USCIS: Medicals only Valid for One year

by Protima Daryanani

Effective June 1, US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, will only be valid one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Further, the medicals must be submitted to USCIS within one year of the medical examination.

By way of background, most applicants for permanent resident must submit Form I-693, as part of their adjustment of status application, in order to show that they are not inadmissible on medical grounds. In 2002, USCIS (then known as INS), based on discussions with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extended the validity of medical exams beyond the one-year threshold if USCIS took longer than one year to adjudicate the petition. This extension policy was renewed annually each year for the last twelve years. Recently, CDC has raised concerns with the USCIS policy of extending the validity of medicals and so we now have the new policy.  

As part of the new policy, USCIS will also provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. The form will no longer be required as part of the initial filing.  Instead, USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) for it or allow it to be submitted at the time of the USCIS interview (for those cases scheduled for interview). If petitioners wish to avoid the RFE, they can submit the I-693 medical with the initial filing but if the case is not adjudicated within the year, they would have to submit a second medical.

At first glance, this policy seems to create additional expense and burden for the foreign national. Why should a petitioner have to wait for an RFE to submit a medical?  What risk could possibly occur if USCIS reverted to its extension of the medical given that many of the delays are not the fault of the foreign national? Certainly USCIS should ensure that a ten-year-old medical is updated before a green card is issued but perhaps updating should be requested on a case-by-case basis.
USCIS has scheduled a call on June 12 to further explain the rationale of this decision. Stay tuned.