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The Medical Exam for U.S. Green Cards

Male doctor ready to write patient informationAny applicant for U.S. permanent residency or fiancé visa will include a medical exam by a doctor approved by the U.S. consulate or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The doctor conducting the exam must be on the government’s list of approved doctors. Therefore, your personal doctor cannot do the exam for you unless he or she happens to be on the government’s approved list. You must also pay the fee for the exam, which is determined by the individual doctor, not by the government.

What is the doctor looking for?
The purpose of the medical exam is to make sure that you do not have any serious or communicable diseases, mental disorders or drug problems that would make you inadmissible to the U.S. (ineligible for a visa or green card).

The doctor will also make sure that you have had all the required vaccinations. The doctor is not there to tell you whether you have any other health conditions beyond the ones of interest to U.S. immigration authorities. This is a very specific exam for immigration purposes only.

What diseases can make an applicant inadmissible to the U.S.?
If you are applying to adjust status in the U.S., the diseases that can make you inadmissible are: chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, infectious leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, infectious stage syphilis and active tuberculosis.

If you are seeking an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate, diseases that make you subject to quarantine or any disease that may pose a public health emergency of international concern will make you inadmissible. If there is a threat that you will bring that disease to the U.S. and the disease could affect the health of the American public, you will not be allowed into the country.

If you have an illness that causes you trouble but will not infect or injure others, such as heart disease, cancer or certain mental illnesses, you will not be inadmissible on medical grounds. You may, however, be found inadmissible as a likely public charge — meaning you are likely to require government-based assistance (welfare) if your illness makes you unable to work or you if don’t have medical insurance.

What vaccinations are required to be admissible to the U.S.?
Below is the latest list of required vaccinations. Some of the following vaccinations are required only for people of a certain age group. Refugees and individuals granted asylum in the U.S. do not need the vaccinations until they apply for a green card.

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Rotavirus
  • Haemophilus influenza type b
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Varicella
  • Pneumococcal
  • Influenza

It’s best to bring a copy of any past vaccination reports with you to your medical exam. The doctor will only be able to confirm vaccinations that have been appropriately documented. If the vaccination reports are not in English, you will need to bring a written English translation.

What if I don’t have some of the required vaccinations?
If you haven’t had certain vaccines, the doctor will administer them (or at least the first dose) during this exam.

What will take place during the exam?
The doctor or a member of his or her staff will ask you for your medical history. The doctor will review all the times you have ever been in the hospital and all the times you’ve ever been sick or disabled seriously, where there was a “substantial departure from a normal state of well-being or level of functioning.”

The doctor will ask specific questions about psychoactive drug and alcohol use, any history of harmful behavior, and any history of psychiatric illness not documented in the medical records. The doctor will also review chest X-rays to see if you have or ever had tuberculosis.

The doctor will then give you a physical examination to look at your eyes, ears, nose, throat, extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, skin and external genitalia. The doctor will also perform a mental status examination assessing your intelligence, thought, comprehension, judgement, affect, mood and behavior.

The doctor will do any test necessary to diagnose any diseases that could make you inadmissible. A blood draw and chest X-rays are usually part of this testing. You do not need to fast (refrain from eating) in preparation for the blood draw.

When the examination is done, the doctor will prepare a form provided by USCIS with results and findings. The doctor will give you the form in a sealed envelope. Make sure you do NOT open the envelope! You will then submit the SEALED envelope to the consulate or USCIS.

If you are interested in applying for a Green Card, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!