Medical examination for a visa or immigration to Canada

Medical examination in Canada for visa or immigration purposes

Norvin, a citizen of Nicaragua, is in the process of immigration to Canada. He has recently received a letter from IRCC to do his medical examination. Norvin wonders how to do the medical examination and the consequences. Furthermore, he wants to know who may conduct such examinations.

Why are medical examinations necessary?

Canada welcomes thousands of immigrants and temporary residents. However, these people must not endanger the health and safety of Canadians. Our country enjoys a Universal Healthcare system that offers accessible and affordable healthcare services to residents. The immigration authorities do not want to allow newcomers to jeopardize this system by putting too much pressure on it. Therefore, foreign nationals destined for Canada must undergo medical examinations. The measures based on the outcome help protect the current residents’ health and safety and avoid extra stress on Universal Healthcare. For example, authorities may make some individuals inadmissible to Canada on medical grounds.

Who needs to do medical examinations?

Paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Immigration Act (IRPA) mandates foreign nationals to do medical examinations. However, it leaves the details to the Regulations (IRPR). Under paragraph 30(1)(a) of IRPR, the following people must go through medical examinations:

Sometimes an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person is inadmissible to Canada because of medical issues. In such circumstances, the officer may ask a person to do medical examinations despite not being on the above list. Sometimes, subsequent medical examinations are also necessary. For example, if the Minister designates a region and the foreign national visits that region for more than six months.

Who is exempt?

You could rightfully conclude not being on the previous section’s list makes you exempt from medical examination. Moreover, the following people are exempt:

  • Most diplomats and foreign government representatives
  • The family members of those diplomats, unless they decide to seek employment in Canada
  • Most visiting armed forces under agreements signed by Canada and another country
  • A family member of a protected person if they are not in the PR application by that person
  • A non-accompanying family member of a foreign national who has applied for refugee protection outside Canada [practitioners see R30(1)(b)-(g)]

The Minister may issue public policies to exempt certain people from medical examinations. Click here for an example.

The process of medical examinations

You usually receive an Immigration Medical Examination (IME) letter to do medical examinations. Certain applicants may do an Upfront Medical Examination without an IME letter. Regardless, you must visit a Panel Physician (i.e., an IRCC-approved medical doctor) for this purpose (rare exceptions exist). The physician runs the following tests (practitioners see R29):

(a) physical examination;

(b) mental examination;

(c) review of past medical history;

(d) laboratory test;

(e) diagnostic test; and

(f) medical assessment of records respecting the applicant.

Depending on your health conditions, the physician may refer you to a specialist for further investigation. They eventually generate a report and share it with IRCC via a secure online portal. Furthermore, a Medical Officer reviews the information. They then advise the Immigration Officer if they suspect you are inadmissible to Canada on medical grounds. You will receive a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL) upon such suspicions. Of course, if you pass this stage, you won’t be inadmissible on health grounds.

How to locate a panel physician

Panel physicians operate in most countries in the world. When you receive an IME letter, you may refer to any of them for medical examinations. Consequently, if you are outside your home country, don’t panic. If you have all your documents with you, you could even do medical examinations in the country where you are currently residing. However, ensure you can present all medical records the physician requires (e.g., your surgery history and list of medications). To locate a panel physician, click here.

We could help!

I am not a panel physician and cannot run medical examinations. However, if you are facing a PFL for medical inadmissibility or other visa and immigration issues, I could help. Please fill out the following form, and we will contact you. Alternatively, you could book a consultation session with me. We also offer a set of assessment forms, but we only contact you if we find an opportunity for you.

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    Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.