If you want to gain permanent status to live and work in the United States, you need to apply for a green card. Part of the green card application process involves a medical test. This test screens for medical conditions that make applicants inadmissible to the U.S.

Who performs a green card medical examination?

Only a qualified immigration doctor designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can perform the green card medical exam.

If you apply for a green card in the United States, a physician (known as a civil surgeon) is responsible for the exam. A panel physician will examine those applying outside the U.S. at an embassy or consulate.

Why do I need a medical examination?

Medical examinations and vaccinations are usually required for anyone who files for a green card. The purpose of the medical exam is to determine if you have a medical condition that makes you inadmissible for a green card. Four categories of health conditions could result in the denial of your application, including:1

  • A communicable disease of public health significance
  • Lack of vaccinations
  • A physical or mental disorder associated with harmful behavior
  • Drug abuse or addiction

What can I expect during a green card medical exam?

During the green card medical exam, the immigration doctor will review your medical history and vaccination records and ask questions about your overall health. They will also physically examine your eyes, ears, nose, throat, lymph nodes, skin, and extremities. The doctor will also examine your heart, lungs, and abdomen.2

For applicants aged 18 up to 45, the immigration doctor will request a blood test to check for syphilis.3 Those under 18 or 45 or older are only tested if there is a reason to suspect an infection. Applicants might also have to get a chest X-ray to test for tuberculosis.

How can I prepare for the medical exam?

To prepare for your medical exam, start looking for an immigration doctor. You can do an internet search for “immigration doctor near me,” or you can use a civil surgeon locator tool.

Then, begin to collect your medical and vaccination records. If you’ve had any previous chest X-rays, you should also plan to bring these to your appointment.

The bottom line

If you want a chance to live and work in the United States permanently, you will need to get an immigration medical exam. Passing your medical exam proves that you have no medical conditions that would make you inadmissible to the U.S. and brings you one step closer to a green card.


  1. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Inadmissibility and Waivers. Accessed April 28, 2023.
  2. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Medical history and physical examination. Accessed April 28, 2023.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Syphilis. Accessed April 28, 2023.

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