My husband has been detained by U.S. immigration authorities. We are applying for him to get his green card. The immigration judge says that we have to get a medical examination. What does this mean? How can he go to the doctor if he is in a locked facility?
The judge is correct in telling you that your husband, as a green card applicant, needs to get a medical examination. This is an important step in applying for U.S. lawful permanent residence, because your husband must show the government that he is not inadmissible to the United States.
While it is slightly more difficult than the normal procedure, and might be more expensive, you should be able to find a doctor who is willing to go out to the detention facility and conduct the examination. There are some important steps you should follow in order to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Section 212(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1182) requires that an applicant for permanent residence or a green card not be inadmissible due to a health-related issue.
Minor medical problems won't prevent your husband from getting a green card, but more serious diseases, drug addiction, or certain types of mental or physical disorders can. To read more about this, see How Health Issues Can Make You Inadmissible to the U.S.
The procedure for getting a medical examination is roughly the same whether or not a person is detained by the immigration authorities. A USCIS-approved civil surgeon (this just means a doctor who has applied to USCIS for approval) must examine the applicant and then write down a list of medical findings on a USCIS form called an I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
When someone is in immigration detention, the challenge is getting the doctor to the detention center and making sure that the doctor is allowed to enter. Some immigration detention centers have procedures for doing medical examinations, and some ICE offices will arrange the medical examination for the detainees. So, the first thing to do is to speak to two people: the ICE officer who is in charge of your husband's case and the responsible person at the detention center.
Ask your husband for the name of the ICE officer in charge of his case. Your husband may be able to contact him, or you can call the number for the field office and ask to speak with that officer. Find the number for the field office at https://www.ice.gov/contact/field-offices.
The ICE officer will have to confirm with the detention center that your husband needs a medical examination. In some cases, the officer might be able to arrange one directly. This often depends upon the local practice of the ICE field office and that specific detention center.
However, in many places the officer will tell you to find the doctor first and then call back to set up the appointment. Once you have found the doctor, you should confirm both with the ICE officer and with the detention facility that the date and time have been approved. Otherwise, the doctor might not be allowed to perform the examination.
USCIS provides an online tool that shows all of the doctors close to you who are approved to carry out medical exams. Go to https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor and type in your zip code, and it will show you a list of results with the doctor's name, phone number, and office location.
Since you are trying to get a medical exam for your husband, you should type in the zip code of the detention center. This will show you the closest doctors. Call several doctors and ask if they are willing to go to the detention center and about their fees. USCIS doesn't set the fees that the doctors can charge, and some might charge extra for traveling somewhere to perform the medical exam.
You should also confirm that the doctor has enough appointment slots open so that he or she can perform the examination and provide the results in time (before your husband's full individual hearing).
Once you have found a doctor, confirm with the ICE officer and the detention center the date and time of the appointment. Make sure that the ICE officer and the detention facility have spoken to each other and are aware of the appointment.
Call the doctor's office after the examination and ask how long it will take to get the results. This is usually fairly quick, depending on the doctor's schedule. The doctor's office will provide you with a sealed envelope and you can ask for a separate copy for your own records.
This is very important: Do not open the sealed envelope. You must take this envelope to court and give it to the government attorney, not to the judge. The government attorney will unseal it in court and determine whether your husband has any health-related issues of inadmissibility.
This is just one step in the process of applying for a green card through a spouse. Read more about the rest in Sponsoring a Fiancé or Spouse for a Visa or Green Card, and Marriage-Based Green Cards
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