How to Prepare for the U.S. Immigration Medical Exam
When you immigrate to the United States, you’ll have to undergo a medical exam.
This exam, conducted by a government-authorized physician, includes several checks that tell U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that you don’t have a health condition that could make you inadmissible to the United States.
How to Prepare for a Medical Exam for Immigration Purposes
Though you can’t study for your medical exam the way you’d study for your citizenship test, there are some things you can do to prepare. You’ll need to:
- Collect your medical history, including copies of any previous chest X-rays
- Find your immunization records (and make sure they're up to date, including your COVID-19 vaccinations)
- Get a letter from your current doctor that outlines a treatment plan for any health conditions you have
- Bring your health insurance card, if you have one
- Bring your identification
- Bring a partially completed copy of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, if you’re applying from within the United States (fill out your portion before the appointment – but don’t sign it until the doctor tells you to)
Related: The US Government Requires COVID Vaccine For Permanent Residence
Why Do You Need a Medical Exam to Immigrate to the United States?
The U.S. government requires you to participate in a medical exam before you can immigrate to the United States. That’s because the agency wants to ensure that you don’t have a physical condition that would make you inadmissible to the United States. All family members who are seeking a family-based green card, as well as some other immigrants, must submit to a physical exam.
What Conditions Make You Inadmissible to the U.S.?
Often, communicable diseases of public health significance are inadmissible to the United States. In plain English, that means that a disease that someone can catch from you – if that disease is not present in the U.S. or poses a great risk to people in the U.S. – makes you ineligible to immigrate to the country.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, maintains a list of communicable diseases of public health significance that includes:
- Hansen’s disease (leprosy) that’s infectious
- Syphilis that’s infectious
- Active Class A tuberculosis
- Other diseases that may make you subject to quarantine
Note: Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) used to be considered a communicable disease of public health significance, it’s no longer on the list. HIV does not make you inadmissible to the U.S., and immigration officers are required to disregard diagnosis of HIV infection when determining whether someone is inadmissible on health-related grounds.
What About Intellectual or Learning Disabilities?
You must present a report of your condition (or your family member’s condition) if an intellectual or learning disability is present. An intellectual or learning disability does not automatically make you (or your family member) inadmissible to the United States.
What Happens During the Medical Exam for Immigration?
There are four parts to the U.S. immigration medical exam:
- A complete review of your medical history and your immunization records, conducted by the physician performing the exam
- A physical and mental evaluation
- Drug and alcohol screening
- Tests for diseases and illnesses
You can expect a chest X-ray to take place during your exam (to check for signs of tuberculosis), as well as a cursory examination of your:
- Nose and throat
- Lymph nodes
How long your exam takes depends on your doctor and any conditions you have or would like to discuss with the physician. For many people, lab testing is necessary; that can take a little extra time.
This isn’t a comprehensive medical exam. Its only purpose is to screen you and your family members for some medical conditions that are tied into U.S. immigration law.
What Doctors Can Perform U.S. Immigration Medical Exams?
Only government-authorized physician can perform U.S. immigration medical exams. Unless your current doctor is authorized to perform these exams, you cannot use results from an exam with that doctor.
If you’re applying from in the United States, you’ll see a civil surgeon that USCIS has approved. If you’re applying from outside the United States, you’ll see a panel physician that the U.S. Department of State has approved.
When and How Should You Schedule Your U.S. Immigration Medical Exam?
You can schedule your U.S. immigration medical exam before you begin the green card application process. If you do that, you must have your Form I-693 signed no more than 60 days before you submit your green card application. However, if it’s more convenient, you can schedule it after you file your green card application. If that’s what you choose to do, you must send your results to USCIS as soon as possible, or bring your results with you to your green card interview. (You should bring a copy of your results to your green card interview anyway, just to make sure you have a backup if you need it.)
You can schedule your exam by visiting USCIS’s Find a Doctor locator or by calling 800-375-5283 (TTY: 800-767-1833).
What Happens to Your Results of the Immigration Medical Exam?
In some countries, the physician sends results directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate. However, in other countries, the physician gives the applicant their own exam results in a sealed envelope. If your physician gives you your exam results, you’re required to bring them to your immigration interview with you.
Note: If you have an additional copy of your medical exam results, you should bring it with you to your interview.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Your U.S. Immigration Medical Exam?
If you need help with the immigration process, or if you’re not sure what to do next, we may be able to help you. Call our office today or get in touch with us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and give you the guidance you need to move forward with your immigration petition.