Definition and Overview

An immigration medical examination is one of the requirements that need to be completed by anyone who wants to immigrate to another country. Most countries only accept examinations that are performed at an authorized doctor’s office or clinic, and can only be performed by accredited physicians. Each country also has individual standards on the results and necessary immunizations immigrants are supposed to meet. Failure to meet these standards, as well as failure to complete the medical exam, will put the immigrant’s application at risk.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

An immigration medical exam is a necessary step for anyone who wants to immigrate or live in another country. This is not a comprehensive exam and is rather a basic one that screens for a predetermined list of medical conditions specified by the country of destination. If the results show that the person is suffering from certain health issues, the authorized physician is not required to call for further tests, provide diagnosis, or recommend treatment options. His only responsibility is to report the results of the exam. Thus, the results of an immigration medical exam should not be used for the diagnosis and treatment of a disease or any other purpose than the immigration application.

Furthermore, the results will only be valid for one year after the date of the test. If the results expire prior to successful immigration into the country of destination, the exam has to be performed again.

How is the Procedure Performed?

The medical exam should be performed by an authorized doctor at an authorized clinic or hospital. Countries typically provide a list of these authorized physicians who provide a series of examination that adhere to the standards set by the destination country. These physicians will charge a fee for the exam, which is separate from the immigrant application fee. It is the applicant’s responsibility to schedule an appointment with an authorized physician at least seven days before his scheduled immigration appointment to provide ample time for the test results to become ready, which takes about 4 to 5 days.

The scope of the medical exam varies depending on the patient’s age. For children or minors, the exam will involve:

  • General physical exam
  • Immunizations

For the regular adult, the exam will involve:

  • General physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood tests

The general physical exam will check the health of:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Throat
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Abdomen
  • Lymph nodes
  • Skin
  • Extremities
  • External genitalia

Any special conditions should be disclosed; these include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Existing illness, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and so on
  • Medications being taken

Possible Risks and Complications

As this is only a medical examination and does not involve an actual procedure, it does not pose any risks to the patient.

However, there is one possible complication involving pregnant women during the test. Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid any type of x-ray scan due to the potential risks to her unborn child. However, the chest x-ray scan is an important requirement in an immigration medical examination and is strongly required by some countries. In such cases, pregnant women should still undergo the exam provided that the authorized physician and clinic/laboratory provide special abdominal and pelvic protection to ensure the safety of the baby. For some countries, pregnant women may be exempted from the chest x-ray requirement provided that a written certification of pregnancy, signed by the applicant’s personal obstetrician, is presented.

Pertaining to the test results, certain medical conditions can potentially complicate the patient’s immigration application. Countries typically set additional requirements or standards in handling existing illnesses. These conditions typically include:

  • Mental health issues – Applicants showing mental retardation or disabilities will be required to submit a separate report outlining the exact nature of the mental issue and the applicant’s special requirements in terms of care, supervision, and education. If the applicant has received treatment for the said mental issue, the report should include a certification outlining the diagnosis, how long the treatment took, and the prognosis of the patient. In addition, if the applicant has a history of self-harm and violent behavior towards others, these should be sufficiently linked to the underlying mental issue to rule out other possible causes such as drug or alcohol addiction.

  • Syphilis – An immigration applicant who suffered from syphilis will be required to present a certificate signed by a doctor attesting that he has been treated for the disease. If treatment was not received, he should provide a written explanation as to why this is so; the explanation letter should still be signed by a doctor.

  • Tuberculosis – If a person has been treated for tuberculosis, a letter outlining the diagnosis, the treatment procedure, and the treatment results should be presented. The certification of treatment should also include the types of medications prescribed as well as the dates when they were taken.

  • Chronic medical conditions – Applicants suffering from chronic medical conditions and are taking maintenance medications should provide a doctor’s certificate outlining the condition, current treatment, a list of medications taken, and the patient’s prognosis.
    Reference:

  • University of Kentucky College of Public Health: USCIS Immigration Medical Examinations

  • US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health - Tuberculosis, Migration, and Medical Examination:
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