How to Prepare for your Green Card Medical Exam

In order to qualify for a U.S. green card, you must first attend a medical exam given by a USCIS-approved "civil surgeon."

To be eligible for a U.S. Green Card, you must first complete a medical exam. However, this isn’t just a normal checkup.

Instead, you must have a USCIS-approved physician sign off on a number of specific tests and checks.

They will also review your medical history and may conduct short, non-invasive procedures.

In this article, we’ll talk about the best way to prepare for a Green Card medical exam. First, however, we’ll briefly talk about finding the right doctor.

How Do I Find a Doctor to Conduct My Green Card Medical Exam?

doctor in consultation with female patient in office

In most cases, your regular doctor cannot conduct a green card medical exam. Instead, you will need to go to a physician who has been explicitly approved to do so.

This process will work slightly differently depending on whether or not you are currently in the United States.

Keep in mind that the U.S. government does not regulate the fees that doctors can charge for a Green Card medical exam.

For this reason, it can be a good idea to do your own research before settling on a doctor.

If You Currently Live in the United States:

If you are already in the United States, your medical exam must be conducted by an approved civil surgeon.

Despite the name, most civil surgeons aren’t actually surgeons. Instead, they are physicians licensed by USCIS.

The best way to find a civil surgeon near you is USCIS’s find a doctor website. You can also contact USCIS directly.

If You Currently Live Outside the United States:

If you are currently outside the United States, you will have to find an approved physician. This is a doctor authorized by the U.S. Department of State to conduct medical exams outside the U.S.

The state department website lists approved physicians according to the closest embassy or consulate.

For example, if you were looking for a physician in the Netherlands, you would check the Amsterdam consulate page.

This will direct you to a list of physicians, any of whom can perform the exam. You can also find further instructions about your medical exam on this page.

What Will Happen at My Medical Exam?

medical examination with a small child.

During a green card medical exam, your doctor will generally do the following:

  • Briefly review your paperwork, including your passport.
  • Perform a brief physical exam, which may include x-rays.
  • Perform tests for infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Administer any vaccines that you still need. If a vaccine is not available in your area, you may be able to obtain a waiver.

In unusual circumstances, your doctor may need to conduct additional tests or refer you to another physician.

This may delay your green card, but it’s not the same as failing the medical exam.

If everything goes well, at the end of your visit your doctor will give you a sealed envelope. Leave this enveloped sealed, and include it with your green card application.

What Will Disqualify Me from Receiving a Green Card?

According to law, you may not be admitted to the United States if you have any of the following conditions, and are not being treated for them:

  • Chronic infectious diseases, including gonorrhea, infectious leprosy, syphilis, and tuberculosis.
  • Other potentially dangerous diseases, such as several types of influenza.

In these cases, your physician can sign off on your green card as soon as they are satisfied that your condition was treated.

Additionally, having a history of drug or alcohol abuse, as well as violent or harmful behavior, can potentially pose issues.

If you have such a history, your doctor may require you to present additional information, and possibly undergo treatment.

Once this treatment is complete, you may be able to proceed in the process.

How Do I Prepare for My Green Card Medical Exam?

administrator looking at medical record

For the most part, preparing for your green card medical exam is mostly a matter of getting your medical records together.

However, you should also avoid actions that would put your results in jeopardy. For example, never do drugs in the weeks and months leading up to your medical exam.

Assemble Your Paperwork

The most common issues which pop up during green card medical exams come from incorrect or incomplete paperwork.

You should always bring up to date versions of the following documents to your medical examination:

  • Your passport
  • A full a copy of your medical history (including a list of any medications you are taking as well as records of previous tests)
  • Vaccination and immunization records
  • Previous chest X-rays (if any)
  • Insurance information

Keep in mind that this paperwork must all be in English.

If your documents were not originally in English, you must include certified translations.

In some cases, it may be difficult to get access to your previous medical records. Fortunately, this is not usually a bar to receiving a green card.

Simply contact the examiner ahead of time to notify them of the issue.

By working with the designated physician, you can find out what vaccinations or other procedures you will need to fulfill the requirements for a green card.

Avoid Illegal Drugs

Often, Green Card medical exams involve incidental drug tests.

For this reason, you should never go to your green card medical exam with illicit drugs in your system. This includes marijuana.

Failing to do so could result in serious delays in the green card process or even complete disqualification.


portrait of a smiling young african woman dressed in summer clothes holding passport with flying tickets while standing with a suitcase isolated over yellow background

Overall, most people who go through a green card medical exam complete it without major issues.

However, it can still be a long, stressful process, especially if there is confusion with your medical history and paperwork.

Unfortunately, it is completely mandatory. You cannot qualify for a U.S. green card without a first going through a medical exam.

For this reason, you should never hesitate to contact your immigration lawyer before your medical exam.

An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the medical exam’s requirements, and the best way to fulfill them.

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