The path to American citizenship has grown more tenuous over the past month as the Trump administration abruptly shifted policy on immigration. What hasn’t changed are the health requirements for foreigners seeking entry or visa status in the United States.
Here’s what you need to know about the medical grounds for inadmissibility and the medical exam for immigration that you can expect when seeking visa status.
Medical Exam for Immigration – What You Should Know
The grounds for inadmissibility include health characteristics such as illness, infection, or drug abuse. Visitors with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis can be denied entry, although there are waivers available. Drug users or traffickers are excluded from entry. While these categories of inadmissibility include new immigrants, it also can apply to individuals currently living in the U.S. and seeking extended or permanent residency.
Adults and children seeking visa status are required to undergo a medical examination by a licensed doctor approved by the U.S. consulate or USCIS. You will not be able to use your own physician for the examination unless they are an approved provider. You also must pay for the exam.
The exam seeks to establish your health; the provider will ensure that you don’t have any communicable diseases, mental disorders, or drug habits that would deem you inadmissible for a visa.
You must have a number of preventative vaccinations before receiving a U.S. green card. As of 2016, this includes:
- Haemophilus influenza type b
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
If you’ve already received these vaccines, you must bring a copy of your medical records; the examining physician will not take your word for it.
The exam will consist of a physical along with a number of questions related to your medical history including:
- Your history of alcohol or drug use
- Incidences of psychiatric illness
- Symptoms of cardiovascular, pulmonary or musculoskeletal disorders
The examining physician will review other available records including chest x-rays to determine if you have ever had tuberculosis, and employment and school records.
The physical exam will include looking at your eyes, nose, throat and ears, extremities, lymph nodes, skin, and genitalia. The physician will listen to your internal organs and perform a mental status exam to assess your comprehension, mood, and behavior. The doctor will draw your blood and order chest x-rays.
When the exam is complete, the physician will give you a sealed envelope with the USCIS form and the results of the exam. Do not open the envelope before submitting.
What Happens if You Are Deemed “Inadmissible”
There are currently four agencies that could block your green card application or any other visa or immigration status:
- The U.S. State Department
- The Department of Homeland Security
- Customs and Border Protection
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS)
If you are deemed inadmissible, there are ways around the ruling, which could include receiving successful treatment for illness or a waiver to overlook the issue. If this situation occurs, we recommend a free 30-minute consultation with Katz Law Office, Ltd., as a way to determine all of your options.