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CANADA: Medical inadmissibility

Foreign nationals are usually inadmissible to Canada for having criminal records (including convictions for driving while intoxicated). Many, however, do not know that foreign nationals can also be inadmissible to Canada on health grounds if they are "likely to be a danger to public health or public safety" (very rare) or "might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services."

Approximately 280,000 foreign nationals became Canadian permanent residents in 2010, each of whom was required to undergo a Canadian immigration medical examination before becoming a Canadian permanent resident. About 96,000 foreign students came to Canada and 182,000 foreign workers entered Canada in 2010, many of whom were required to have a medical examination.

Given that Canada has a socialized system of medicine where the provincial governments pay most medical costs, medical inadmissibility can be a real concern for those with health issues who want to immigrate to Canada.

In total, approximately 450,000 Canadian medical examinations are performed each year on foreign nationals. Of those medical examinations, less than one percent of the foreign nationals (and their family members) were held to be inadmissible on health grounds for a health condition that "might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services."

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the personal circumstances of each foreign national seeking to immigrate to Canada should be considered by the Canadian visa office and an individualized assessment undertaken when deciding whether there is likely to be excessive demand on social services.

As the case law is evolving in this area, great care must be taken by foreign nationals interested in coming to Canada who suffer from significant medical problems.

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