What is the process for TB screening?
Part of the medical screening process for all immigrant visa applicants is the chest X-ray examination requirement. A chest X-ray is not required for children below 15 years old, unless symptoms of tuberculosis (TB) exist, there is a history of TB, or there has been possible exposure to TB with a known case such as a family or household member with TB.
Please note that for pregnant women, since the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) has determined that chest X-rays are not harmful if taken with the proper shielding, St. Luke’s has been authorized to perform chest X-ray examinations on pregnant women in connection with their visa applications.
In certain cases, based upon the X-ray exam, abnormality consistent with pulmonary tuberculosis is observed. In these instances applicants are required to have follow up 3-day sputum specimens for AFB smears and MTB cultures for TB, the results of which will be available after 2 months.
If I am undergoing a sputum smear exam, can I still come in for my interview at the Embassy?
In the interest of public safety, visa appointments of applicants who are required to complete a sputum smear exam at St. Luke’s are scheduled at a later date when the results of the sputum smear and culture are available. The applicant need not contact the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit to request rescheduling of the visa appointment. As soon as the sputum test and culture have been completed and our panel physicians have cleared the applicant for travel, St. Luke’s will advise the applicant regarding the interview scheduling.
We understand that the additional medical examinations for TB cause delays in the processing of an immigrant visa case. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is mandated by law to prevent the transmission and reduce the risk of spread of tuberculosis in the United States. As such, the strict medical screening of tuberculosis among our immigrant visa applicants is an essential component of the medical evaluation. This is a public health issue for which a Consular Officer has no discretion.