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USCIS Medical Exams and “60-Day” Rule

By February 16, 2022No Comments

by Shriom Arza

On December 9, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed a crucial condition for obtaining permanent residency or a green card in the United States.  The government issued a policy notice temporarily removing a stumbling block in the mandatory — and much dreaded — medical and immunization screening for immigration applications, which ensures that the applicant has no health concerns that would render them ineligible to the United States.

Anyone applying to visit or live in the United States must show that they do not present a health risk to the general public. This requirement is commonly known as “health-related” grounds of inadmissibility. At the examination, your medical record, vaccines, chest X-rays, and laboratory results will most likely be reviewed, as well as the physical examination. You must have a physical examination by a physician certified by the Department of State if you are applying to enter and reside permanently in the United States from outside the country. If you are already a resident of the United States and wish to apply for permanent residency (adjustment of status), you must first undergo a physical examination by a physician recognized by USCIS (USCIS). For immigration purposes, the physician will produce a report outlining his or her medical findings.

Several diseases that can cause one to be quarantined are cholera, plague, smallpox, and yellow fever. Leprosy, Tuberculosis, and any new or pandemic flu, are on the list of diseases that may make you ineligible. It also covers any illnesses that the World Health Organization has designated as a public health emergency of worldwide concern (WHO) such as COVID-19, but HIV was removed as a condition that could turn you away. You may be ineligible if you have a medical or mental illness that causes you to behave in a way that is hazardous to property, safety, or public welfare. You may be ineligible even if you no longer have a dangerous disorder if the disorder is likely to recur. Even if you have no past diagnosis or record of any problems, a history of criminal offenses involving alcohol or drugs, such as assaults and domestic violence, may result in a referral for a mental evaluation and, eventually, inadmissibility. A history of alcohol-related crimes, as well as any other signs of alcohol misuse, such as driving while intoxicated, may prompt a physician’s referral to assess whether you have an alcohol-related mental or physical disorder that is causing dangerous behavior. A history of drug abuse or addiction will bar you from entering the U.S. on health grounds. The influenza vaccination will only be necessary if you want to visit the United States during flu season, which runs from October through March each year.

Bring your vaccination records to your immigration medical examination, so that you can avoid having to receive and pay for vaccines a second time by showing the doctor documentation of your previous immunizations. The immunizations that are appropriate for your age will be determined by your doctor. Vaccinations are not necessary for internationally adopted children under the age of 10 before entering the United States. They will, however, be needed to complete their vaccines within 30 days of their arrival. Vaccinations that are incompatible with your documented religious convictions may be waived. Pregnancy can lead to a woman’s application for a B-2 guest visa being denied, even if it isn’t an unambiguous basis of inadmissibility. This is due to a 2020 revision to US State Department (DOS) laws aimed at curbing “birth tourism,” or the practice of bringing one’s child to the US to give birth so that the child will immediately receive US citizenship. According to the new regulation, a noncitizen that gives birth while her tourist visa is active is believed to be visiting the United States intending to acquire citizenship for the child.

All legal immigrants applying for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (commonly known as getting a green card) must undergo a medical examination by a government-certified “civil surgeon.” A “civil surgeon” is a physician whose Form I-693 is used to submit the results to USCIS. During the Trump administration, the agency implemented a regulation stating that Form I-693 is only legitimate if it is signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days before the petitioner files the underlying immigration benefit application. The “60-Day-Rule,” as it is known, has put a strain on immigrants during the COVID-19 epidemic due to recurrent processing delays, according to immigration groups. The “60-Day-Rule” will be temporarily lifted until September 30, 2022, according to the policy advisory. “USCIS has encountered delays in all facets of operations as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and related processing delays. Applicants have also faced challenges beyond their control, including as delays in completing the immigration medical examination,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS appoints civil surgeons to perform immigration medical examinations and record the results on Form I-693, which is valid for two years after the civil surgeon signs it, as long as the date of signing is within 60 days prior to applying for an immigration benefit like a green card. However, because the Coronavirus has created processing delays, Form I-693 is frequently no longer acceptable when it comes time to adjudicate an immigration benefit. As a result, candidates are required to get an updated medical report. The new temporary waiver allows “applicants to submit their underlying application for an immigration benefit with a completed Form I-693, even if the civil surgeon signed more than 60 days prior,” USCIS said in a news release.  The temporary change “will allow individuals to complete the application process without the need to undergo another immigration medical examination if Form I-693 is otherwise valid,” the news release stated. The temporary waiver will benefit many applicants, including Afghan nationals evacuated under Operation Allies Welcome who have completed immigration medical examinations at government-run facilities but were not able to apply for adjustment of status within 60 days of the completed examination.