One of the requirements for your green card application is a medical examination appointment—which is essentially a thorough medical background check conducted by a doctor that is approved by the United States government. If you are applying for a green card, there is no way around this process, so it’s important to realize how your health (both physical and mental) can impact the ultimate decision of your application and case being denied or accepted.

 The appointment will include a physical, chest X-ray as well as blood tests for any drugs present in one's system. It is important for immigrants who are in the processing of applying for lawful permanent residence to be aware of the fact that if any part of the medical examination is processed and shows that one has some issue or problem, it could mean that one's application could be denied.

In some cases, an immigration attorney may need to be hired if there is a disagreement between the results of the test and the word of the applicant in question.

Here is a list of some of the most common issues that present problems for applicants surrounding their health and medical examinations:

  • A test result that reveals a dangerous communicable disease
  • A lack of proper vaccinations (in which case an applicant may need to get vaccinated and then start the process all over again)
  • Drug addiction—immigrants should be advised that even having marijuana present in one's system could be interpreted by USCIS officials of a “drug addiction”. This issue alone is responsible for denying many applicants from green cards.
  • Mental illness or disorders. Urine and/or blood tests will reveal what concentrations of psychiatric medication and/or prescriptions are in one's system. Usually, if an individual has been taking some type of medication for a long time it will be built up in their blood system.

In addition, although doctors cannot test for alcohol dependence or alcoholism in general, USCIS officials will be able to determine at a later date if an individual has any alcohol-related offenses such as DUI. It is required for individuals on their I-485 application to list any and such offenses, and the realization of such issues by immigration officials is considered a health-related problem that is grounds for inadmissibility.  

What about Covid-19?

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization’s list of quarantinable diseases included cholera, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, as well as leprosy, tuberculosis, and any novel or pandemic flu. It also includes any illnesses recognized as a public health emergency. Now, Covid-19 has been added to the list and presents new complications to the green card process because an individual could very easily test positive for Covid during their medical examination. Although, this is still not considered an issue is grounds for inadmissibility because of the widespread nature of the pandemic and the fact that there is no cure yet.

What Covid does mean is that there will be longer wait times, in general, to get appointments booked, and also that those who are in the middle of the application process should protect themselves by using the current WHO guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19 such as:  

  • Wearing a mask in public
  • Not entering crowded establishments for long periods of time with little ventilation
  • Forgoing international travel
  • Making sure to wash hands after touching door knobs and ATMs

Mental Health Evaluation

An immigration psychological evaluation may include surveys and assessments that relate to personality inventories, adaptive behavior scales, mental status measures, partner violence surveys, and measures of violent behavior and tendencies. It’s important to prep before such an evaluation and understand how such answers will affect your chances of having your application for a green card accepted.

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