Our recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) processing times reports indicate that employment-based I-485 adjustment of status (“AOS”) applications are taking over a year to adjudicate. The new requirement for in-person interview for certain I-485 cases will likely add to the processing time of a case. At the same time, the required I-693 medical exams are valid for one year and normally such I-693 medical exams which may be valid at the time of filing would very likely have expired by the time the I-485 AOS application is due to be adjudicated, likely resulting in an additional request for updated I-693 medicals. This article seeks to provide guidance and best practices for submitting I-693 medical exams for employment-based I-485 filings.
Must I-693 medical exams be submitted with the initial I-485 filing?
The short answer is, NO. USCIS policy requires only that the medical exam be submitted any time prior to adjudication. According to the USCIS Policy Manual,
The medical examination report may be submitted to USCIS:
- Concurrently with the immigration benefit application; or
- At any time after filing the immigration benefit application but prior to the adjudication of that application; if not filed concurrently with the immigration benefit application, USCIS encourages applicants to wait until USCIS requests the medical examination report before submitting it. *
*Footnote 28 reads, “This includes a request to bring the medical examination report to the interview.”
What is the current best practice for including I-693 medical exams with employment I-485 filings?
As a result of the current I-485 processing times being in excess of 12 months and with the introduction of a required interview for certain employment I-485 applications, it is very likely that for the foreseeable future I-485 applications will take more than 12 months to adjudicate. At the same time, I-693 medical exams are valid for one year. This guarantees that any I-693 medical exam submitted as part of the initial I-485 filing will expire by the time the I-485 is to be adjudicated and this will result in an additional request for an updated I-693 medicals.
As a result, for many employment I-485 cases it is a good idea to consider filing the initial I-485 AOS application without including the I-693 medical exam and be ready to do so at a later time in the adjudication process.
Is it a good idea to include the I-693 medical exams with the initial I-485 filing?
Completing and including the I-693 medical exam proactively with the initial employment I-485 application may still be beneficial. For example, the I-693 medical exam process requires thorough vetting of prior medical and vaccination records. For applicants who miss certain required vaccines, getting the I-693 medical exam cleared early in the process will help ensure that any subsequent additional medical exam would be relatively easier and faster to complete.
Also, in the unlikely (but possible) for many scenario that an employment I-485 application is to be adjudicated within 12 months of filing, submitting the medical exam as part of the initial I-485 AOS filing will likely ensure faster approval.
Each application and its circumstances are different so it is impossible to formulate a single recommendation which would apply equally well to all. Our office weighs a number of factors when we consider whether to include I-693 medical exams proactively, but our general recommendation is to consider waiting until either the interview notice is received or USCIS issues an RFE before obtaining the medical exam.
Our office is happy and available to assist with I-485 questions or needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us or consider our consultation options or request I-485 filing quote. Also, please subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to ensure that you obtain this and related immigration-related news and announcements.