USCIS has announced a change in their policy regarding the validity period of a Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, when filed in support of a Form I-485 Adjustment of Status Application. Effective June 1, 2014, the I-693 medical report will be valid for one year from the date of submission to USCIS. This is in addition to the requirement that the I-485 applicant must submit the I-693 medical exam within one year of the actual medical exam date.
Background and Reasons for the Change of Policy
Before 2002, USCIS considered a Form I-693 medical exam valid as long as it was filed within one year of the civil surgeon’s signature. Since 2002, USCIS has kept this practice and has continuously extended the validity of the civil surgeon’s endorsement on the I-693 medical exam. As a result, timely-filed Form I-693 medical exam documents were automatically considered extended and “current” by USCIS.
After consultations with the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), USCIS has decided to change the policy regarding the validity of I-693 medical exams and to effectively discontinue the automatic validity extension policy. While we do not know the specific reasons for the policy change and any concerns raised by CDC, a possible reason may be the fact that under the prior automatic extension policy, there may have been applicants who have been waiting for I-485 adjudication for 3, 5, 7 or even more years and for those applicants the I-693 medical exam report on file simply does not provide an accurate picture of their health (and any health risks they may pose).
Policy Change Related to Increased Number of I-485 Requests for Evidence
This policy change is directly related to the increased number of recent requests for evidence (RFEs) on pending I-485 applications, especially for cases where the priority date is expected to be current over the next months. As we reported in our recent article, our office sees an increased number of RFEs which specifically request renewed I-693 medical exam report to be submitted back to USCIS. It seems that USCIS is using the need of a new I-693 medical exam report to also request additional items in their RFEs, such as employment verification documents.
It is helpful to see that USCIS has formulated a policy and a formal explanation to the medical exam validity period. This policy change helps explain the wave of recent (and upcoming) RFEs. We recommend that I-485 applicants who have had their I-485 pending for more than year to be prepared to respond to an RFE for medical exams, among other related items. This includes updating their mailing address with USCIS and ensuring that their attorney of record information on the I-485 is current.