If you’re applying for a green card (adjustment of status), an immigration doctor will perform a medical immigration examination. Immigration doctors, also known as civil surgeons, are physicians designated by the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) to perform medical exams. The immigration exam is required as part of the green card application process, and an immigration doctor is the only physician allowed to conduct the exam.

What is a medical immigration examination?

A medical immigration exam consists of the following:

  • Mental health exam
  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests and chest X-rays

The purpose of an immigration medical examination is to help determine who is healthy enough to enter the United States.

What is required to become an immigration doctor?

In most cases, physicians can apply to become civil surgeons. However, some circumstances exist when the USCIS designates individual or specific classes of physicians as civil surgeons. This is known as the limited blanket designation. For instance, military physicians and physicians in local health departments fall under this designation.

If you get an immigration medical exam within the United States, a civil surgeon will perform your exam. Civil surgeons are licensed physicians with at least four years of professional experience.

Alternatively, if you are outside the U.S. and require an immigration exam, you will see a panel physician at a U.S. consulate or Embassy. Panel physicians differ from civil surgeons and are designated by the Department of State.

What does an immigration doctor do?

An immigration doctor is responsible for conducting the immigration medical examination in addition to other tasks. The medical examination includes:1

  • Review of medical history. Past hospitalizations, institutionalizations for physical or mental chronic diseases, vaccination records, questions about drug and alcohol use, and past chest x-rays.
  • Physical examination. Mental status examination to assess intelligence, thoughts, comprehension, judgment, mood, and behavior. As well as an examination of the ears, eyes, nose, throat, extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, and skin. Also, diagnostic tests to identify communicable diseases of public health significance.

The civil surgeon is also responsible for completing the medical report form (I-693) that is part of the application process for a green card. Suppose their patient requires further evaluation or treatment for an issue that is not relevant to the medical exam. In that case, the civil surgeon will inform the patient and recommend the appropriate treatment.

On the other hand, civil surgeons are not responsible for deciding if an applicant is eligible for a green card. This is determined by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security officer after reviewing all of the applicants’ records, including the medical exam.2

Where can I find an immigration doctor?

If you are planning to apply for a green card or are already applying, you will first need to find an immigration doctor near you. Remember to collect all your medical and vaccination histories so they are ready to share when you go to your exam.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Medical History and Examination. Accessed April 26, 2023.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Civil Surgeons. Accessed April 26. 2023.

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