The Immigration Medical Exam: An Overview for Applicants

The Immigration Medical Exam: An Overview for Applicants

Moving abroad entails a lot of paperwork and processes, of which an immigration medical examination is one crucial part that is often overlooked during a green card or a visa application. For those in the know, the exam plays a role in determining an applicant’s admissibility to the new country. Although daunting, its purpose and procedures are not impossible to understand and navigate confidently with adequate information.

This guide strips the immigration medical exam down to its essence. That said, let’s dive right in.

Purpose of an Immigration Medical Examination

An immigration medical exam, also known as an immigration physical, fulfils two main goals:

  • It ensures that individuals seeking immigration do not pose a health risk to the host country’s population. This includes assessing the presence of contagious diseases that could be transmitted to others.
  • It helps identify any health conditions that might require medical treatment, thereby ensuring that applicants are not solely dependent on the host country’s healthcare system upon arrival.

Pursuant to the regulations and guidelines established by the US Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this medical exam also serves to identify those who are deemed inadmissible. Medical conditions that may account for such include:

  • Communicable diseases such tuberculosis, syphilis and gonorrhoea
  • Serious mental health issues with associated harmful behaviour
  • Drug abuse or addiction
  • Lack of vaccination records

An immigration medical exam does not substitute for a full physical examination nor does it automatically grant admission to the country. It is solely meant to detect certain medical conditions pertinent to immigration.


Applicants mandated to undergo an immigration physical include immigrants, refugees, and status adjusters. This does not apply to non-immigrants, short-term transit visa holders, and undocumented immigrants.

Medical Examiner Selection

The immigration medical exam is conducted by a government-approved doctor, who can either be a civil surgeon or a panel physician, depending on the applicant’s location. While US-based applicants, including status adjusters, are to see a civil surgeon designated by USCIS, foreign applicants can contact a panel physician certified by the US Department of State.

Requirements for Immigration Medical Exams

When preparing for the exam, applicants are expected to bring along specific paperwork. Those applying at various U.S. consulates may check in with their respective embassies for a more detailed list. In general, these documents should be available:

  • Identification documents, such as a valid passport or national identity card
  • Medical reports detailing past illnesses, surgeries, or ongoing medical conditions
  • Prescriptions and medication information on the prescribed drugs, dosages, and frequencies
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (for applicants seeking adjustment of status)
  • Vaccination records
  • Chest X-rays (if applicable)
  • Passport photographs
  • Examination fee, which varies by doctor

To deem a vaccination record valid, it must include the name of the applicant, vaccinations received, their dates, and medical provider’s information. The Immigration and Nationality Act has different vaccination criteria determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depending on what vaccines are considered to be in the public health interest. Regardless, depending on the age of the applicant, the vaccinations that might be required for immigration physical are:

  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • COVID-19
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal Pneumonia
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
  • Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis (Tdap/DTP/DTaP) vaccine
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine

This list may be updated periodically as per CDC’s recommendation, and there are certain exemptions. Hence, applicants should visit the designated civil surgeon for the vaccine requirements for the purposes of immigration. Usually it is not advised to applicants to anticipate which vaccines are indicated; applicants should ask the civil surgeon first.

Immigration Physical Procedure

Immigration medical exams are the same for both civil surgeons and panel physicians. At their core lies a physical examination and blood tests. The procedure for US immigration includes these steps:

Preliminary Interview

During the interview, applicants will be required to answer questions related to their current and past health, including previous hospitalizations or illnesses, prescriptions or over-the-counter (OTC) medication taken regularly, drug abuse and addiction, disabilities, mental health disorders, and any history of communicable diseases.

Physical Examination

At this stage, the physician will examine the applicant for any medical conditions that may require treatment upon arrival or pose a risk to public health. This includes signs of contagious infections, mental disorders, or substance abuse.


Upon completing a preliminary review of the physical exam, the doctor may request blood testing, urine tests and possibly chest X-rays, as deemed necessary, to check for conditions like syphilis, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea.

Vaccination Review

As earlier noted, a panel physician or civil surgeon is expected to review the candidate’s vaccination records to ascertain the current status of their immunizations. This ensures that the individual has met the necessary health requirement and does not present a risk to the community.

Post-Examination Recommendations

After compiling the results, the medical examiner may make recommendations regarding the applicant’s health and fitness for immigration. The doctor then signs the Immigration Medical Exam Report Form I-693, which is sealed in an envelope.

Applicants within the U.S. are to submit these documents to the USCIS, while those abroad should send them to the U.S. consulate in their home countries or bring them along to the immigration interview. It’s important that the seal remains intact as breaking it renders the report invalid.

Immigration Medical Examination Fees

A good rule of thumb when choosing a doctor for the exam is to confirm the costs before making that choice. The actual fee may vary based on the location and medical examiner. As of 2023, most civil surgeons in the U.S. charge between $300 to $500 for the examination and completion of the form; this examination is not covered by health insurance. Any vaccinations needed carry additional cost, but they are usually covered in full by health insurance.


Having read this guide, anyone interested in taking the immigration physical should easily understand how it works and what to expect. Please note, that even if immigration physician finds a contagious condition in an applicant, it does not mean that this applicant is automatically disqualified. On the contrary, the applicant is given an opportunity to treat the infectious condition, and after appropriate treatment, the applicant is considered admissible to US.

About Author

Dr. Isaac Z. Pugach, M.D. is a USCIS designated civil surgeon, practicing at Pure Spring Medical in Plano, Texas. He has been performing immigration physical examinations in the Dallas area for the past ten years.

The post Demystifying the Immigration Medical Exam: A Comprehensive Breakdown for Applicants appeared first on Travel Experta - Travel, Lifestyle, Freedom.


By: Marina 'Travel Experta'
Title: Demystifying the Immigration Medical Exam: A Comprehensive Breakdown for Applicants
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Published Date: Wed, 31 May 2023 15:25:15 +0000

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