Applying for a green card requires more than just filing applications and submitting documentation. Most individuals who are seeking U.S. permanent residency are also required to go through a medical examination by a doctor certified by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
While preparing for your doctor visit, there are five things you need to know about your green card medical exam to make the process go smoothly. You’ll also want to know how to submit your medical exam results to USCIS with your green card application.
Why Am I Required to Take a Medical Exam?
The green card medical exam is required to ensure you meet the health-related green card requirements. In other words, it exists to make sure no health-related issues make you inadmissible to the United States or ineligible for a green card.
What Is the Doctor Looking for?
The doctor or his professional staff will ask you about your medical history. The purpose of a green card medical exam is to test if you have certain health conditions that could deny your application.
Class A conditions are the most important. They include:
- Having a communicable disease of public health significance
- Lacking certain vaccinations
- Disorders that make you engage in harmful behavior, to yourself or others
- A history of addiction or drug abuse, even if you’ve never been charged with a crime
There are also Class B conditions, which are serious or permanent diseases and disabilities. These diseases don’t make you a danger to the public, but they could make you unable to support yourself. Getting a green card requires you to be financially self-sufficient and not reliant upon public assistance.
That said, getting a diagnosis can put you on the path toward getting the necessary treatment. With luck, you can be cured. There are five important things you should know about your exam before you go in.
1. Only Designated Doctors Can Conduct the Exam
Only certain doctors designated by the USCIS, also called authorized civil surgeons, can conduct a green card medical exam. The USCIS provides an online tool to help you find an authorized doctor.
2. You Must Provide a Record of All Previous Vaccinations
You will be required to be vaccinated for any diseases for which you cannot provide a vaccination record. The number of vaccines given will vary according to your medical history and the season.
For example, the influenza vaccine is only given from October through March. In order to be a permanent resident, you must have vaccines for the following:
- Tetanus and diphtheria
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal disease
- Pneumococcal disease
- Seasonal influenza
If you have an immunization record, bring it with you to your exam. If you don’t have one, talk with your doctor in your country of origin to get a copy. If the vaccination reports are not in English, you will also need to bring a written, full English translation.
COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
The COVID-19 virus qualifies as a quarantinable communicable disease. This COVID-19 vaccination requirement goes into effect on October 1, 2021. Immigration applicants must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, whether that means a single dose or a two-dose vaccine. Bring your vaccination record with you to your medical exam.
Be aware that you will likely be denied entry to the U.S. if you have:
- Tested positive for COVID-19 and do not have a recent negative result
- A recent COVID-19 test with pending results
- Symptoms of COVID-19, including fever or loss of smell
- Been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Healthcare provider instructions to self-quarantine
You may be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement if it is not available to your age group or geographical area.
3. The Doctor Will Ask You Questions to Assess Your Mental Health
One of the key points of the green card medical exam is to determine if there are any mental health concerns such as drug abuse or harmful behavior that might make you ineligible for a green card. Do not be surprised by some of the questions you’re asked.
The civil surgeon may also ask you questions that seem out of place in an attempt to analyze your behavior and reactions. Stay calm and answer them truthfully.
4. They Will Test You for Communicable Diseases
The doctor will also conduct a physical exam to see if you have any communicable diseases, including sexually transmitted infections. They will take a blood draw from you to help with this. The following diseases may make you inadmissible:
- Leprosy (infectious)
- Syphilis (infectious stage)
- Tuberculosis (active)
A tuberculosis test also called a tuberculin skin test, will also take place. You will have to come back to the doctor’s office two days later so that he or she can analyze your skin reactions associated with the test. If the final results for any of the communicable diseases are positive, the doctor will prescribe proper treatment.
5. The Cost of the Exam Varies
There is no USCIS filing fee associated with the green card medical exam form. However, each doctor will charge differently for the medical service. Some doctors will accept health insurance but others may not.
Also, the cost will depend on your particular situation. If you need vaccinations, an X-ray, or prescription drugs to treat a health problem, you will be charged according to the doctor’s rates. The USCIS cannot help you with these charges.
What to Bring to Your Immigration Medical Exam
Bring Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record). Don’t forget your government-issued photo ID. Either a valid driver’s license or passport will do.
If you are under age 14 or cannot drive, bring a school ID. Otherwise, bring any form of identification with your name, birth date, place of birth, and your parent’s full name.
What Does the Green Card Medical Exam Include?
Your medical exam will involve a doctor checking your eyes, ears, nose, and throat. The doctor may also look for visible signs of disease on your:
- Hands and feet
- Lymph nodes
You can expect a medical examiner to listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Your medical exam will include a blood test. If you test positive for tuberculosis, you may require a chest X-ray.
If you are pregnant, you may postpone a requested X-ray until after delivery. Contact your respective embassy or consular office for more information.
Submitting Your Medical Exam
After the exam, the doctor will fill out Form I-693. Both you and the doctor are required to sign the form. Once done, the form is placed into a sealed envelope. Do not open it! If the envelope is altered or opened, the USCIS will not accept it.
A failure to submit Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record) may result in the denial of a green card application. You must submit your form along with your application within 60 days of the examination.
If your application is denied, your medical exam will still be valid for two years after the signature. Some would-be permanent residents prefer to wait until after their interview is scheduled before taking the examination. Bring the finished form to your interview.