Here is what you should know about medical examinations that are part of applying for non-short-term visas and green cards – including required vaccinations and additional challenges people with chronic health conditions and pregnant people may face.
If You’re Seeking a Long-term Visa
Before being granted a visa for a long-term stay in the United States, you must pass a medical examination, regardless of your age. This medical examination occurs in your home country before entering the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you are seeking visas for a long-term stay or permanent residence in the U.S., you must receive the following vaccinations (and may be able to apply for exemptions). This includes the COVID-19 vaccine, but there are exceptions for people with medical and religious concerns.
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
- Haemophilus influenzae type B
- Hepatitis A
- hepatitis B
- Meningococcal disease
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
Medical Examinations at American Consulates or Embassies
Each country has panel physicians approved by American consulates or embassies. Panel physicians are “medically trained, licensed, and experienced medical doctors practicing overseas who are appointed by the local US embassy or consulate,” according to the CDC.
There are over 760-panel physicians, and they receive instructions from the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Quality Assessment Program. For example, in Canada, there are five approved clinics, you can go to when trying to get a visa to go to the United States.
Instructions for medical examinations may differ per country, so be sure to confirm accurate information with your local U.S. embassy or consulate. The doctor evaluating you for a visa will test you for “communicable diseases of public health significance,” which are infectious diseases that migrants could spread to U.S. citizens.
Information for People with Disabilities and People with Substance Use Disorders
If you are wondering whether having a physical, mental, or chronic health condition can prevent someone from obtaining a temporary visa or a green card, the short answer is “it depends.”
- If you have a health condition that may require you to seek social security disability benefits once in the U.S., this may be used as a reason to deny you a visa or a green card. For example, if you receive disability benefits due to lupus in your home country, the U.S. may deny you a visa. However, being chronically ill or disabled will not lead to an automatic rejection.
- If you have a documented history of substance use, this may also be a reason why an application for a visa or for a green card could be rejected ─ even if you’ve never been arrested for substance abuse issues. Consulting with an immigration attorney while applying for either a visa or green card if you have a history of substance abuse may be helpful.
Information for Pregnant People
Pregnancy is another health reason why you may be denied a visa to the U.S. Concerns about “birth tourism” in the United States, which is when pregnant people go to the United States with the internet to give birth there, are widespread because a child born in the U.S. is eligible for U.S. citizenship even if neither of the parents are U.S. citizens.
- If you are traveling to the U.S. and are a citizen of one of the 40 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply for a B1 or B2 work or tourist visa. However, you may face difficulties if you are applying for a B2 visa and are pregnant. A 2020 letter from the Department of State outlines that if pregnant people apply for a B2 visa for medical reasons, they must provide evidence that they are unable to obtain specialist medical care in their home country.
If you have any questions about medical examinations when applying for a visa or for permanent residency, contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Privacy in a Pandemic (Journal of AHIMA)
- COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Immigration Medical Examinations (UCIS)
- How Do I Get a Disability-Based Waiver? U.S. Citizenship Application Help (Washington Law Help)
- Medical Examination FAQs (U.S. Department of State)
- Passport And Visa Privileges in Global Health (Forbes)
As of 2010, HIV/AIDs is no longer considered to be a disease that would prevent someone from being able to obtain a visa to enter the U.S.
Among the steps to becoming voting citizens, immigrants are tested on how well they read, write and understand English and how much they grasp U.S. history and government. Since 1994, the U.S. has allowed immigrants with disabilities to receive waivers for such requirements. In the three quarters from October 2021 through June 2022, about 45,000 immigrants had applied for a disability waiver.