Medical Visa: Coming to America for Healthcare ReasonsJanet Rangi
Many people with medical issues prefer to come to America. This is because America has some of the best healthcare facilities anywhere in the world. In order to be able to access healthcare treatment in the United States, you need to have a visitors visa.
The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Visiting a U.S. physician to receive medical treatment may not seem like a typical activity of a “tourist for pleasure,” but if you want to travel to the U.S. for medical reasons you must apply for a B-2 tourist visa at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. To do this, you will need to show that this treatment is medically necessary and unavailable in your home country, as well as prove that that you can afford to pay the often extremely high costs of U.S. healthcare.This article will help shed the light on how to qualify for a B-2 visa for U.S. medical treatment and how to demonstrate your pressing need for health services in the United States.
Documents Required to get the B2-Medical Visa
When you visit the U.S. consulate to request the visa, you will have only a short time in which to convince the consular officer that you deserve it, and are not just seeking a way into the U.S. to stay permanently.
In order to qualify for a B-2 visa for the purposes of treatment by a U.S. physician, you will need to show U.S. immigration authorities that you plan to make a brief and temporary visit to the U.S. for the desired medical attention that is unavailable in your home country.
You will need to provide evidence that:
• You are solely traveling to the United States for medical treatment.
• Through a letter from the physician providing treatment to you stating that you will stay in the United States for a specified period temporarily. The letter from your local physician (with a letterhead) should be able to demonstrate the following;
• The nature of your illness or ailment
• The diagnosis and your recommended treatment
• The reason why this treatment is unavailable in your home country (for example, the poor quality of hospitals and medical equipment or unavailability of health services related to your condition)
• And the doctor’s recommendation that you seek U.S. medical care.
• Show proof of permanent residence outside the United States, with proof of intention to return as well as other binding ties (such as family and a permanent job).
• Have a valid, unexpired passport enabling to you to return to your home country at the end of your visit
• Have the financial means to pay for your travel and personal expenses during your U.S. stay
• Have the financial means to pay for the costs of your medical treatment.
• You must also provide a letter from a healthcare professional in the U.S. who is willing to treat you.
That’s why having written documentation to support your request is crucial.
What You Need to Do Before go to the US Consulate for a Visa
Before applying for the B-2 visa, do your research and contact a variety of medical professionals who can treat your condition to get an idea how long you will need to be in the U.S. and how much you may be expected to pay for the treatment and any related costs such as tests, doctors’ fees, hospitalization, and prescription medication.
Once you have decided on a doctor who can best serve your needs, obtain a letter from the U.S. physician or medical facility outlining:
• The doctor’s willingness to accept you as a patient based on the information received from your local physician.
• A detailed treatment plan for your medical condition
• How long you will need to stay in the U.S. to complete your medical treatment, and
• The estimated cost of all medical procedures, including fees for inpatient and outpatient care.
You Must Show That You Can Pay for Your Treatment
The price of U.S. medical services can come as a shock to visitors who are accustomed to government-subsidized care in their home countries. You will need to show U.S. government officials that you have adequate financial resources to pay for the medical treatment that you need. You will not be able to rely on any U.S. welfare or public assistance, because the law says that people who are likely to become a “public charge” will not be eligible for a B-2 visa.
Therefore, be ready to provide bank statements or other records showing the amount of cash that you have immediately available to pay your medical costs, as well as for your expenses during your stay in the U.S. (such as housing, food, and transportation).
If you do not have enough income to show this, you can have a U.S. relative or friend agree to sponsor you using Form I-134, Affidavit of Support. This person will need provide information about his or her employment, income, bank accounts, and other personal property to show that he or she has enough resources to cover your expenses during your trip to the United States. Be aware that Form I-134 is intended as a contract between the person signing the form and the U.S. government.
But providing Form I-134 to show sponsorship of your trip is not a guarantee that the U.S. official will approve your visa application, especially if the costs of your medical treatment are very high. Your chances are highest if the person guaranteeing to pay for your costs is a close relative such as a parent, spouse, or child.
You May Be Examined by a Physician at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
Although medical exams by U.S.-authorized doctors are mainly required of people who wish to immigrate to the U.S. permanently, you may be required by the local U.S. embassy or consulate to have such a medical examination in order to receive a B-2 tourist visa for medical treatment.
The purpose of this exam is to determine whether or not treatment for your disease or ailment is available in your home country. You will also be screened for any communicable diseases that would make your inadmissible to the United States.
You May Be Inadmissible for Certain Health-Related Grounds
People with certain contagious diseases are considered “inadmissible” to the U.S. and may not be able to obtain a B-2 visa for medical treatment. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a list of those diseases that it considers to be of “public health significance” for the purposes of immigration. These communicable diseases include sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea and bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy. Also included are contagious diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, smallpox, and yellow fever.
In 2010, the CDC removed HIV from the list of diseases that rendered travelers inadmissible to the United States.
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