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If you want to immigrate to Canada or obtain a work or study permit, there is a possibility that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may ask you to complete a medical exam before you arrive.

This exam is required for most permanent residence applications and for some applications for temporary residence, including workers, students, and visitors.

In this article, we answer all the questions you have about medical exams for Canadian immigration.

June 2021 update: Canada is exempting some in-Canada immigration applicants from the medical exam. Learn more.

What is a medical exam for Canadian immigration?

A medical exam for Canadian immigration is an examination of a person’s health carried out by a panel physician who has been approved by IRCC. The examination is used to determine whether there are any medical reasons why a person should be denied immigration status in Canada.

An IRCC-approved medical exam will include a personal medical history questionnaire, a physical examination, and other possible tests as determined to be relevant by your panel physician. If your physician needs more information about your health, they may refer you to a specialist for additional testing. You are legally entitled to bring a chaperone to your appointment, if you would like.

When you go to your medical exam, be sure to bring proper identification such as a passport and/or other government-issued identification, along with information about your health (list of medications you’re taking, eyeglasses, etc.). For some Canadian immigration programs, you can do your medical exam in advance of applying, but others require you to complete the exam after you’ve applied (in these cases, IRCC will contact you and give you a deadline to complete the exam).

Why does Canada require the medical exam?

The primary purpose of the medical exam is to ensure that a person is medically admissible to Canada. If a person poses a threat to public health or safety, or if a person’s medical condition might be a drain on the Canadian health care system, then their immigration application could be denied.

What makes a person medically inadmissible to Canada?

A person can be deemed medically inadmissible for two reasons:

1. They pose a risk to public health and safety in Canada: Certain conditions, like highly contagious illnesses, can pose a risk to the health and safety of Canadian residents, so a person with such a condition could be medically inadmissible.

2. They will cause an excessive demand on the Canadian healthcare and social services systems: In Canada, health care and social services are universal and publicly funded for all citizens and permanent residents, as well as some temporary residents. Immigration applicants may be medically inadmissible if it is determined that they will be a financial burden on this free health care system or if they will negatively affect wait times for Canadians. This includes those applying through Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs.

The excessive demand threshold is calculated to be just above CAD $20,000 per year, about three times the previous threshold following a change made in 2018. If you require medical treatment that may cost more than this amount, then you may be medically inadmissible.

Notably, spouses, partners, and dependent children who are being sponsored for immigration are exempt from the excessive demand provision, as are refugees and protected persons. Additionally, many temporary residence applications do not require this exam, so certain students, workers, and visitors will not be subject to these admission criteria.

When is a medical exam required?

In most permanent resident applications, medicals only need to be done once the processing office issue a request for a medical exam. In temporary residence applications, if a medical is required, the applicant can do an ‘up front’  medical and submit proof of the medical with their application.

Who needs a medical exam to immigrate to Canada?

There are different requirements depending on if a person is applying for temporary residence (workers, students, and visitors) or for permanent residence.

Temporary Residents planning to stay six months or less: You should not require a medical exam, unless you plan to work in a specific type of job. These jobs include positions in which public health must be protected, such as jobs that bring you into close contact with people. Examples of such jobs include:

  • workers in health care settings;
  • clinical laboratory workers;
  • patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes;
  • medical students admitted to Canada to attend university;
  • medical electives and physicians on short-term locums;
  • workers in primary and secondary school settings and workers in child-care settings;
  • domestics;
  • workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled;
  • daycare employees;
  • agricultural workers from designated countries/territories. A country or a territory is designated if there is a “YES” in the column entitled “Immigration Medical Examination (IME) required” in IRCC’s designated country and territory list.

The above list is not exhaustive, and applicants with other job titles may also be asked to take a medical exam.

Additionally, agricultural workers who have visited or worked in certain countries for at least six months within the previous year also require a medical exam.

Temporary residents planning to stay six months or more: You require a medical exam if you meet one of these scenarios:

Permanent resident applicants: Usually, all permanent resident applicants are required to undergo a medical exam, including accompanying spouses, partners, and dependent children. However, a temporary policy exempting some low-risk applicants is in effect until December 28, 2021, and applies to in-Canada applicants who:

  • have submitted a new application for permanent residence or for a permanent resident visa or have a pending application for permanent residence and have not yet completed a new immigration medical exam, and
  • have completed an immigration medical exam within the last five years and were found to pose no risk to public health or safety, or complied with a requirement to report to public health authorities for monitoring, and
  • have not left Canada for more than six months in the last year to live in a country that has a higher incidence of a serious communicable disease than Canada, as outlined in the list of countries requiring an immigration medical exam.

Accompanying family members may also be eligible under this temporary exemption if they meet the criteria and are also living in Canada.

If you do not satisfy each of the above conditions, you can expect to be required to complete a medical exam.

(Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)

Certain permanent residence applicants are exempt from being deemed medically inadmissible on the grounds of excessive demand (see above).

Applicants in Canada who have previously completed a medical examination may not need to complete a new medical.

Which doctor can you go to for your IRCC medical exam?

Only an IRCC-approved panel physician can complete your exam. Your own doctor cannot complete the exam (unless your doctor is listed as a panel physician, which is unlikely). Use IRCC’s tool to find a panel physician near you.

How much does the medical exam cost for Canadian immigration?

The medical exam cost varies from country to country. Please consult with your panel physician about the costs associated with your examination.

For how long are the results of an IRCC medical exam valid?

IRCC medical exam results are valid for 12 months from the date of the exam. If your results are older than this, you will have to complete a new exam.

What happens if my medical expire?

In the event your medical expires and you are waiting for your application to be finalized, the processing office may require that you retake the medical exam. If this is the case, they will send you a new request for medical exam.

Can I do medical if I am pregnant?

Part of the medical examination is an x-ray therefore if an applicant or their spouse is pregnant, they will need to  wait until after the baby is born to complete their medical.

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About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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