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Technical Instructions for Physical or Mental Disorders with Associated Harmful Behaviors and Substance-related Disorders for Panel Physicians

Preface

Medical screening for physical and mental disorders with associated harmful behaviors and substance-related disorders among persons overseas applying for U.S. immigration status and non-immigrants who are required by law to have an overseas medical examination, hereafter referred to as applicants, is an essential component of the immigration-related medical evaluation. Because these conditions are challenging to diagnose and treat, these technical instructions provide a method for recording findings from the medical examination and additional guidance for the panel physician in classifying applicants. The new technical instructions use uniform criteria and diagnosis consistent with current medical knowledge and classification connected with legal definitions.

  • The required examination includes evaluation of physical and mental disorders with associated harmful behaviors and substance-related disorders. Inadmissibility based on a physical or mental disorder is limited to applicants with associated harmful behavior or potentially harmful behavior.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides three grounds of inadmissibility related to substance addiction or abuse, or physical or mental disorders that affect behavior. They are -

  • Current physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior.
  • Past physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior if the harmful behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior in the future.
  • Drug (substance) abuse or addiction (medically called dependence). Dependence on or abuse of any of the substances listed in Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (Appendix C). (The term addiction corresponds with the medical term dependence).

The instructions in this document supersede all previous Technical Instructions, Updates to the Technical Instructions, memoranda and letters to panel physicians, and memoranda and letters to international refugee resettlement organizations relating to substance abuse or addiction and mental or physical disorders with associated harmful behavior (whether past or present). These new instructions are to be followed when determining whether an individual is afflicted with physical and mental disorders with associated harmful behaviors and substance-related disorders among all applicants.

For any questions about these Technical Instructions, please contact the Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Health Branch of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at cdcQAP@cdc.gov or 404-498-1600. These Technical Instructions and other information pertinent to them and the medical examination for applicants for U.S. immigration can be found online at http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/ti/panel/technical-instructions-panel-physicians.html.

Role of the Panel Physician

As part of the medical evaluation and physical examination of the applicant, the panel physician will carry out or obtain a mental health evaluation -

  • To identify and diagnose any physical or mental disorder, including alcohol-related disorders.
  • To identify any harmful behavior associated with a disorder.
  • To identify the use of drugs, other than those required for medical reasons, and diagnose any substance-related disorder.
  • To determine the remission status of any disorder previously diagnosed.
  • To determine the likelihood of recurrence of harmful behaviors associated with a physical or mental disorder.

For most applicants, the panel physician’s examination will require only one appointment. However, for some applicants multiple appointments or specialist consultations may be required to make an accurate diagnosis of whether the applicant is afflicted with a Class A or Class B condition as it relates to physical or mental disorders with associated harmful behavior or substance abuse and addiction (dependence).

Key Concepts

Physical Disorder

A physical disorder is a clinically diagnosed medical condition, where the focus of attention is physical manifestations. Only physical conditions that are included in the current version of the World Health Organization’s Manual of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will be considered for the purpose of this examination.

Mental Disorder

Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof). The current version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is an authoritative source on the classification of mental disorders and should be considered for the purpose of this examination.

"V" Coded Condition

“V” coded conditions listed in the DSM are not diagnoses, but are used in clinical practice settings when the focus of clinical attention is on a behavior that is not due to a mental disorder. Because these “V” conditions are not mental disorders, they cannot be used in determining if a person has an inadmissible (Class A) health-related condition, regardless of whether there is an associated harmful behavior. However, behaviors associated with “V” coded conditions might require treatment.

Harmful Behavior

The panel physician is to identify any harmful behavior that is associated with an applicant’s physical or mental disorder.

Only harmful behavior that is associated with a physical or mental disorder is relevant for the classification of U.S. medical eligibility; neither harmful behavior nor the physical or mental disorder by itself makes an applicant medically inadmissible. People can have multiple harmful behaviors that are not associated with a physical or mental disorder. Repetitive antisocial activities and harmful acts may warrant evaluation for personality disorders according to DSM criteria, and eventually provide a basis for the conclusion of inadmissibility. Because of the complexity of this issue, the panel physician might feel that a more specialized psychiatric examination is indicated. (Table 4)

Substance-Related Disorders

To establish any substance-related disorder diagnosis, the examining physician must document the pattern of use and behavioral, physical, and psychological effects associated with the use or cessation of use of that substance. Diagnoses of substance-related disorders are to be made in accordance with existing medical standards as determined by the current edition of the DSM. In the current DSM, substance-related disorders are divided into the following two groups:

  1. Substance use disorders
  2. Substance-induced disorders

For purposes of this evaluation, substances are divided into two groups, controlled substances and non-controlled substances. Controlled substances are any substance listed in Schedules I through V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act. (See Appendix C.) Non-controlled substances include alcohol and all other substances.

