Understanding medical inadmissibility to Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: April 2, 2023

When we hear the word ‘inadmissibility’ in the scope of Canadian immigration, it is much more likely that we consider criminality than medical inadmissibility.

However, according to the most recent available data from 2019, medical inadmissibility prevents around 1,400 immigration applicants from entering Canada every year. This makes medical inadmissibility a topic worthy of increased coverage, especially because “every Canadian immigration visa applicant, and some temporary status applicants, [must] undergo a medical examination.”

Learn More about Canadian Immigration

Let’s help you understand more about medical inadmissibility in Canada.

What makes someone medically inadmissible to Canada?

Determining medical inadmissibility to Canada begins with standard medical examinations such as blood and urine tests as well as x-rays. Furthermore, Canada assesses both the prior medical records and mental state of an immigration applicant to make a final decision on whether the individual is admissible to Canada based on their health. After being assessed, if you are deemed medically inadmissible to Canada, it will be for one of three reasons.

Danger to public health

Based on things like medical exam results and health history, a determination has been made that an individual’s health condition will endanger public health.

Danger to public safety

After assessing an individual’s potential for sudden mental or physical incapacity as well as their risk of unpredictable or violent behaviour, officers have decided that they are a public safety threat due to their health.

Excessive demand for health/social services

If deemed inadmissible under this provision, it has been decided that the individual’s health condition will put a strain on health and/or social services in Canada by negatively affecting service wait times or requiring excessive spending because “the services needed to treat and manage the health condition would likely cost more than the excessive demand cost threshold.”

Note: According to the Canadian government, the 2022 excessive demand cost threshold is $24,057 per year ($120,285 over five years)

What happens after someone is deemed medically inadmissible to Canada?

Despite the above, it is important to understand that a designation of ‘medically inadmissible to Canada’ does not always mark the end of one’s journey to Canada.

For instance, individuals with the following health conditions can overcome a medical inadmissibility declaration.

Note: This list is not exhaustive, but is simply included to provide a glimpse into the subject matter

  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cardiac Disease
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Autoimmune Diseases (ex. AIDS, Lupus)
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Blood Disorders
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Liver Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Brain Disorders
  • Rare Diseases and Conditions
  • Total Knee Replacement

Additionally, people deemed medically inadmissible to Canada will have two ways to challenge this declaration.

Method 1: Procedural fairness letter

Individuals who may be classified as medically inadmissible will receive an explanation, prior to a final decision being made on their application, through a procedural fairness letter.

Receipt of this letter gives the individual in question an opportunity to respond, at which time they would be allowed to use legal advice or representation for help with providing information/evidence on their situation.

Note: Responses to a procedural fairness letter must be submitted within 90 days of receiving the letter, or the individual must contact Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through the contact information on the procedural fairness letter) before the 90 days is up to request an extension

Examples of information or evidence that one can include in their response are documents related to the health condition/medical diagnosis indicating the receipt of treatment to improve or cure the ailment as well as information about the kind and costs of medication or services required.

Method 2: Mitigation plan

In certain situations, as decided by IRCC, some individuals who have received a procedural fairness letter for excessive demand may be given the chance to submit a mitigation plan detailing how they will ensure their health does not cause excessive demand on Canada’s health or social services.

Again, a completed mitigation plan (and any additional information) must be sent off according to the contact information on the procedural fairness letter.

Getting help with handling a medically inadmissible designation

It can be hard to understand how medical inadmissibility works, especially when trying to understand this complex subject matter on your own. However, retaining an immigration lawyer can make things a lot easier. Immigration law professionals can:

  • Help prepare any necessary documents
  • Ensure that mistakes are avoided
  • Respond on an individual’s behalf to the Canadian government
  • Use their expertise to avoid unnecessary delays throughout the different steps in the medical inadmissibility process

Learn More about Canadian Immigration

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