CR1 Visa Medical Exam Experience: What You Should Expect
Before your CR-1 visa can be approved, you will need to pass a thorough medical examination by a panel physician. This is to make sure that you do not currently have a serious infectious disease that could spread once you arrive in the United States. The medical examination can ONLY be done at the doctor/clinic/hospital authorized by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate that you will be going to for your CR-1 visa interview.
So unfortunately, the medical examination cannot be done by your own family doctor and there will probably be a fee for this service (check with the clinic).
My medical exam was in another city (Montreal) and I was required to pay a fee of $130 even though Canada has national health care.
So why does the USCIS require physicians that they choose? First, these physicians are local citizens practicing locally, and the examination they provide to visa applicants must conform to standards given by the United States Public Health Service.
In some countries, the panel physician will forward the final results of the medical examination directly to the U.S. embassy/consulate in your country. However, in other countries, such as India, the panel physician will provide the applicant with his/her medical exam results in a sealed envelope. On the sealed envelope it will read “DO NOT OPEN” and this is very important because if you do open it, it will make the entire medical results invalid.
Never open the sealed medical envelope!
You then must bring the unopened medical report to the interview. The medical exam usually takes just a an hour to complete but it can take 4-7 days for you to receive the results in the mail. Make sure that you have enough time between the medical exam date and your interview to allow for some delays.
CR-1 Visa Medical Exam Experience
Step 1: Gathering documents
You should start gathering as much information about your vaccinations as possible, and it would also be a good idea to have your medical records available before you schedule an appointment. If you have some gaps in your vaccinations, try to get them through your family doctor because it will be cheaper than to pay the panel physicians to administer the boosters.
Sometimes you may not be able to get records for your vaccinations, and in this case you can ask that the physician do an immunity test to confirm your status. In many cases you may be up-to-date in your own country but the U.S. may have different guidelines so be prepared to get some extra vaccine shots at the appointment.
Step 2: Vaccines and X-rays
It is best to get an appointment as early as possible but if you can’t that is okay. Just get there at least 20 minutes early to provide some extra time for the security check. Only bring with you what is required for the medical exam (ID, passport, appointment letter, 3 passport sized photos), this will reduce the amount of time you are getting checked in. Once you are in the clinic, you will be asked to wait until your name is called.
When your name is called, you will be asked go to a room where a nurse will look over your vaccine records and inoculate you with any vaccine that you are required to have. Next, you will be led to another room where you will be asked to wear a protective apron to have a chest x-ray done to rule out tuberculosis. If you have ever had TB, you must tell the nurse or physician because they can tell if you had it on your x-ray. Never hide any medical issues you have had in the past, especially when it comes to communicable diseases.
Required list of vaccines:
- Diphtheria toxoids
- Influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
The physician is not there to diagnose you, so even if they find something that may be of concern, unless it can be used to deny your visa you will not be told about it.
Step 3: Physical Examination
Finally, the actual physical exam is performed by the physician. You will be asked to undress and wear a gown. The doctor will then do a standard physical exam checking your head, throat, limbs and your abdomen. During the exam, you will be asked specific questions about your health. The questions that are asked will depend on what country you are applying from because some countries have higher prevalence of TB and other communicable diseases.
Common questions that may be asked at the physical exam:
- Have you ever had TB? – All applicants two years of age and older are required to have a Tuberculin skin test (TST)
- Do you have HIV/AIDS? – This will be checked with a blood test but will not stop you from being approved
- Have you ever had an abortion – Answer this honestly, this will not stop you from being approved
List of communicable diseases that need to be treated before visa approval:
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS)
- Syphilis (infectious state)
- Chancroid (STD, similar to syphilis and herpes)
- Granuloma inguinale (STD, donovanosis)
- Lymphogranuloma (STD, chlamydia)
Pregnancy and the medical exam:
If you are pregnant during the medical exam, you will still need a medical exam but certain parts of the exam may be postponed (x-ray and vaccines) until after you give birth. This will not delay your visa approval. Even if you think you are not pregnant, get a pregnancy test before the medical exam so that you do not risk damage to the fetus due to the chest x-ray exam.
The physician may ask whether you are currently pregnant, but they will not do any pregnancy test for you.
Step 4: Waiting for Results in the Mail
After the medical is over, you will need to wait for the results in the mail. The results will be in a sealed envelope that reads “Do not open” and you will need to provide this during your port of entry in the United States. Keep this document safe and secure because it may be months before you actually decide to move and you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. without it.
That’s it, pretty simple right? Don’t worry about the CR-1 visa medical exam too much, it’s standard procedure and everyone has to go through it. Now that you have completed the medical, you need to mentally prepare for your actual visa interview.