This past year, Canada welcomed a record-breaking 401,000 permanent residents. Ontario has taken steps to make it easier for immigrants to work in the province by easing requirements for obtaining professional licenses.
Despite these developments, newcomers have been affected by a substantial delay in the processing of immigration applications. It has been reported that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has a backlog of 1.8 million immigration applications. The federal government has acknowledged the delays and explained that the pandemic has created challenges with processing applications.
In an attempt to address these delays, IRCC announced this past June that they would temporarily provide exemptions for some immigration medical examinations. On December 24, 2021, IRCC extended these exemptions to March 31, 2022.
An immigrant medical examination is a physical examination performed by an IRCC-appointed medical doctor. All prospective immigrants to Canada must submit to this examination.
After the examination, an IRCC medical officer determines whether the applicant is medically inadmissible. An applicant may be medically inadmissible if they have a medical condition that poses a danger to public health or would place excessive demand on health services. Excessive demand on health services means:
- The cost of treating the applicant is more than the cost of caring for an average Canadian; or
- The treatment required for the applicant would interfere with services to Canadians.
Medical inadmissibility is not the only barrier to a successful immigration application. We have previously covered other admissibility issues in our blog, which you can check out here.
Given the number of permanent residents welcomed to Canada in 2021 and increased vacancies in the Canadian job market, the backlog of immigration applications remains a concern. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has stated the exemption is to help streamline applications for particularly low-risk cases.
The announced exemption only applies to those who have applied for permanent residency and are currently located in Canada. The applicant must also have completed a previous immigration medical examination within the last five years. At the previous examination, the applicant must have been found to pose no risk to public health in Canada, or, if there was a risk, the applicant reported to public health authorities for monitoring.
Finally, the applicant must not have travelled to any country or territory in the past year with a higher incidence of a serious communicable disease than Canada. It is worth noting that there are approximately 130 countries and territories on this list. In some cases, the applicant may still be eligible for the exemption if the travel was for less than six months. Therefore, if you have a pending permanent residency application, you should speak with an experienced immigration lawyer before planning any travel outside of Canada.
If you are ineligible for the exemption, you will need to complete a new immigration medical examination. Here is what you need to know about immigration medical examinations.
There are three main components for an immigration medical exam:
- Medical history questionnaire;
- Physical examination; and,
- Other tests as required.
The medical history questionnaire is when the IRCC-appointed medical doctor asks you questions about any past or current medical conditions. They will also ask you about any medications you are currently taking.
The doctor also completes the physical examination, which includes height and weight measurements and testing of your blood pressure, hearing, vision, and limb movement. They will also examine your heart and lung function, pulse, abdominal area, and skin. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be required to undergo additional tests. These may include bloodwork and x-rays. Applicants have the right to have a chaperone present during their physical examination.
The applicant is responsible for paying the doctor’s fees for the immigration medical exam and any other required tests. The IRCC-appointed doctor submits the results to the IRCC directly, and the results are usually valid for 12 months.
The immigration lawyers at Prudent Law in Mississauga continue to monitor updates from the IRCC and provide practical advice on all immigration law matters. If you have an immigration law question, you can contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers online or by phone at 905-361-9789.