Who may perform an immigration medical examination

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Only physicians authorized by IRCC may carry out immigration medical exams (IMEs).

Technical instructions that define the actions and management of the authorized physicians who perform the IMEs are located on the Panel physicians web page.

Using an alternate medical practitioner

In exceptional circumstances, an applicant may not be in a position to access a panel physician. The Migration Health Branch may temporarily authorize a non-panel physician to perform an IME (known as "dispensation") for in-Canada applicants when

  • it may be unreasonable for a client to travel to a panel physician
  • it is in line with IRCC’s responsibilities under the Official Languages Act
  • it supports linguistic minority communities

Procedures for requesting dispensation

The authority to grant dispensation rests with the Migration Health Branch. In all circumstances, the Migration Health Branch determines if the request for dispensation is reasonable in consultation with the appropriate regional medical office or migration office.

Access to official languages

In accordance with the Official Languages Act, dispensation is considered for applicants in Canada if 1 of the following applies:

  • No panel physician is able to offer services in the applicant’s preferred official language within 250 km of the applicant’s residence.
  • No panel physician is able to offer services in the applicant’s preferred official language within a 4-hour drive (one way) of the applicant’s residence.

Exceptional cases: Dispensations may be granted in exceptional cases where it would be unreasonable for the client to travel to a panel physician. For example, dispensation may be granted if the client has limited transportation options available to them or if they have a health condition that limits their ability to travel. Clients are required to provide justification as to why it would be unreasonable for them to travel to a panel physician.

How to request a dispensation

To request a dispensation, the applicant or their representative can contact the IRCC Client Support Centre with

  • the reason for their dispensation request and
  • the following information about the doctor who has agreed to perform the IME:
    • name
    • address
    • telephone number
    • fax or email address
    • initial agreement from the doctor that they will perform the exam

Requests for dispensation must be submitted directly by the applicant or their representative.

Note: Doctors who are not IRCC panel physicians do not have access to the same IT systems to submit IMEs electronically. Accordingly, the dispensation system is paper-based, so requests may take longer to process. If the applicant’s IME must be completed quickly, it may be best for the applicant to travel to the closest panel physician.

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