You must go through a medical examination if you’re applying for a U.S. green card or lawful permanent resident status. The primary goal of the test is to guarantee that you can be in the United States based on its public health rules and or standards.
However, you won’t be able to have the medical examination performed by your doctor. In his or her place, a civil surgeon, who has been specially selected by the United States government, will conduct the necessary medical examination. You don’t have to worry since these civil surgeons regularly perform medical examinations for green card holders and are trained in the practices and procedures to do so.
Finding the Right Civil Surgeon
As mentioned, you will need to get checked by a certified civil surgeon if you’re applying for a green card. If you are applying from overseas through an embassy or a U.S. consulate, then the consulate will give you a list of certified civil surgeons before your visa interview. The list is also accessible via this site. Select the country you’re in to get the list of doctors.
If you are in the United States and are applying for a green card (Adjustment of Status), then you can access the list of doctors here. Provide your zip code so that the website can generate the list for you.
Things to Bring
To make sure that you are well prepared for the medical examination, here is a checklist of things you should bring:
- Valid passport or any valid government issued photo identification
- Consultation fee (amount depends on the doctor)
- Your record of vaccinations
- If you are applying overseas, then you might need to bring a specific number of U.S. passport photos depending on the country
- If any of your relative immigrating has learning disabilities, then a record or report of their condition including individual supervision and education requirements
- If you are under maintenance medicine or are under treatment for a chronic medical condition, with a history of medications – you might need to explain your case to the doctor
- If you tested positive skin for tuberculosis (TB), you need to provide a doctor a certificate explaining the circumstances of the positive test result, including details of any prescribed treatment and its required duration
- If you had tuberculosis then you should provide a written certification with your doctor’s signature, explaining that you received adequate treatment – the certificate should contain information about the dates and types of drugs you took
- If you suffered from syphilis, then you should provide a document signed by a public health official or doctor, proving that you received adequate treatment
- If you have a history of violent or harmful behavior that hurt animals or people, then you must the allow the doctor to check whether your behavior is due to a medical problem, a psychiatric disorder, or alcohol or drug abuse
- If you have been hospitalized or received treatment for mental illness, psychiatric disorder, drug or alcohol abuse, then you must provide a written certification detailing your diagnosis, treatment duration, and prognosis
After getting a list of doctors and the documentation needed, many people facing the immigration medical exam wonder about what will be checked during the procedure.
Standard Physical Test
There is a standard physical test you will go through, like how your regular doctor usually examines you. The doctor will check your eyes, nose, ears, throat, skin, lymph nodes, abdomen, extremities, and external genitalia. They will also check your breathing and heart.
As mentioned, you must bring your vaccination records so they can see if you need any other vaccinations to help you complete the medical examination. Provided that you have all the necessary vaccinations with the corresponding records then you won’t require any more vaccines. If you don’t have all the required vaccinations, then you may get then on the day of your medical exam or on another date which must be soon.
If you have the required vaccinations but didn’t have the documents to prove it, then you can choose to have blood titers drawn to show the doctor your immunity. Blood titers are blood tests that check for specific antibodies for diseases. If you completed all the necessary vaccinations, then the blood titers should provide you with immunity to those diseases. You won’t have to receive any more vaccinations. However, if the test says otherwise, then you need to schedule to get the vaccines.
You need vaccinations for the following:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Influenza type b (Hib)
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
Syphilis Blood Test
The USCIS requires applicants who are 15 years old or older to be tested for syphilis. If the applicant is 14 years or younger but shows signs of syphilis or has a history of it, then they should be tested, too. The syphilis screening requires drawing blood from the applicant. The blood draw should be conducted on the day of the medical exam and in the laboratory of the designed civil surgeon. If the applicant has syphilis, then he or she will need to be treated first before they can complete the I-693 form.
Tuberculosis (TB) Screening
Applicants two years old and above must go through the tuberculin skin test (TST). Younger children must also undergo the test if they have been in contact with a person know to have TB or if they are showing signs of the disease. If the check reveals some evidence of TB, then the person must complete a chest X-ray. Likewise, any individual that has a positive skin test reaction over 5mm will also need to get a chest X-ray. After administering the TST, the doctor will request you come back within 48 to 72 hours for a reading of results. If the result measures 5mm or larger, then you must complete the chest X-ray so that the doctor can rule out tuberculosis. The sample applies for pregnant women, those with 5mm or larger must undergo further examination.
Gonorrhea Urine Test
USCIS also required all applicants 15 years old and above to go through the gonorrhea test. Those who are younger than 14 years will also need to undergo the test if they show signs of it or have a history of it. Gonorrhea screening is just a simple urine test. If a doctor detects gonorrhea, you’ll need to undergo treatment first before you complete the I-693 forms. Applicants must guarantee and check with the doctor that they have indicated you went through gonorrhea testing.
Inadmissible Conditions and Illnesses
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), under Sections 212(a) and 221(d), the following conditions will make you inadmissible to the United States:
- A communicable disease that has significant public health implications like infectious syphilis, infectious leprosy, gonorrhea, and active tuberculosis
- Mental or physical disorder including history of behavior from the disorder that could be risky to the welfare, safety, and property of other people.
- Psychological or physical disorder including history of behavior from the disorder that could be risky to the welfare, safety, and property of other aliens and if that behavior is likely to recur.
- Alcohol or drug abuse
After the medical examination, the civil surgeon will either send the results directly to the US embassy or consulate, or they will give you a copy to hand-carry into your visa interview. If a copy is provided to you, never open the envelope. The embassy will not acknowledge the medical exam if the copy has been opened.
If you are handling your own green card application or would like to change your status, consult with an good US immigration lawyer to ensure you correctly complete the right paperwork.