Substances used for clinical care in medical practice are not prohibited. Prescription drugs taken in accordance with a prescription do not amount to a substance use disorder. However, abuse of prescription drugs could be a substance-related disorder. This requires a full evaluation by the examining physician to determine whether illicit drugs are being used, because use of illicit drugs is a risk factor for the misuse of prescribed, controlled substances.

Substance Use Disorders

The essential feature of a substance use disorder is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems.

The DSM criteria for substance use disorders fit within overall groupings of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria. Pharmacological criteria include tolerance and withdrawal.

Drug (substance) abuse or addiction (medically called dependence) is listed as a medical ground of inadmissibility by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). An applicant will be barred from admission if he or she

  • Uses a controlled substance
    AND
  • Meets DSM criteria for a substance use disorder.

The DSM uses the following criteria to determine the severity of a substance use disorder:

  • The presence of 2-3 symptoms (this suggests a mild substance use disorder)
  • The presence of 4-5 symptoms (this suggests a moderate substance use disorder)
  • The presence of 6 or more symptoms (this suggests a severe substance use disorder)

If an applicant’s substance use meets criteria for either a mild, moderate, or severe substance use disorder, and involves a controlled substance, the applicant is considered Class A for drug abuse/addiction.

If an applicant’s substance use meets the criteria for either a mild, moderate, or severe substance use disorder but involves a non-controlled substance, the panel physician should determine whether harmful behavior is present or if there is a history of harmful behavior that is judged likely to recur. If harmful behavior is present or is judged likely to recur, then the applicant is considered Class A for a physical or mental disorder. If the applicant does not currently have harmful behavior or does not have a history of harmful behavior judged likely to recur, the applicant is considered Class B for a physical or mental disorder.

Substance-Induced Disorders

In addition to substance use disorders, the DSM has a separate category called substance-induced disorders. The DSM list of substance-induced disorders includes but is not limited to intoxication, withdrawal, and other substance/medication-induced mental disorders (psychotic disorders, bipolar and related disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunctions, delirium, and neurocognitive disorders/substance-induced psychotic disorder, and substance-induced depressive disorder).

If an applicant’s substance use meets the DSM criteria for a substance-induced disorder, and involves the use of a controlled substance, the applicant is considered Class A for drug abuse/addiction.

If an applicant’s substance use meets the criteria for a substance-induced disorder but involves a non-controlled substance, the panel physician should determine whether harmful behavior is present or if there is a history of harmful behavior that is judged likely to recur. If harmful behavior is present or is judged likely to recur, then the applicant is considered Class A for a physical or mental disorder. If the applicant does not currently have harmful behavior or a history of harmful behavior judged likely to recur, the applicant is considered Class B for a physical or mental disorder.

Summary of Substance Use Disorders and Substance-Induced Disorders
DSM DiagnosisInvolving Controlled Substance?Harmful Behavior Associated with Disorder (Current, or History Likely to Recur)?Classification for Immigration Purposes
Substance, use disorder (mild, moderate, or severe)YesN/A-Does not applyClass A, Drug Abuse/Addiction
Substance use disorder (mild, moderate, or severe)NoYesClass A, Physical/Mental Disorder with Associated Harmful Behavior
Substance use disorder (mild, moderate, or severe)NoNoClass B, Physical/Mental Disorder without Associated Harmful Behavior
Substance-induced disorderYesN/A-Does not applyClass A, Drug Abuse/Addiction
Substance-induced disorderNoYesClass A, Physical/Mental Disorder with Associated Harmful Behavior
Substance-induced disorderNoNoClass B, Physical/Mental Disorder without Associated Harmful Behavior

Class A and Class B Medical Conditions

Class A medical conditions are inadmissible conditions and include an applicant who is determined to have -

  • A current physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior
  • A past physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior if the harmful behavior is likely to recur or to lead to other harmful behavior in the future
  • Drug (substance) abuse or addiction (dependence)

Class B medical conditions are not inadmissible medical conditions and include any applicant who is determined to have a physical or mental abnormality, disease, or disability serious in degree or nature amounting to a substantial departure from well-being.

