New USCIS Policy Affects Form I-639 (Medical Exam) Processing and Guidelines

October 18th, 2018 by SRW Lawyers

USCIS is making another change, this time involving the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693). The policy, going into effect on November 1, 2018, changes the validity period for the sealed medical exam results required for certain applications. This includes those applying for immigrant visas, adjustment of status, K applicants, and refugee applicants. With this policy change, there are upsides and drawbacks.

On the plus side, it reduces the need to request updated medical exams (Form I-693). Currently, once an applicant has his or his required medical exam, the results of that exam are generally valid for one year; now it’s good for two years. With increasingly long processing times, more applicants—about half or more—are having to obtain new medical exams prior to their interview, which involves seeing USCIS designated civil surgeon for an examination and potentially vaccinations.

Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. As the policy states, “Form I-693 is valid only when a civil surgeon signs it no more than 60 days before the date an applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit.” USCIS may be extending the time the exam is valid, but USCIS is giving applicants a shorter deadline regarding the signature of the civil surgeon and the date of filing the petition.

USCIS confirms that processing times are getting longer. As stated in their “Policy Alert,” reasons cited for this change are to “enhance operational efficiencies” (translation: USCIS’s current procedures are inefficient, causing the longer wait time). Since USCIS has officially increased the duration of validity to two years to “reduce the need” to request new exams, this indicates that USCIS is affirming that you may have to wait two years—or longer—for your application to be processed and adjudicated.

If you have questions about this policy change or need help preparing your application, please contact the attorneys at Serotte Reich, (716) 854-7525 or

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