How Your Health Might Prevent You From Getting A Green Card

All foreign nationals must provide medical examination results as part of their U.S. green card application package.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) may deny a foreigner’s green card application in order to prevent significant health risks and safety hazards to the American public. Nevertheless, applicants found to be inadmissible may apply for and the USCIS has the discretionary authority to grant waivers for some health-related grounds for inadmissibility.

What are the four grounds that could prevent a foreign from getting his green card application approved?  This article provides a basic overview of those four grounds:

1) Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases that can easily be spread from one person to another poses a great concern for public health safety.  Typical communicable diseases include chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, infectious leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, active tuberculosis, and infectious syphilis. Additionally, quarantinable diseases posing a significant health risk, such as Cholera, Diptheria and Yellow Fever and diseases meeting the World Health Organization’s criteria of a public health emergency of international concern are included in this category.

Green card applicants who have been infected with a communicable disease of public health significance may be eligible for a waiver but USCIS will only grant a waiver after it has consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the CDC recommends that the USCIS grant a waive subject to certain conditions or treatments.

2) Lack of Vaccinations 

Applicants are required to be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including mumps measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B, hepatitis B, and other diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

Waivers may be available for foreign nationals inadmissible due to a lack of proper vaccinations or based on sincere or moral beliefs. 

3) Physical or Mental Disorders

A physical or mental disorder creating behavior harmful to property, safety, or public welfare can make an applicant inadmissible. However, neither a physical nor a mental disorder alone is sufficient to make an applicant inadmissible. Such a disorder must be associated with harmful behavior to be grounds for inadmissibility. 

Similar to waivers for communicable diseases, this waiver is granted at the discretion of the USCIS after a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

4) Drug Abuse or Addiction

The civil surgeon or panel physician conducting the medical examination will evaluate the applicant’s history, behavior and physical appearance when determining if an applicant has a drug abuse or addiction problem.

Waivers are unavailable for applicants found to be inadmissible on the grounds of drug abuse or addiction. Nevertheless, an applicant may overcome inadmissibility based on drug abuse or addiction if the abuse or addiction is found to be in remission.

Do you have a question about you or your family member’s qualifications for a green card based on a health condition?

At the Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby, we know how important it is for you and your family get accurate information about qualifying for a green card. Our San Francisco immigration attorneys can advise you on how best to prepare your green card application and whether you may qualify for a waiver.  Call us today at 415-221-2345 for more information.

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