Mental Health Examination

The panel physician can recognize that an applicant with a physical or mental disorder might have an associated harmful behavior during any point of the examination.

  • While taking the medical history of a mental disorder,
  • While taking history of harmful behavior, or
  • While observing for current abnormal behavior during the physical examination.

Medical History

The panel physician should review the applicant’s Medical History and Physical Examination Worksheet (DS-3026) and available medical records. To fully investigate the applicant’s past medical history, the panel physician, when possible, should -

  • Obtain other relevant records, such as police, military, school, and employment, that might provide a history of harmful behavior associated with physical or mental disorders.
  • Ask accompanying family members for information about the applicant regarding any military, police, school or occupational problems, or social dysfunction.
  • Ask about mental disorders in the family and, when appropriate, about signs of mental problems or odd behaviors.
  • Ask about any use of drugs and medicines.
  • Ask about harmful behaviors.

When a panel physician defers diagnosis and classification, the panel physician should explain to the applicant what the panel physician would like to see during the next 3-6 months (in order to classify the applicant) to show abstinence (see Figure 2). This may include but is not limited to requiring clinical reports from health care professionals for applicants with possible substance-related disorders to demonstrate participation in a drug treatment program. For applicants with deferred diagnosis and classification, the panel physician should consider documenting in a statement signed by the applicant the information he or she is providing to the applicant; the statement should specify what is required during the next 3 to 6 months (see Figure 2) to show abstinence. The panel physician should also consider requiring clinical reports from health care professionals for applicants with possible substance-related disorders to demonstrate participation in a drug treatment program.

Psychiatric Evaluation

The panel physician should conduct an activities assessment and mental status examination that assesses, at a minimum -

  • orientation,
  • mood and affect,
  • speech and language,
  • anxiety,
  • thought processes and content, and
  • behavior.

The panel physician may estimate the degree of cognitive impairment in dementia or mental retardation by assessing the applicant's (1) level of knowledge, and (2) ability to carry out functions of daily living (e.g., learning, communication, and routine activities).

Any available reports of cognitive, development, or intelligence testing, or neuropsychological testing in the medical record are welcome and should be included with the panel physician’s report. However, the panel physician is not asked to routinely send applicants for additional psychological tests.

Under most circumstances, the panel physician or consultant will not need to provide additional psychological or neuropsychological testing. Use of projective instruments, such as Rorschach test, may not be useful given the added administrative burden involved. No psychological or neuropsychological testing is a substitute for the panel physician’s or consultant’s history and examination of the applicant. However, for certain cases, these tests may aid in making a diagnosis.

Laboratory Testing

Random screening for drugs is not part of the routine medical examination for applicants for U.S. admission. The panel physician needs to evaluate the applicant’s history, behavior and physical appearance when determining if drug screening should be performed.

Whole populations of applicants should not be routinely subject to random laboratory screening. The panel physician should make an individual decision based on the indications for drug screening. (See Table 1)

Laboratory testing to identify underlying medical conditions that might be causing psychiatric manifestations may be necessary before making any mental disorder diagnoses. However, specialized laboratory testing, such as dexamethasone suppression tests or challenge administration of various pharmaceuticals, is usually not indicated in the diagnosis of applicants.

Other possible uses of laboratory support depend on the availability of such laboratory services and the clinical judgment of the panel physician as to their usefulness in classification of the individual applicant. For example, therapeutic levels of prescribed anticonvulsant medications, antipsychotic medications, or other medicines used in psychiatry (such as lithium levels) might be of value to the panel physician in -

  • Determining the applicant’s adherence to a prescribed course of treatment.
  • Possibly changing or adjusting the applicant’s medications, and therefore contributing to remission of illness and reduction of associated harmful behavior.

Random screening for drugs on short notice to the applicant can provide additional evidence to aid in diagnosis and classification. For example, the panel physician might request that three random screenings for drugs within a 3- to 6-month period be done with only 24- to 48-hour notification to the applicant. The period of advance notification should be the minimum practical time for the applicant to arrive at the screening facility, preferably 24 or 48 hours after notification.

