Guide to Immigration Medical Exams in the U.S.

Posted by Frank Gogol

As a person from abroad looking to settle in the United States, you might come across a variety of steps necessary for you to become the holder of a green card. You might have to file for adjustment of status, you might have to bring in your criminal record – or you might have to put on your immigration medical exam.

While these might seem trivial, they are actually quite important in determining your status in the United States. They will determine whether your stay will become a problem or not, based on your overall health.

What Is the Immigration Medical Exam?

For an immigrant to gain their status as a lawful permanent resident in the United States, they may do so through a variety of reasons – such as family relations, employment sponsorship, and so on. That being said, regardless of the aspect that gives you your green card, you will also need to go through a medical examination which includes:

  • Mental and physical examination
  • Medical history review, along with your immunization record (vaccines)
  • Alcohol and drug screening
  • Tests for various illnesses and diseases

Certain diseases or conditions might make you inadmissible in the United States, which is why these medical examinations are a necessity.

What Is the Purpose of an Immigration Medical Exam?

As mentioned, certain conditions might make a green card seeker inadmissible on the grounds of the United States. Why, you may ask? While certain conditions might only affect the carrier, others can be transmitted to those around as well. As a result, the medical exam is necessary to protect the overall health of the United States.

Any of the following aspects might make a visa seeker inadmissible in the United States of America on medical grounds:

  • Failure to show proof that you have previously had your required vaccines
  • Existence of a communicable disease that can affect the population around as well
  • Drug addiction or abuse
  • Mental or physical disorders that are also associated with harmful behavior

In the event that this applies to anyone seeking a green card, there is a high chance that their application will get rejected.

Who Needs the Immigration Medical Exam?

To put it as simply as possible, anyone that is applying for a green card will require an immigration medical exam. Without it, you can’t be properly screened – and the immigration officers will not be able to give you a pass into the United States.

As a general rule, every foreign national can be considered “admissible” in the United States. They just have to bring the medical proof that deems them fit for admission.

What Happens at an Immigration Medical Exam?

Several things happen during an immigration medical exam – all of which will determine whether you are admissible in the United States or not. Here are the steps that you will have to go through.

Finding a Doctor for Your Immigration Medical Exam

Not any doctor will be able to provide you with your immigrant medical exam. The exam itself has to be performed by someone with a medical degree that has been approved by the United States government.

In most cases, if you apply for a visa through the United States consulate or embassy, you will also be given a list of doctors that have been certified by the State Department. In most cases, you will have a variety of physicians to choose from – but that being said, it will never hurt to see your local consulate as well. You may be required to show your appointment notification before the appointed doctor may see you.

What to Bring to Your Immigration Medical Exam

When it comes to preparing for a medical exam, you might want to bring the following items:

  • A valid passport, or at least any kind of photo identification that was issued by the government
  • Your vaccination record, along with a completed version of Form I-693, “Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record” (provided you are applying for an adjustment of status).
  • The fee associated with the examination (it depends on the doctor that you are going to).
  • If you are applying from abroad, you will need to bring the necessary number of US passport pictures.
  • Report on your condition or special supervision requirements
  • List of medication for any chronic illness that you may have.
  • Tuberculosis certificate given by your doctor in the event that you previously tested positive for the disease.
  • Clearance certificate to prove that you were treated for any type of contagious disease
  • If you had any history with violent behavior, you need to bring a report that will determine whether it was caused by a medical problem or substance abuse
  • If you were previously treated with a mental illness or went through rehab, you need to bring a certificate showing your diagnosis, the length of your treatment, as well as your prognosis.

Provided you bring the mentioned documents in front of your immigration doctor (and the paperwork seems fine), there should be no reason why you should not get admittance.

Vaccination Screening

To become admissible in the United States, you will also need to prove that you had all the necessary immunization shots. Before you are admitted as a permanent resident, you will need to prove that you’ve had the following shots for:

  • Mumps, measles, and rubella
  • Diphtheria toxoids and tetanus
  • Polio
  • Pertussis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilius Influenza Type B
  • Influenza
  • Varicella
  • Pneumococcal Pneumonia
  • Meningococcal
  • Rotavirus

The list of vaccines is variable. At the time of writing this article, you may say that the list is complete – but later on, other vaccines may be added. This is why you will have to continuously check whether any updates were added or not.

At the same time, not every area of application will require that you have all of these vaccines. In most cases, the doctors will tell you precisely what vaccines you need to have – and what vaccines you don’t necessarily need.

Review of Medical History

The doctor that is giving you your immigrant medical examination will also look into your medical history. They will be interested in:

  • Whether or not you stayed in a hospital or had quite a few significant circumstances in your health history.
  • Whether or not you were disabled or sick so significantly that it prevented you from functioning properly as a normal member of society.
  • Whether or not you were institutionalized for a chronic mental or physical condition.

Here, the doctor will also inquire whether you had a history of substance abuse or not. If it is discovered that a potential applicant is a substance abuser, then they will be deemed inadmissible. On the other hand, if the applicant can prove that they have recovered from their condition, they may become admissible once more.

Physical Examination

Upon receiving your green card, you will also be subjected to a physical examination. In most cases, the physical exam will include looking at the following:

  • Ears
  • Eyes
  • Throat
  • Nose
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Extremities
  • Abdomen
  • Skin
  • Lymph nodes
  • External genitalia

The doctor will also make an order for a chest x-ray along with a blood test. Children will also generally be excused from having to take the x-ray and blood tests. Moreover, if you are pregnant, you might want to check with the consular office or embassy to apply for a postponement – since in most cases, an x-ray might be harmful to the baby.

Mental Examination

Just like you will need to be physically healthy upon entering the United States, your mental health will also have to be the same. For this reason, the doctor will conduct an exam on your mental status, looking for the following aspects in particular:

  • Current mental or physical disorders that have also been associated with harmful or violent behavior.
  • Past mental or physical disorders that are associated with violent behavior and that are likely to relapse.

Generally speaking, these exams are there to determine whether you are harmful to yourself or to anyone around you.

Immigration Medical Exam Cost

The cost for the immigration medical exam may depend on a variety of things, such as the country where you are taking the exam or the doctor that is conducting it. Prices can be anything from $100 to $400, depending on who you decide to work with.

Next Steps

Upon the completion of your medical examination, your doctor will give you an USCIS-approved form where they will state their findings. Sometimes, the results will be sent directly to the consulate – but you may also be the one to take them. This report will need to be submitted along with Form I-693 and Form I-485. The results of this examination are valid for two years, under most circumstances.

Wrap Up

Your immigration medical exam is something that you might not be able to get away from when you are applying for a visa. However, as long as the paperwork is in order and can prove that you are not a health hazard, then it should not be difficult for you to be accepted as a permanent resident.

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