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.