It is the panel physician’s responsibility to know the reliability and validity of the laboratory tests and laboratory methods used during the medical evaluation. All drug testing is to be done by using materials licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or by the equivalent licensing office in other countries. Rapid testing or semi-quantitative testing may be used for the screening test; however, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), performed at a reference laboratory, needs to be used as the confirmatory test. Positive and negative controls must be used with any testing and only test kits that are for medical diagnosis and treatment must be used. Forensic testing is minimally regulated and will be labeled “not for medical diagnosis and treatment” and, therefore, should not be used because it is not sensitive enough for medical purposes.

Mental or Physical Disorders With Associated Harmful Behavior

Only mental or physical disorders during which the applicant engages in or has engaged in harmful behavior that is associated with (due to) the mental or physical disorder will make an applicant inadmissible. As previously stated, no diagnosis of a mental or physical disorder by itself provides a basis for inadmissibility. There must also be a determination made regarding current harmful behavior or a history of harmful behavior, associated with or caused by the disorder, and the likelihood of associated harmful behavior to recur, in order to provide basis for inadmissibility.

Thus, when evaluating an applicant for possible mental disorders, it is essential to assess for the likelihood of harmful behavior. Because there are mental disorders that are commonly associated with harmful behavior, it may be helpful to first look for the harmful behavior when assessing an applicant for a possible mental disorder. (See Figure 1)

Mental disorders most frequently associated with harmful behavior include -

  • major depression,
  • bipolar disorder,
  • schizophrenia, and
  • mental retardation.

These disorders occur within broader categories of disorders that can be grouped as -

  • Mood disorders that include major depression and bipolar disorders and can be associated with high rates of suicide and aggression.
  • Anxiety disorders that include post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorders, phobias, and anxiety disorders and can be associated with harmful behavior.
  • Personality disorders that include antisocial, paranoid, and borderline personality disorders and can be associated with impulsive acts of violence.
  • Sexual disorders that include paraphilias.
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders that can be associated with delusions, paranoia, suicide, and aggressive acts.
  • Disorders usually first diagnosed in childhood that include mental retardation and conduct disorder and are often associated with harmful behaviors. In addition, other cognitive disorders, such as dementia, can be associated with harmful behaviors.
  • Substance-related disorders that include substance dependence or abuse. For specific substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (see Appendix C), no associated harmful behavior is required for the applicant to have a medically inadmissible condition based on substance abuse/dependence (please see above for the determination of substance abuse/dependence). The panel physician is reminded that for substances not listed in Schedule I-V such as alcohol, that abuse or dependence is evaluated as a mental disorder and determination of associated harmful behavior is required for applicant to have a medically inadmissible condition. With alcohol dependence or abuse there is often associated harmful behavior during periods of intoxication and withdrawal.

Physical Disorder

Physical disorders are rarely associated with harmful behavior. It may happen in delirious or confused states due to metabolic disturbances, hypoglycemia; and some psychomotor epilepsies and in the aftermath of generalized seizure disorders and various forms of seizure disorders. When evaluating an applicant for a physical disorder with associated harmful behavior, the panel physician should diagnosis physical disorders according to the conventions used in the current edition of the ICD published by the World Health Organization.

Current Harmful Behavior

If the applicant is currently engaging in harmful behavior, that is, harmful behavior (see definition above) that has continuously occurred and seems ongoing, the panel physician must evaluate whether the actions may be indicative of a mental disorder.

Future Harmful Behavior

If the applicant presently is or in the past has engaged in harmful behavior associated with a physical or mental disorder, the panel physician must evaluate whether the harmful behavior is likely to recur. Many factors enter into this determination of classification, and the decision requires clinical judgment. At a minimum, the underlying physical or mental disorder must be either in remission or reliably controlled by medication or other effective treatment. As a general guideline, when a mental or physical disorder has a favorable prognosis and is in remission or under control but there was associated harmful behavior, if it has been 12 months since the harmful behavior occurred, the harmful behavior is less likely to recur. (See Table 3)

Remission

The current version of the DSM defines sustained, full remission as a period of at least 12 months during which no substance use or mental disorder-associated behaviors have occurred. These new technical instructions reflect the current medical knowledge and standards of the DSM. The panel physician and his or her consultant must use their clinical judgment in determining if 12 months is an acceptable period of time for the individual applicant to demonstrate sustained, full remission. This time period must be based on the reliability of the evidence provided, such as clinical reports of participation in a program, such as a drug treatment program.

