When applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing, a medical exam with a designated civil surgeon is required. The medical exam determines whether an individual is inadmissible on health grounds, including for having certain communicable diseases, for not having received certain vaccinations, or for substance abuse/addiction.
While the medical exam includes blood and urine tests for other purposes, it does not normally include drug testing. However, the exam always includes drug screening, including verbal questions about substance use and a review of any medical records for substance use treatment. The physician has discretion to order drug testing based on the answers given to questions related to substance use, as well as on other observations about appearance, behavior, and so forth. Because inadmissibility requires a diagnosis of a substance-related disorder, pertaining to a substance in the Controlled Substances Act, a drug test may be needed to assess current substance use.
It is necessary to answer all questions honestly at the medical exam. Disclosing drug use does not automatically make someone inadmissible. Rather, disclosure may trigger a drug test; an individual who previously used drugs, but no longer does, will be able to demonstrate as much. A significant history of use may also prompt requirements of evidence of remission, such as completion of a program for substance abuse.
Likewise, the civil surgeon may not diagnose a substance-related disorder even with disclosure of use. Alternatively, the doctor may not be able to determine whether a diagnosis is warranted, and will instead continue to follow up with the visa applicant over the next few months to get a more complete picture of substance use.
If a drug test is taken, and the individual tests positive for a controlled substance, immigration becomes more complicated. There is no waiver for inadmissibility on the grounds of drug use. Fortunately, though, these are not permanent grounds for inadmissibility; if an individual can recover and show remission, that person will eventually be admissible. While the immigration process is delayed by a positive drug test, it is not foreclosed forever so long as treatment is completed successfully.
Each situation and every concern in immigration is unique. An experienced immigration attorney can help. Francis Law Center specializes in immigration law.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.