Drug Test for Green Card Application Process

You must pass a medical examination when you apply for a green card within or outside of the United States. The goal of the medical exam is to ensure that your residence in the U.S. does not pose a threat to the country’s national health and safety. 

Green Card Drug Test Key Takeaways

  • The consumption of drugs and other illegal substances may be enough grounds for inadmissibility.
  • The decision to deny you a green card based on your history of substance, drug, or alcohol abuse is not always permanent. You may be able to receive a green card if you seek treatment and show proof of recovery.
  • Whether you live in or outside the United States and intend to apply for a green card, it is always advisable to avoid things that could jeopardize your petition. This includes the consumption of certain substances, even if they are legal in your current state or city. While they may be legal locally, some of these substances, such as marijuana, are still illegal federally. 
  • If the doctor has a reasonable cause to conduct a drug screening, you may need to have the test done within 48 hours. The last thing you want is to return to the clinic for further testing on short notice.
  • Get guidance from an experienced immigration attorney before scheduling the exam, if you are worried about failing the drug test.

What To Expect?

During the physical exam, the doctor will check for certain communicable diseases per the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, whether you received the required vaccinations, and substance or drug abuse.

The green card drug test is not usually conducted solely to determine whether you have a history of drug or substance abuse. Rather, the green card doctor, also known as a civil surgeon, may order drug testing if they have a good reason to believe such a test is necessary.

For example, during the green card medical exam, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) doctor will ask you questions about your history of substance and drug abuse and then conduct the drug test if necessary. Whether the civil surgeon orders the green card drug test will depend on the answers you give, appearance, behavior, etc.

If medical records show that you’ve been treated for substance use, the green card doctor may also order a drug test.

You are required to always be truthful throughout the green card process, not just during the medical exam alone. This is because lying at any point in the immigration process could lead to disqualification due to misrepresentation.

History of Substance or Drug Abuse

You should be truthful about your history even if you no longer use the drug or substance in question. If you have a history of drug abuse and no longer take the said drug or substance, you may be required to prove it. This may include medical records, certifications, or doctor’s notes.

Your history of drug or substance abuse does not automatically disqualify you from getting a green card. Instead, the USCIS wants to check whether:

  • you are still actively taking the said drugs or substances;
  • you stopped; and 
  • whether you can prove that you no longer consume nor have a dependence on the specific drugs after you stopped.

It is also worth noting that there is no waiver of admissibility on the grounds of drug abuse. This means that the USCIS will not waive this requirement if you are found to be actively consuming certain substances or drugs. However, based on these grounds, USCIS’s decision to deny your green card petition is not always permanent.

According to the Controlled Substances Act, you are inadmissible, if diagnosed with a substance-related disorder (drug abuser or drug addict). Once your drug addiction or abuse is in remission, you can apply again.

Please note, a new assessment by the green card doctor is required in order to determine whether your drug addiction or abuse can be classified as in remission. Your history of drug abuse or addiction will be disclosed on Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

You may be granted a green card after recovering from drug and substance abuse. To recover, you may need to join a drug treatment program, such as rehab, or follow other alternatives recommended by your doctor. 

If you have a history of drug and substance abuse and have not recovered, it is always advisable to consult an experienced immigration lawyer for further legal advice and guidance before submitting your petition for a green card.

What If I Test Positive for a Controlled Substance During a Medical Exam?

If you test positive for a controlled substance on a green card drug test your immigration process will be temporarily delayed, but not permanently barred as long as you successfully complete treatment.

Remember, there is no waiver for drug-related inadmissibility. However, if you are able to recover and demonstrate remission, you will eventually be admissible.

What If the Drug or Substance is Legal In My State or City?

Drug and substance abuse can also make you inadmissible even if the said drug or substance is legal in the state or city where you live. This is because some substances may be legal at the state level but not federally. For instance, while marijuana may be legal in some states, it is not legal federally.

