When applying for a green card, part of the application process includes an immigration medical examination. This is a mental and physical health assessment conducted by an immigration doctor. The purpose is to identify conditions that might prevent admission into the United States.

What is an immigration doctor?

An immigration doctor is responsible for performing medical examinations for immigration applicants in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) designate eligible physicians to become immigration doctors, also known as civil surgeons.

What does an immigration doctor do?

The main role of civil surgeons is to assess whether noncitizens have any of the following medical conditions that could prevent them from being admitted into the United States. These conditions include1:

  • A communicable disease of public health significance
  • Failure to show proof of vaccinations
  • Physical or mental disorders associated with harmful behavior
  • Drug abuse or addiction

To determine if an applicant is healthy enough to enter the United States, an immigration doctor is responsible for the following:

  • Completing a medical examination that includes a mental and physical exam as well as a blood test
  • Making referrals for follow-up treatments
  • Informing the USCIS of any changes to their contact information within 15 days

A civil surgeon is also responsible for filing out the results of the immigration medical exam on the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693). The applicant submits this form as part of the application process.

While civil surgeons have many duties, deciding if an applicant is ultimately eligible for a green card is not their responsibility. The medical immigration examination is just one piece of the application process. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the final say in whether an applicant qualifies for a green card.

Who is qualified to be an immigration doctor?

To qualify as an immigration doctor, physicians must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)
  • Licensed to practice medicine without restrictions in the state they plan to perform the immigration medical exams.
  • Have four years of professional experience

Who is not qualified to be an immigration doctor?

According to the USCIS, the following medical professionals are not qualified to be designated as civil surgeons:

  • Registered nurse
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Medical technicians
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Chiropractors
  • Podiatrists

Where can I find an immigration doctor?

You can easily find an immigration doctor near you and schedule your exam online. Just don’t forget to gather your past medical and vaccination records so you are all prepared for your exam.


  1. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Chapter 1 – Purpose and Background. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Civil Surgeons. Accessed April 23, 2023.

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