Remission must also be considered in two contexts: (1) general mental disorders and (2) substance-related disorders.

For general mental disorders, the determination of remission must be made based on the assessment of associated harmful behavior, either current or history of judged likely to recur and DSM criteria. This includes substance-related disorders for those substances, including alcohol, not listed in Schedules I through V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act.

For substance-related disorders for those substances listed in Schedule I through V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act, the determination of remission must be made based on applicant’s substance use and DSM criteria.

The practical significance for diagnosis of remission is that applicants who are or have been determined to be Class A for drug abuse or addiction for those substances listed in Schedule I through V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substance Act are not eligible for a waiver and must complete the time period for sustained, full remission before reapplying for admission.

The panel physician must exercise judgment in reevaluating applicants with a previous Class A determination who are reapplying for admission. If the disorder is in the past, the decision is whether to classify the applicant as Class A or B. If the disorder is current, the decision becomes whether the applicant is still Class A or is in a period of remission sufficient to lend confidence that remission is sustained and full. In other words, if the applicant is currently in remission, what is the likelihood that the remission will be sustained? (See Table 2)

Sexually Dangerous People

Not all sexually dangerous people have behaviors attributable to a psychiatric or general medical disorder. For instance, rapist is not a psychiatric diagnosis. However, people diagnosed with paraphilias might commit rape when their intense sexual fantasy, urge, or fetish is enacted with a child or other non-consenting person. People who have harmful behaviors associated with sexual acts, whether reported as a criminal act or psychiatric disorder, have been shown not to benefit reliably from treatment programs. Documented or acknowledged episodes of paraphilia might represent only a fraction of the sexually dangerous person’s history of related harmful behaviors. Given the pattern of recurring harmful behaviors in paraphilia and the high relapse rate of sexual offenders, applicants with a history of harmful behavior associated with sexual acts are almost always likely to have a recurrence of harmful behavior and therefore remain medically classifiable as a Class A mental disorder with associated harmful behavior.

Referring the Applicant to a Specialist for Psychiatric Examination

After reviewing the applicant's DS-3026 and other available records (such as medical, psychiatric, police, military, school, and employment) and performing mental status and physical examinations (including an Activities Assessment and Mental Status Assessment), the panel physician might feel that a more specialized psychiatric examination is indicated. (See Table 4)

If an applicant has been referred to a specialist for psychiatric evaluation and the panel physician still needs guidance and assistance in determining the diagnosis and classification of a Class A or Class B or No Class A or Class B condition, DGMQ may be consulted to provide additional assistance.

A copy of the all pertinent medical information may be faxed to 404-639-4441, sent via secure files to cdcQAP@cdc.gov, or mailed to the following address:

Quality Assessment Program
Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop E-03
1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, US

Mental Health Screening Results and Travel Clearance

For physical or mental disorders with associated harmful behavior (past and present), or substance-related disorders, the panel physician should use the below outlined screening results to classify applicants as Class A or Class B.

Pertinent information relating to physical or mental disorders, and substance related disorders should be indicated on the DS-3026.

Screening Results and Travel Clearance

  • Applicants without findings suggestive of mental or physical disorders, or substance abuse or addiction can be cleared for travel to the United States (No Class A or B Physical or Mental Disorder, No Class A or B Drug Abuse/Addiction (Dependence).
  • Applicants with physical or mental disorders that affect behavior but no associated harmful behavior can be cleared for travel to the United States (Class B). These conditions should be indicated on the DS-2053 or DS-2054, or DS-3026.
  • Applicants with “addiction” (dependence) or abuse of any of the substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (see Appendix C) with or without associated harmful behavior are ineligible to enter the United States (Class A). Applicants may not apply for a waiver of eligibility.
  • Applicants with a diagnosis of a current physical or mental disorder (including other substance-related disorders such as alcohol-related disorders) with associated harmful behavior may not be cleared for travel to the United States (Class A).
  • Applicants with a history of a physical or mental disorder (including other substance-related disorders, such as alcohol-related disorders) with associated harmful behavior and whose harmful behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior are not cleared for travel to the United States (Class A).
  • Applicants with a history of alcohol-related arrests or convictions (e.g., driving under the influence [DUI]) who currently continues to drink alcohol and who meets DSM criteria for alcohol abuse are not cleared for travel to the United States (Class A).
  • Applicants with single alcohol related arrest or conviction within the last five years, or two or more arrests or convictions within the last ten years should be evaluated for alcohol abuse (mental health classification pending).
  • Applicants who meet DSM criteria for mood disorders or schizophrenic disorders with associated harmful behavior, either current or judged likely to recur, are not cleared for travel to the United States (Class A).
  • Applicants with sustained, full remission of “addiction” (dependence) or abuse of any of the substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (see Appendix C) may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.
  • Applicants with a history of a diagnosable physical or mental disorder (including other substance-related disorders, such as alcohol-related disorders) with associated harmful behavior when the harmful behavior is judged unlikely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.
  • Applicants who are diagnosed with a physical disorder that affects behavior or a mental disorder (including substance-related disorders) that is significant enough to require clinical attention but who has had no associated harmful behavior, (such as those with seizure disorders, mental retardation, or schizophrenia without associated harmful behavior) may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.
  • Applicants with history of alcohol related arrests or convictions that currently meets DSM criteria for full, sustained remission, may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.
  • Applicant with current or history of mood disorders or schizophrenic disorders without associated harmful behavior may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.
  • Applicants with history of non-medical use of substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (see Appendix C) that currently meets DSM criteria for full, sustained remission may be cleared for travel and assigned a Class B Mental Health classification.

