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There are a lot of steps that immigrants hoping to make the United States their permanent home have to take. The application, interview, and waiting period are well-known, but another aspect of the process that is often not talked about in the United States Medical Exam. This exam ensures that the individuals coming into the United States are not carrying over a deadly disease that may spread through the U.S., resulting in the worsening health of those who already live there. If you are feeling a bit nervous about the United States Medical Exam, here is what you can expect:
Who Is Required to Go Through the Medical Exam?
The United States Medical Exam is required for individuals (both adults and children) looking to gain permanent residency in the U.S. through an immigration visa or green card. The doctor who administers the exam will ask you about your previous medical history, such as any pre-existing conditions, whether you have been in the hospital, and what surgeries or treatments you have previously received. They will also ask about vaccination history—age will be taken into account for small children when noting which vaccines are necessary.
What Is the Doctor Looking For?
The United States Medical Exam determines whether the individual seeking entry and residence in the U.S. is healthy and safe enough to be allowed in. This doesn’t mean that the immigrant has to be in perfect health, it just means that the individual must not carry or have any serious or communicable diseases, severe mental health disorders, or evidence of a drug or alcohol problem. Signs of any of these will result in immediate denial of your green card or visa.
When you first step into the doctor’s office, they will first check your passport and other identification documents to ensure that you are who you say you are. Then, the doctor will ask for a copy of your medical records to ensure that you are current with your vaccinations.
Vaccinations That Are Required for a Green Card or Visa
In 2021, the United States updated its list of required vaccinations to the following:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal disease
- Pneumococcal disease
It is important to note that these vaccinations may not apply to all age groups. You must bring a copy of your medical records (in English) for you and your children to the examination. The doctor will make notes of which vaccinations you already have, mark which ones do not apply to you or your children, and administer certain vaccines (such as influenza) if need be.
If you would like to know more about which vaccinations are required for certain age groups, you can find that information here.
Diseases That Are Reasons for Denial of Green Card or Visa Applications
The doctor for the United States Medical Examination will not tell you whether or not you have any health conditions present besides the ones that are of interest to the United States Immigration Authorities.
If you are applying to adjust status in the United States, the following diseases may make you inadmissible:
- Infectious leprosy
- Infectious stage syphilis
- Active tuberculosis
If you are seeking a visa or green card, the following diseases are cause for denial of your application:
- Infections leprosy
- Infectious stage syphilis
- Active tuberculosis
- Yellow fever
- Viral hemorrhagic fevers
- Severe acute respiratory syndromes
- Novel or reemergent influenza
- COVID-19 (updated as of 2021)
- Any disease that may pose a threat to public health
Other Diseases/Health Conditions
If you have an illness that causes you trouble but is not a threat to the general public, it will not directly affect your admissibility based on medical grounds. However, if your condition, such as heart disease or cancer, causes you to become dependent on government assistance, you may be denied on those grounds.
What Happens During the Medical Exam?
When you first see the doctor, they will go over the medical history provided on your medical documents. They will ask questions about any prescription drugs you are taking or if there are any psychiatric illnesses that have not been documented in your records.
The doctor will then ask you if you have been exhibiting or experiencing any symptoms that could show cardiovascular pulmonary, musculoskeletal, or neuropsychiatric disorders. Next, they will give you a physical examination, checking the following for any symptoms of the inadmissible disease which were listed above:
- Lymph nodes
- External genitalia
Once the physical examination has been complete, there will be a mental status examination. This is to assess intelligence, thought, comprehension, judgment, and behavior.
The doctor will also generally order a chest X-ray and a blood draw to be done to either test for any diseases that may not have any visible symptoms, or to confirm a suspected diagnosis.
All results of the examination will be sent in a sealed envelope to you to talk with your consulate or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) directly. Do not open the envelope until you meet with your consulate of the USCIS.
Contact Hernandez Law Group, P.C. in Dallas, Amarillo, and Abilene, Texas
The passionate immigration attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can represent you and your family in your visa petition to the USCIS. We are qualified to represent all immigration clients in the visa applications throughout the United States and in U.S. consular proceedings around the world. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation or for more information on our services.