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In their evaluation of candidates for temporary and permanent residence, IRCC considers whether or not an individual is admissible, or allowed to come, to Canada. Admissibility is a complex topic that examines many different aspects of your profile and history, including your health. This is known as medical admissibility. Heather MacIntyre, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant at Canada Abroad, helps us to shed more light on the subject in this article.

You may have read that individuals with serious health conditions or illnesses may be found medically inadmissible, and not permitted to come to Canada. But what is considered a serious health condition, and how can you prove that you are admissible?

What is medical inadmissibility?

Medical inadmissibility in Canada relates to the results of an Immigration Medical Exam (IME), which is a mandatory health evaluation when you apply for permanent or certain types of temporary residence. Conducted by an IRCC panel physician, the IME assesses your overall health and medical history. 


An IME is required for all permanent residence applications. It is also required for some temporary residence applications, especially if you plan to stay for more than 6 months, work in healthcare or childcare, or have recently lived or traveled in certain countries for an extended period. You may further be required to see a specialist or provide other medical or lab tests to verify any health conditions that were identified during the IME. The result of this exam will be provided to IRCC as part of your application and used to help determine whether or not you can come to Canada.


Unsure if you need a medical exam to come to Canada? This article will guide you through the requirements.

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What can lead to medical inadmissibility?

There are three main reasons you might be found medically inadmissible to Canada:

  • Danger to public health

  • Danger to public safety

  • Excessive demand on health or social services 


For most of us, as we evaluate our general health and the various ailments and conditions we have experienced, contracted, or developed over the years, some conditions may present as concerning when reading IRCC policies. Common conditions or diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, anxiety, and other mental illnesses may all be considered serious. 

But how does IRCC view them? To best understand how your health fits into an admissibility assessment, let’s examine each category in more detail.

Danger to public health

First, a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if their health condition is likely to be a danger to public health. A “danger to public health” relates to infectious diseases such as active tuberculosis, or whether you have been in close contact with others with an infectious disease. In assessing yourself, consider if your disease can affect other people living in Canada via infection or transmission. If so, you may be inadmissible.

Danger to public safety

Second, a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if their health condition is likely to be a danger to public safety. You can evaluate your history and the advice of your doctors to understand if your condition has caused (or in the future is likely to cause) you to suddenly lose capacity of your physical or mental abilities, or lead to unpredictable or violent behaviour. You may be inadmissible if the above is true for you.

Excessive demand on health or social services

Finally, and perhaps most commonly, a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if their health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services. This is where many applicants have concerns and questions.


Reach out to one of the Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) from Canada Abroad if you have any questions or concerns about your medical admissibility.

What is considered excessive demand by IRCC?

IRCC considers “excessive demand” in terms of wait times and financial cost.
They would usually ask themselves:

  • Will the health or social services needed to treat your health condition negatively affect wait times for services in Canada?

If so, you may be inadmissible.


  • Will the medication or services needed to treat and manage your health condition likely cost more than the excessive demand cost threshold?

In 2024, IRCC sets the excessive demand threshold at $128,445 over 5 years (or $25,689 per year) in an effort to reduce the barrier for disabled immigrants. If your condition requires treatment or services that will exceed this amount, then you may be medically inadmissible. 


What medical expenses does CRA allow?

In calculating your health related costs, consider all of the below in a five year period:

  • Medication
  • Special equipment or use of facilities
  • Personal support worker, nurse, or homecare
  • Special education
  • Occupational and behavioural therapy
  • Physical or other therapies
  • Other things not covered by public or private insurance

Fortunately, the excessive demand category does include several key exemptions, meaning this policy cannot be applied in certain types of applications. 


These exemptions include refugees and their dependents, protected persons, and certain people being sponsored by their family, such as dependent children, spouses, and common-law partners.

Family members

An immigrant family in Canada

While the three above-mentioned types of medical inadmissibility can result in a refusal, there is still one more way in which health can impact your application, and that is in relation to the health of your family members. 

If you are applying to come to Canada as a permanent resident, it is required that your family members (spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children) also be examined. If any of your family members are found to be inadmissible on any grounds, including medical inadmissibility explained above, this means that you (the applicant) may also be inadmissible.

For Example

If you are the primary applicant for permanent residence under Express Entry, and your spouse has a health condition that is either:

  • a danger to public health
  • a danger to public safety
  • likely to generate treatment costs exceeding $128,445 over 5 years

IRCC may refuse your application. They may also refuse your application if your spouse is found inadmissible on other grounds such as criminality, security.


How to enhance chances to pass your medical exam with IRCC?

  • Be fully transparent. 

If you have any concerns about medical admissibility, or if you currently or previously had a serious illness, it is best to disclose this information to IRCC in your application and during your immigration medical exam to ensure transparency.
If your current or previous condition is manageable, under control, inactive, and/or can be treated using your own finances, provide proof in your application. This can include medical reports, letters from your physician, or a specialist designated by IRCC, and financial documents demonstrating your ability to purchase the required medications, equipment, facilities or services.

  • Be diligent with your research

It is also important to conduct your own research on the availability and cost of any required medication, treatment, or services in Canada, and in the city where you intend to reside. 

Ask yourself:

    • Will provincial health care or private health insurance cover these items?
    • If not, do you have the funds to cover them out of pocket? 
    • Will the journey and relocation to Canada have any impact on your health status and availability of treatment?

Use your research to prepare a plan for managing your health in Canada, and include this in your application.

What happens if you fail a medical exam to come to Canada?

If IRCC believes you may be medically inadmissible, they are required to provide you with an explanation letter, and you will have an opportunity to respond to their concerns before they make their final decision. To give yourself the best chance for approval, and avoid delays, it is recommended that you provide all available information in your application.


In conclusion, navigating the complexities of medical admissibility for Canadian immigration requires a thorough understanding of IRCC policies and procedures. By being proactive about your health, transparent in your application, and prepared for the Immigration Medical Exam, you can effectively address any concerns related to medical inadmissibility. Remember, the key is to provide comprehensive health information and to consult with licensed immigration professionals if you have specific concerns. With careful preparation and understanding, you can enhance your chances of a successful application and take an important step toward your goal of coming to Canada.



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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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