In order to complete the application process for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence), you must undergo a medical examination. The purpose is to ensure that you are not inadmissible to the U.S. on public health grounds; in other words, that you don't have a communicable disease or other condition that would impact U.S. health or safety.
However, you cannot simply undergo a medical examination with your regular doctor. Instead, a civil surgeon who has been specially designated by the relevant U.S. immigration authorities must perform the required medical examination. The civil surgeons who are qualified to perform green card medical examinations receive special, ongoing training about immigration issues.
This article will detail how to find such a doctor, and what the doctor will do for you in furtherance of your goal of immigrating to the United States.
If you are applying for your green card from overseas, through a U.S. consulate or embassy, the consulate will supply you with a list of authorized "panel physicians" not long before you go in for your visa interview. Or, you might be able to access the list through the website of the consulate you'll be visiting.
If you are applying for your green card from within the United States, otherwise known as "adjusting status" (a process that's mostly open only to foreign nationals who are lawfully in the U.S.), you can access the list of qualified civil surgeons from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The easiest way is probably by checking the USCIS Find a Doctor page. Or, you can call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283.
In preparation for the medical examination, you should gather the following:
The doctor will talk with you, review your medical and vaccination history, and give you a physical examination, a chest X-ray, and blood test.
Children under the age of 15 will normally not be given the X-ray or blood tests.
If you are pregnant, you can ask that the X-ray be postponed, though whether this will be allowed depends on which country you are coming from.
During the physical portion of the examination, the doctor will, at a minimum, look at your eyes, ears, nose and throat, extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, skin, and external genitalia.
The doctor will also give you any vaccinations that you are lacking, based on a list of required vaccinations. These include:
You don't need to worry that if you go into your medical examination with, for example, a head cold or an irregular heartbeat, your green card will be denied. In fact, the doctor is expected to examine you only for conditions that are relevant to the immigration process, so don't expect this to be a complete review of your health.
Only certain medical conditions can make you inadmissible to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), under Sections 212(a) or 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(a) and I.N.A. Section 221(d) or 8 U.S.C. Section 1201(d). These include:
Some of these diseases can be cured or overcome, and some grounds of inadmissibility can be waived (legally forgiven). See a lawyer for a full analysis and help with preparing a waiver application.
If you are applying for your green card from overseas, through a U.S. consulate or embassy, the authorized panel physician will either give you the medical examination results to hand-carry to the visa interview or will send the results directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate.
If you are adjusting status, the doctor will complete Form I-693 and give it to you in a sealed envelope. You must then submit the envelope to USCIS, at your green card interview. The envelope will not be accepted unless it remains sealed.
The results of your examination remain valid for up to one year before you file your application for a green card.