.

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If you have been vaccinated, present your doctor with a report which proves it and if you have not, get ready to be vaccinated. Also, if your statement was not written in English, you will need a certified translation. This should be done in one visit, but if you have not been vaccinated, you may need an additional appointment for the vaccination depending on the type.

Medical history

Your doctor and medical team will want to know about your medical history and will specifically want to know if:

  • You have ever been admitted at a hospital or had a significant occurrence in your medical history
  • You have been admitted into an institution because of any chronic mental or physical condition
  • You have ever been so sick or disabled that is interrupted with the average level of functioning or state of well being

The doctor will also ask you some specific questions about your habit with the use of drugs. If you are a drug abuser or an addict, you will be inadmissible. However, if you are a recovering drug addict, you can be admissible. This means that your only hope of being eligible as a drug abuser or addict is if your condition is in remission. To be on a safe side, consult an immigration attorney if you have a history of drug abuse (whether or not it is in your medical record) before going to the immigration medical exam.

Physical examination

After knowing your medical history, the doctor will then proceed to examine you physically. He or she will examine your eyes, ears, nose and throat, your extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, skin, lymph nodes and external genitalia. Your doctor may also send you for blood tests and a chest x-ray. The chest x-ray and blood test will not be required for children, but if you are pregnant, you may want to consider a postponement. You will have to contact the embassy to know how to go about this.

Mental exam

The doctor will examine your mental status, which will determine your intelligence, judgement, thought, mood, comprehension and behaviour. Harmful behaviour and physical or psychological disorder will make an applicant inadmissible.

The ground for admissibility is divided into two. They are:

  • A current mental and physical disorder which may be linked to harmful behaviour
  • A history of psychological or physical disorder that was linked to dangerous behaviour with a tendency to reoccur or lead to dangerous behaviour again

The cost of Immigration medical exam

The price of the immigration medical exam is dependent on the country where it is done and the doctor. If done in the United States, the cost can be between 100 to 400 dollars; however, the U.S, the government has not set a standard amount. So, before going to a doctor, check-in with two or more doctors and compare their prices.

If you think travelling to another country for the exam will make it cheaper, you can try. However, you need to count the indirect cost for the exam.

After the medical exam

When you have completed the medical exam, the doctor will give you a form from the USCIS, which shows the results and findings. In some cases, your doctor may send the result to the consulate you are applying for the visa (if you are overseas). If you are applying in the United States, the civil surgeon will give you a sealed envelope which carries your Form I-693, the report of medical examination, and vaccination record. You will be expected to submit the envelope without opening it. You will also be required to attach your Form I-485 and application status when submitting the envelope.

If you have submitted your application for adjustment of status, then you will submit the envelope during the USCIS green card interview. Your immigration medical exam results are valid for two years. Still, the Form I-693 is only valid after the civil surgeon signs on it (and this should not be more than 60 days before the date when an applicant files the application for immigration benefits. Also, the USCIS will arbitrate the request in not more than two years after the date the civil surgeon signed.

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