Immigration Medical Exam – Reasons for Failing

u.s. immigration medical exam fail

Securing a Green Card is a significant step toward realizing the American dream. For individuals seeking permanent residency in the United States, one of the crucial steps is the Green Card Medical Exam, or immigration physical. This medical examination plays a vital role in ensuring the health and safety of immigrants and the communities they will become a part of. The exam assesses the applicant’s medical history and current health status to determine if they pose any potential health risks. 

There are reasons why someone would fail the US immigration medical exam and the medical conditions that could lead to inadmissibility.


Potential Inadmissibility Factors 


Communicable Diseases

A person may fail the US immigration medical exam if diagnosed with certain infectious diseases that could pose a public health risk. These include but are not limited to tuberculosis (TB), syphilis, gonorrhea, and leprosy. In most cases, applicants with these conditions will be considered inadmissible.

As of January 4, 2010, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed HIV infection from the list of infectious diseases of public health significance. This change means that individuals with HIV are no longer subject to specific immigration restrictions solely based on their HIV status.


Lack of Vaccination Compliance

Failure to meet the CDC’s required vaccination standards may result in inadmissibility. The law indeed requires that certain vaccines be administered at the time of the medical exam for US immigration purposes. The required vaccinations include the following:

  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Influenza (seasonal)
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia


The goal of these vaccination requirements is to protect both the individuals seeking immigration status and the broader population in the United States from preventable diseases. Compliance with the vaccination requirements is crucial for successful immigration proceedings and obtaining a visa or Green Card.


Physical or Mental Health Issues

While not all mental health conditions will lead to inadmissibility, certain severe mental health disorders that could harm the individual or others may be a reason for denial. Applicants with a history of violence, substance abuse, or a significant mental illness that interferes with their ability to function in society may face challenges during the medical examination.

To make an applicant inadmissible based on this ground, there must be both a physical or mental disorder and harmful behavior. An applicant is not considered inadmissible if they have either destructive behavior or a physical or psychological condition alone. Dangerous behavior refers to actions that may have threatened or posed a risk to the applicant’s or others’ safety, welfare, or property.

Alcohol use disorders are also considered as physical or mental disorders when determining inadmissibility. A history of criminal arrests and convictions for alcohol-related driving incidents could indicate health-related inadmissibility due to a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior.

If a criminal record printout shows a significant history of alcohol-related driving arrests, but the medical examination report indicates that no alcohol-related driving incidents were reported to or evaluated by the civil surgeon, it may lead to a conflict in the applicant’s case.

In such situations, an immigration officer may request the applicant to undergo a re-examination. 


Substance Abuse

Drug abuse or addiction history may raise concerns during the immigration medical exam. Applicants actively using illegal substances or having a history of substance abuse may be considered objectionable.

If an applicant is classified as a drug abuser or addict, they can reapply for an immigration benefit if their drug abuse or addiction is in remission. To be considered in remission, the applicant must undergo a new assessment by a civil surgeon. This assessment will determine if the drug abuse or addiction is no longer active and under control, making the applicant eligible to apply again for the immigration benefit.


Other Class B Medical Conditions

The medical exam for immigration purposes will also assess for “Class B conditions,” which refer to severe or permanent diseases or disabilities. While these conditions may not automatically make you inadmissible, they are significant enough to impact your ability to care for yourself, attend school, or work. They might also require substantial future medical treatment or institutionalization.

These Class B conditions can raise a separate concern related to inadmissibility: the likelihood of being considered a “public charge.” Being deemed a public charge means that an applicant may not be financially self-sufficient and may rely on government assistance. This consideration considers the potential burden an individual’s medical condition may place on public resources, which could affect their eligibility for a visa or Green Card.

Therefore, individuals with Class B conditions may need to provide additional documentation or evidence of their ability to support themselves financially to address concerns related to the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility during the immigration process.

A Vital Reminder for Applicants

The medical examination conducted for U.S. immigration purposes is not a comprehensive physical examination. Instead, its sole purpose is to screen for specific medical conditions relevant to U.S. immigration law. The panel physician is only obligated to assess the requirements specified by the U.S. Public Health Service for immigration purposes. It is essential to note that the physician is not required to diagnose or treat any other health issues that might be identified during the examination.

It is crucial to understand that this medical examination does not replace a thorough physical examination, consultation, diagnosis, or treatment provided by your primary health care provider. The immigration medical exam serves a specific purpose and should not be mistaken as a substitute for comprehensive healthcare from your regular medical professional.


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