Waivers

A provision allows applicants with a Class A physical disorder or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior to petition for a Class A waiver. Form I-601 or I-602 (for immigrants or refugees, respectively) must be completed. These waivers are submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on an individual basis. DGMQ also reviews the waivers and supporting medical examination to provide an opinion regarding the case to the requesting entity (DOS or DHS, USCIS). DGMQ’s review of the waiver and supporting medical examination documentation is to ensure that the applicant has been classified properly and that an appropriate U.S. health care provider is identified for the applicant. DHS, USCIS has the final authority to adjudicate the waiver request.

Most applicants diagnosed with substance abuse or addiction (dependence) for specific substance categories based on current DSM criteria and classified as Class A are not eligible for a waiver.

Applicants who were previously diagnosed as Class A for substance abuse or addiction and subsequently found to be in remission and reclassified as Class B do not require a waiver.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse/Addiction Classifications and Descriptions

The physical and mental disorders with associated harmful behaviors and substance related disorders are listed below. Applicants may have more than one classification. However, applicants cannot be classified as both Class A and Class B for the same physical or mental disorder, or substance related disorder.

No Class A or Class B Classification

  • Applicants with no diagnosis of physical or mental disorder, or substance related disorder.
  • Applicants diagnosed with physical and mental disorders based on current DSM criteria that affect behavior but do not meet criteria for Class A or Class B.

Class A Physical or Mental Disorder with Associated Harmful Behavior

  • Applicants diagnosed with current physical or mental disorder based on current DSM criteria with associated harmful behavior.
  • Applicants diagnosed with history of physical or mental disorder based on current DSM criteria with associated harmful behavior judged likely to recur or lead to other harmful behaviors.
  • Applicants with non medical substance use for non specific substance categories (including alcohol and other substances NOT provided in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act) and diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence based on current DSM criteria with current associated harmful behavior or history of associated harmful behavior judged likely to recur.

Class A Substance Abuse or Dependence for Specific Substances provided in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act

  • Applicants with non medical substance use for specific substances provided in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (see Appendix C), and diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence based on current DSM criteria with or without associated harmful behavior.

Class B Current Physical or Mental Disorder with No Associated Harmful Behavior

  • Applicants with current diagnosable physical or mental disorder (including alcohol or other non specific substance categories disorders) based on current DSM criteria with no associated harmful behavior.

Class B History of Physical or Mental Disorder with Associated Harmful Behavior Unlikely to Recur

  • Applicants with history of diagnosable physical or mental disorder (including alcohol or other non specific substance categories disorders) based on current DSM criteria with associated harmful behavior when the harmful behavior is judged unlikely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior.

Class B Substance Abuse or Dependence in Full Remission

  • Applicants diagnosed with full, sustained remission of substance abuse or dependence based on current DSM criteria.

Documentation

Department of State forms DS-2053 or DS-2054, DS-3025, DS-3026, and DS- 3024 or DS-3030 must be completed in their entirety and included in the applicant’s travel packet. This includes assigning a classification on the DS-2053 or DS-2054 if an applicant is Class A or Class B for a physical or mental disorder or substance related disorder. Incomplete documentation may result in refusal to grant a visa or designation of medical hold status at arrival to ports of entry.

