Medical Inadmissibility

Medical Inadmissibility

The second key roadblock to Canadian visas, along with criminal inadmissibility, is medical inadmissibility.

Applicants may be denied a visa on medical grounds if:

  • The health or safety of the Canadian population at large might be endangered; or
  • The applicant might create excessive demand on government social or health services.

For family sponsorship visas, the "excessive demand" component is waived for the sponsor's spouse or partner and their dependent children. Even so, applicants may still be refused if their condition endangers public health or safety.

UPDATE (December 2017)

For years, the medical inadmissibility issue has stood as a black mark on Canada's otherwise sterling reputation. That's because the screenings are not just for highly transmissible diseases and public health threats like tuberculosis.

A key part of the legal criteria applied to the screenings is that the applicant not suffer from any condition that could place a disproportionate burden on the public purse. That's a very broad test indeed, and what counts as a disproportionate burden is just one aspect of this political football.

The screenings have been used, and as of this writing continue to be used, to reject applicants who may suffer from a range of disabilities, which in other legal contexts would be recognised as a vulnerability that warrants increased legal protection. A particularly cruel example are the many families whose emigration applications have been rejected because they have a child with Autism.

There are also plenty of examples where the economic calculus is not being applied in a legally defensible way. One recent example brought to the attention of a government subcommittee was of a company executive whose value to local industry would have been very high, but who was rejected because he was HIV+. This was irrespective of the fact that, like so many others now, his symptoms are well controlled by medication he was able to fund privately.

The Liberal Trudeau government has indicated its concern that the frankly antiquated medical screening system may no longer be compatible with modern conventions on human rights, Canada's domestic laws that have striven for inclusivity and equal rights for all, and which have stood despite the protests of Canada's domestic disabled community.

So watch this space: change may be on its way in this area.

Mandatory screenings

Barring a change in the law, medical screenings continue to be a mandatory element of the application process, and all applicants must submit screening results produced by a Canadian government approved medical examiner. Screenings are generally limited to standard physical exams, chest x-rays, and blood & urine tests, but prior medical records and the applicant's mental health are also reviewed.

When determining whether an applicant is medically inadmissible, the medical examiner must bear in mind the nature, severity, and likely duration of whatever condition the person is suffering, in addition to:

  1. Danger of contagion;
  2. Symptomatic behaviour that may endanger public safety; and
  3. Whether Canadian nationals might be deprived of social or health services as a result of foreseeably increased demands caused by admission of such applicants.

Note that the valid reasons for denial of a visa are broad and elastic, and are not limited to a set list of particular ailments or conditions. Medical screenings are considered on a case-by-case basis. This means that anecdotal evidence about other applicants with similar conditions is unlikely to be helpful in determining the likely outcome of your own circumstances.

Nonetheless, our expert emigration advisors may be able to provide some guidance if you believe these issues are germane to your case. The quickest way to get answers is to submit our short form for a free consultation.

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