Why Do I Have to Send a Medical Exam With My I-485 Application?

The purpose of the medical exam is to ensure you do not transmit an illness or pose a threat to public health.

What Is the Medical Exam?

The medical exam is a physical and medical history examination to evaluate current and past health. It’s a requirement that you include a medical examination with your I-485 Permanent Residency application.

The medical exam is required to be conducted by a civil surgeon or a panel physician. These physicians are current on the health requirements for the K-1 Visa and adjustment of status applications.

The medical exam includes: a physical examination (which usually involves a check of your extremities, lungs, heart, abdomen, lymph nodes, genitalia, sinuses, and eyes), evaluation for Tuberculosis (through a skin test and chest x-ray), a blood test, and a review of your vaccination record.

In addition to a physical examination, the civil surgeon or panel physician will review your medical history. This includes any hospitalization or any available documented medical history that is relevant to the health and safety of current United States citizens, such as present or past illness, disability, psychiatric disorder, or alcohol/drug use/addiction.

What is the Purpose of the Medical Exam?

The purpose of the medical exam is to ensure you do not transmit an illness or pose a threat to the public health of the United States. There are other grounds for inadmissibility to the United States that could delay your adjustment of status, such as criminal grounds, security or terrorism grounds, public charge grounds, or previous immigration violation grounds. However, the focus of this article is to inform you of the medical grounds for admissibility.

The World Health Organization has recently identified numerous worldwide illnesses, most recently: Avian Influenza, SARS, West Nile Virus, Mad Cow Disease, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Dengue Fever. These illnesses have affected people all over the world and with many people migrating to the United States from such places, the possibility of transmission is of great concern.

The Department of Homeland Security is charged with the protection of United States citizens; this includes public health. With migration to the United States as frequent as it currently is, the Department of Homeland Security has employed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to write technical instructions to assess migratory persons’ health. These instructions guide the civil surgeon or panel physician’s medical examination process.

Ultimately, this is not a complete medical exam so much as it is a screening to detect, and prevent, infectious disease or health hazards.

What is the Medical Exam Looking For?

The medical examination looks for communicable diseases that are a threat to public health, vaccinations against certain listed illnesses, and any physical or mental disorder that has associative harmful behavior (including drug abuse or addiction).

Currently, the communicable diseases are classified as “Class A” medical conditions and include: Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Chancroid, Gonorrhea, Granuloma Inguinal, Lymphogranuloma Venereum, Leprosy, and any disease you could be quarantined for (i.e. Cholera, Diphtheria, Small Pox, Plague, Infectious Tuberculosis, Pandemic Flu, Yellow Fever, Severe Respiratory Symptoms, or Hemorrhagic Fevers). Class A medical conditions also include any illness reportable as a public health emergency, such as Influenza, Polio, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), or Small Pox.

The civil surgeon or panel physician will also look to verify that you have been vaccinated against certain illnesses. The required vaccines include: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria Toxoids, Hib, Hepatitis B, Varicella, Pneumococcal, Influenza, Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, and Meningococcal.

If a Class A medical condition is found, waivers may be granted at the discretion of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration services). The waivers are determined on a case-by-case basis after USCIS discusses the public health significance with public health authorities, typically the CDC. The form for a waiver can be found at www.uscis.gov/i-690.

How Can I Obtain a Medical Examination?

To obtain a medical examination, please visit uscis.gov. USCIS provides a tool you can use to search for an authorized civil surgeon or panel physician through your zip code or by selecting your state and modifying your search from there. The medical exam is required to be conducted by an authorized physician.

The physician conducting the medical examination should have a current I-693 form, but it is advised that you print your own off and bring it to your appointment, along with your vaccination record, and any other medical history reports available to you. To print your own medical examination form please visit: www.uscis.gov/i-693.

Other Important Information

Upon conclusion of the medical exam, the treating civil surgeon or panel physician will seal your results in an envelope or send the results directly to USCIS. If the treating physician gives the sealed results to you, do not open the envelope.

Please note, that if you were admitted to the United States as a fiancé and already underwent a medical examination, there is no need for you to do so again. The medical exam is valid for your I-485 application for up to one year after signed and sealed by the treating civil surgeon or panel physician.

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