Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced that as of October 1, 2023, Express Entry applicants and their family members are no longer required to get an upfront immigration medical exam (IME) before submitting their application for permanent residence. Now, IRCC will send applicants a medical instruction letter when they reach that stage of processing the application.
What is an immigration medical exam?
An immigration medical exam provides IRCC with vital details about an applicant's health status. IME results are used to help identify important medical illnesses and conditions that may be endemic and may be a danger to Canada's public health or safety, as well as to determine if an applicant's existing illness and/or condition would cause too much demand on health or social services in Canada.
An IME is required from all applicants for permanent residence and their family members (spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and their dependent children), even if they are not accompanying the principal applicant to Canada.
Who conducts an immigration medical exam?
Only Panel Physicians approved by IRCC can conduct an immigration medical exam. Panel Physicians are specifically vetted by IRCC, who reviews all applications, conducts a specific orientation with each approved Panel Physician, and ensures they remain in good standing.
Panel Physician designations are not permanent and can change based on geographic and population needs, so it is important to consult IRCC's approved list of Panel Physicians prior to submitting an application for permanent residence.
Why is this update important?
Immigration medical exam results are only valid for 12 months from the date of exam. With permanent residence applications taking as long as five years to process, an upfront IME may expire before an application is processed and a subsequent IME may be required before the application can be approved.
An applicant may still undergo an upfront IME in advance of submitting their Express Entry permanent residence application in an effort to speed up processing times, but with processing times always fluctuating there is never a guarantee that the upfront IME will be valid at the time of approval.
How to submit your Express Entry application after the IME update
If you have never completed an IME, take the following steps when submitting your application:
- Upload a blank document in the upload field of the Express Entry Profile Builder when submitting the application.
- Wait for IRCC to send further instructions on when to undergo your IME.
How BDO can help
The Immigration team at BDO Law continues to actively follow immigration developments. If you have any questions about the impact of this update, please contact BDO Law's Immigration Services team at[email protected].