Tampa’s Health + Glow Blog
Navigating the USCIS Medical Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide for Immigrants
Securing the highly coveted green card signifying permanent residency in the United States is a privilege, not a right. To earn this right, applicants must follow specific procedures and steps, including completing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration medical exam.
As a USCIS-designated civil surgeon, Tampa, Florida-based Health + Glow lead physician, Dr. Swapna M. Kallikadan, is authorized to conduct immigration medical exams. Fluent in multiple languages, Dr. Kallikadan is skilled at compassionately guiding immigrants through the medical exam process and helping them fulfill the medical requirements for a successful immigration application. To help prospective Tampa-area green card holders navigate the USCIS immigration medical exam, she has prepared this step-by-step guide.
Understanding the USCIS Medical Exam
The USCIS immigration medical exam is designed to assess the health and fitness of green card applicants to help protect the public health of the U.S. population. Green card processing will not be completed without it, as it is an essential component of the permanent residency application process. The primary elements of the immigration medical exam include:
- Physical and mental examination
- Medical history review
- Immunization and vaccine record review
- Targeted testing for specific illnesses and disease
- Drug and alcohol testing
While the USCIS does not require green card applicants to be in perfect health, certain medical conditions may make them ineligible for permanent residency status. Known as “medical inadmissibility,” the five primary health-related reasons for denial are:
- Active and untreated communicable diseases
- Mental disorders associated with harmful behavior
- Unfitness to work
- Lack of records proving vaccination
- Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse
These health-related reasons for denial do not necessarily make one automatically inadmissible on medical grounds, as the USCIS reviews them on a case-by-case basis. For example, drug testing and/or verification that you have participated in a drug treatment program can help overcome this hurdle. If your medical exam shows that you are unfit for work, you may still be approved if you can provide evidence that you can support yourself and will not depend on U.S. government benefits.
On the other hand, if you cannot prove that you have been treated for or cured of an infectious disease, you will undoubtedly face green card denial. Likewise, if the medical exam indicates that you can’t prove proper vaccination status, have a fatal illness, actively abuse alcohol and/or drugs, or your health condition suggests future dependency on government benefits.
Step 1: Schedule Your USCIS Medical Exam
If you’re applying for permanent residency within the U.S., you can undergo the medical exam before or after submitting your green card application. Exam results must be signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days before applying but remain valid for two years after applying.
To schedule your immigration medical exam in the Tampa area, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Kallikadan at Health + Glow. Otherwise, you can find a designated civil surgeon on the USCIS “Find a Civil Surgeon” portal.
Step 2: Prepare for Your USCIS Medical Exam
In preparation for your USCIS medical exam, you’ll need to collect as much relevant documentation as possible to ensure the process goes smoothly. If you’re currently being treated for a health condition, try to bring a letter from your doctor that details the treatment plan and progress. Review Step 3 to review your vaccination status and schedule an appointment to receive any missing vaccines, if applicable. Other documentation you’ll need to bring to your exam include:
- Medical records
- Vaccination and immunization records
- Copies of any chest X-rays
- Government-issued photo ID
- Payment for medical exam fees
- Health insurance information, if applicable.
Step 3: Vaccinations and Immunization Records
The USCIS requires green card applicants to show proof of vaccination against more than 12 diseases. Required vaccinations include:
- Mumps, measles, and rubella
- Hepatitis A and B
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B
- Pneumococcal Pneumonia
Because vaccination protocols are subject to change, you should double-check the USCIS’s latest vaccination requirements. Your civil surgeon may be able to provide waivers for some vaccinations due to age, medical inappropriateness, or lack of availability.
Step 4: Your USCIS Medical Exam Appointment
Your immigration medical exam is more of a screening than a complete physical exam, with consultation, diagnosis, and potential treatment. During the medical exam, your civil surgeon will physically review your eyes, ears, nose, throat, lymph nodes, abdomen, major organs, and skin for abnormalities. The exam includes a chest x-ray, blood testing, and urine testing, as well as a mental health assessment and drug and alcohol screening.
Step 5: Completing the I-693 Form
The results of your immigration medical exam are recorded on the USCIS Form I-693. You are responsible for filling out Parts 1 and 2 of the form, but wait to sign it until your civil surgeon can witness it. Part 3 is the interpreter’s contact information, should you need one, and part 4 is the contact information of anyone else who fills out these sections on behalf of the applicant. Your civil surgeon fills out the rest of the form.
Step 6: Post-Exam Follow-Up and Submission
After the exam and once your civil surgeon has completed Form I-693, they will provide the form in a sealed envelope that you will submit to USCIS as part of your green card application. Do not open or tamper with the envelope, as the USCIS will not accept the form if the envelope has been opened or altered.
In some cases, you might need to be referred to the health department or other doctor to further assess any health conditions found. Your civil surgeon will complete Form I-693 and provide it to you once they have received information about your follow-up appointment work.
Step 7: Waiting for the USCIS Response
The USCIS response time for determining medical admissibility varies. Sometimes, the agency might need additional information or have concerns about potential medical issues. In this event, the agency will issue a “Request for Evidence” notice to correct Form I-693 deficiencies or a notice of “Intent to Deny” to address health concerns. In either case, you should bring such notifications to your civil surgeon to resolve any issues that are raised.
Contact Health + Glow to Schedule Your USCIS Medical Exam
To assist you with this integral component of your immigration journey, turn to the compassionate professionalism of Dr. Kallikadan at Heath + Glow in Tampa. To schedule your appointment, contact us today.