The Green Card Medical Examination: What To Expect When It's Your Turn

You can't get a United States "green card" (which grants lawful permanent residence status) without going through an immigration medical examination. While it's an important part of the immigration process for green card applicants, the exam doesn't have to be a significant source of anxiety if you know what to expect.

Here's what you should know about the process:

1. You need to find an authorized physician.

You cannot simply go to your regular doctor for this exam. If you're not yet in the United States, your immigration medical exam has to be performed by an authorized panel physician. You can contact the nearest U.S. embassy's office and ask for a list of authorized physicians. Within the United States, your exam must be performed by a civil surgeon. You can locate one through the USCIS Contact Center.

2. You need to take the right documentation with you.

There is no part of the immigration process that isn't paperwork-heavy, and that includes this doctor's visit. You need to take certain pieces of documentation with you to the visit, including:

  • Your immigration records
  • Your valid passport or some other form of government-issued identification with a photo
  • If you are in the United States already, a copy of Form I-693, which is the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • A list of all medications that you take and the names of any condition for which you are being treated

You will also need to bring along the fee for the examination, which varies depending on the physician. It's also wise to touch base with the physician's office prior to your visit to make sure that there's no other documentation that you're required to bring. It may also be important to bring along a translator for your visit. 

3. You can expect a very specific process.

The exam you receive generally won't differ much from the kind of exam your regular doctor has probably performed during a "well visit" or annual checkup. Your vital statistics (blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels) will be measured. The doctor will administer a basic exam and look at your eyes, ears, nose, throat, and abdomen.

Then the doctor will go over your medications, medical conditions, and vaccination records. You'll be told if there are any vaccines that you still need to have. You will also have to undergo a TB skin test. If the test is positive, don't panic -- false positives are common. You'll be required to undergo a chest x-ray to be sure. 

Once you've been cleared by the doctor, your exam results will be valid for a year and can be used for your green card application.