There are many stages to the visa process for U.S. immigration – one being the medical examination you have to undergo. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect …
I went for my medical examination in the summer of 2013, so specifics may have changed since then, but this will give you an idea of what the doctor is going to look at, test for, and ask you about. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me via this form.
Why do you need to have a medical examination?
U.S. immigration has to determine if you have any communicable diseases, physical/mental disorders or abuse of/addiction to drugs that are inadmissible under immigration law. For example, the chest x-ray you will have checks for tuberculosis and the blood tests are to check for syphilis.
Do I have to undress for the exam?
Yes – you’re asked to strip down to your underwear (behind a screen) and are given a gown to wear. You will not be sitting in front of the doctor completely naked!
How much does it cost?
At the time of my medical exam in the UK (back in 2013) it had a fee of £235 (around $360). This does not include the extra costs of any vaccinations you may need. I had to have two shots at an added cost of £73 or about $112.
All up-to-date applicable fees will be listed on the USCIS website.
Can my doctor do the exam?
No – you have to have the medical examination carried out by a designated immigration physician. A list of the approved places you can go will be supplied to you when you receive written notification that you are to attend the medical appointment. If you use your own doctor it will not be accepted.
What do they ask/check when you are there?
The doctor will have reviewed your medical history (a full print-out is required from your usual doctor to be given to them). They will then give you a chest x-ray, weigh you, measure your height, do a quick general physical, carry out blood tests, question you about your health and administer any required vaccinations.
Questions from the doctor may include anything about pre-existing conditions, current or previous medical treatments, any former/current medications, any known diseases or mental health issues and they ask about drug and alcohol use/history. For example, I was asked if I had ever been arrested for drunk driving or driven drunk at any time (this was easy for me to answer as I rarely drink and actually never learned how to drive) – and a few other questions to determine if you’re likely to be a health risk.
How long does it take?
Expect to be there for a while, a good few hours, so bring a book or magazine.
Can I do the medical exam on the same day as my embassy interview?
Ideally, you should have the medical exam at least a week before your interview so there is time for the results to be handed over to the immigration officials at the embassy. The exact timings and requirements will be sent to you so be sure to read everything carefully as not having the medical examination results ready when needed may delay your visa being issued.
Will I know if I’ve passed the medical examination?
No – you find out at the interview as all medical results from the doctor are sealed.
If you do not pass your medical examination and are deemed inadmissible on health grounds that means you will not be granted a visa or entry into the USA.
What are the health reasons that are deemed to be inadmissible?
If you have a communicable disease that is a public health threat, if you haven’t received vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases, if you have a current or previous physical or mental disorder that is associated with harmful behaviour and poses a threat or you are a drug user, you will be deemed inadmissible.
Overall, my experience was efficient and not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Always be open, honest and answer all questions the doctor has and be clear you understand what the questions are asking you to explain.