  • Marijuana is not legal federally in the United States because it is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification means that the federal government views marijuana as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.

Since the USCIS is a federal government agency, you may have a rough time getting a green card if you are a heavy consumer of certain substances, like cannabis. This could be the case even if the said substances or drugs are legal in your current state or city.

Who Conducts the Drug Screening for the Green Card Medical Exam?

Instead of your regular physician, you’ll need to visit a physician the U.S. government has specifically authorized to perform a green card medical exam.

The process will differ slightly depending on whether you are currently in the United States.

The U.S. government does not regulate the fees doctors can charge for a green card medical exam. You should therefore check with the doctor’s office to find out the exam cost before scheduling an appointment.

Here is what you need to know if you currently live in the United States:

The medical exam must be conducted by an approved civil surgeon. The name civil surgeon does not necessarily mean that the individual is an actual surgeon.

Rather, the USCIS issues license to qualifying physicians to conduct the green card medical exams. These doctors are usually described as civil surgeons by the USCIS.

If you currently live outside the United States:

Find an approved physician to perform the medical test in your local area. The selected physician must be authorized by the U.S. Department of State to perform medical exams abroad for immigration purposes. 

The U.S. Department of State website usually has a list of approved doctors in your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 

This guide contains everything you need to know about finding an approved USCIS doctor, also known as a panel physician, in your country abroad and how to prepare for the medical exam. 

How to Prepare for the Drug Test for the Immigration Medical Exam

It is always advisable to avoid the consumption of illegal drugs before the green card medical exam. Having drugs such as marijuana or any other controlled substance listed in the Controlled Substances Act in your system could make you ineligible to receive a green card, even if it is legal in your state or country.

What to Expect During the Drug Test for Green Card?

As mentioned earlier, a medical exam is required, not only for conducting a drug test on the green card applicant. The drug test may only be necessary if the USCIS doctor deems it necessary based on your actions, medical history, answers, and/or your doctor’s judgment. 

In case the USCIS doctor deems it necessary to conduct a drug test, a blood and urine test will be conducted. The blood and urine test may be enough to reveal everything they need to know about your drug and substance abuse history. 

Green Card Drug Test FAQs

Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about the drug test for a green card.

I Have Been Using Marijuana for a While Now. Will It Show Up in My Green Card Exam?

It depends on your marijuana consumption level. In most cases, if you are a light user of marijuana, all you may need is a week or two to clean your system. Heavy users may need a month or more to clean up their systems. 

For best results, it’s a good idea to avoid anything that could make you ineligible for a green card, including the consumption of controlled drugs and substances.

As discussed, marijuana may be legal in your state or city but still illegal at the federal level. And since the federal government handles immigration issues, the consumption of marijuana and other substances may jeopardize your chances of obtaining a green card. 

When Should I Schedule My Green Card Medical Exam?

The right timing for the green card medical exam will depend on your location at the time of filing your green card application. If you are applying from within the United States, it is advisable to schedule your medical exam before the green card application process

This is because it could take between one to two weeks to process the medical exam results. Once you have obtained the results of your medical exam, you can include them in your application package, a process known as concurrent filing

Keep in mind that concurrent filing is not required; it all depends on your preferences. For example, you may decide to file each USCIS form individually, but this will take longer to process.

When filing from outside the United States, you need to schedule the medical exam only after you receive your green card interview appointment letter issued by the National Visa Center under the U.S. Department of State. 

This is because you may need to repeat the medical exam if it expires before you receive your green card interview appointment.

What Should I Bring to the Exam?

The complete list of documents you may need to bring to your medical appointment will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Generally, you may need to bring the following:

  • Your medical examination and vaccination record;
  • Certified copies of your medical records, a letter from your doctor stating any treatments you are currently receiving for certain medical conditions;
  • Your government-issued identification, such as the state I.D., driver’s license, passport, or work permit;
  • Proof of payment for the medical exam fee;
  • Medical insurance card.