For applicants that are referred to a specialist for further evaluation, the panel physician is required to attach the original specialist’s report to the DS forms.

For applicants that are referred for psychological or laboratory testing, the panel physician is required to attach the original of all testing results to the DS forms.

The report of the specialist and all testing results must be provided in English.

Any other documents provided for review regarding the diagnosis or classification of a physical or mental disorder, or substance related disorder for an applicant should be attached to the DS forms by the panel physician.

APPENDIX A: GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS

CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States

DGMQ - Division of Global Migration and Quarantine

DHS - Department of Homeland Security

DOS - Department of State

DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

FDA - Food and Drug Administration

ICD - Manual of the International Classification of Diseases

WHO - World Health Organization

APPENDIX B: USEFUL RESOURCES

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.

World Health Organization: Manual of the International Classification of Diseases.

APPENDIX C: CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

Schedules I through V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act are available at the following location: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2001-title21-vol9/pdf/CFR-2001-title21-vol9-part1308-subjectgroup-id175.pdf [PDF - 4 pages] .

APPENDIX D: SUMMARY OF MENTAL HEALTH EXAMINATION

Summary

  • The purpose of the examination is to identify health-related conditions that render an applicant inadmissible and conditions that will need follow-up care after resettlement.
  • Health-related conditions that render an applicant inadmissible are -
    • Dependence on (addiction) or abuse of a specific substance provided in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act.
    • A physical or mental disorder (including alcohol-related disorders) that might cause or has caused harmful behavior.
    • History of physical or mental disorder that has caused harmful behavior and is likely to recur.
  • Mental disorders are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior.
    • Substance dependence and abuse are determined by DSM criteria.
      • Indicated medical use of a substance is not substance abuse.
    • General mental disorders are determined by DSM criteria.
      • “V” coded conditions are not mental disorder diagnoses.
  • Harmful behavior is:
    • Serious psychological or physical injury to others or to the applicant.
    • A serious threat to health or safety.
    • Major damage to property.
  • Harmful behavior alone (without mental or physical disorder) or a mental or physical disorder alone is not a health-related condition that renders an applicant inadmissible.
    • Any antisocial act requires further investigation, but mental disorder diagnoses involve patterns of behavior, not single events.
  • The classification (A or B) is used to determine admissibility and the need for follow-up care.
  • Remission is determined by DSM criteria.
    • Sustained, full remission for substance-related disorders is at least 12 months.
    • Sustained, full remission is dependent on clinical judgment but requires reliable evidence.
    • A statement signed by the applicant is helpful in documenting -
      • The applicant’s understanding of his or her condition, and
      • Requirements to demonstration remission, such clinical reports.
  • Harmful behavior unlikely to recur includes the following factors-
    • Remission or control of the mental disorder for at least 12 months.
    • External circumstances influencing that behavior have changed.
  • The eligibility to apply for a waiver is determined by law. DHS, USCIS has the final authority to adjudicate the waiver request.

Figures

Figure 1. For Applicant With Medical History of a Physical or Mental Disorder, Next Determine:

Figure 1 is flow chart for evaluating and classifying applicants with a physical or mental disorder.   The flow chart indicates that for an applicant with medical history of a physical or mental disorder, the civil surgeon should next determine if the disorder requires follow up care.   If no, the applicant should be classified as No Class.  If yes, the civil surgeon must determine if there is associated behavior.  If not, the applicant should be classified as Class B.  If there is associated behavior, the civil surgeon must determine if the behavior is harmful.  If not, the applicant should be classified as Class B.  If the applicant does have associated harmful behavior, the civil surgeon should determine each of the following:   Is there current harmful behavior.  If yes, the applicant should be classified as Class A.    If there is no current harmful behavior, is there potential for harmful behavior.  If yes, the applicant should be classified as Class A.   If there is no potential for harmful behavior, is there a history of harmful behavior.  If not, the applicant should be classified as Class B.  If there is a history of harmful behavior, is the harmful behavior likely to recur.   If yes, the applicant should be classified as Class A.  If there is no current harmful behavior, no potential for harmful behavior, or a history of harmful behavior that the civil surgeon determines is not likely to recur, the applicant should be classified as Class B.

Figure 2. Identifying and Classifying Applicants With Possible Substance Dependence or Abuse

Figure 2 is flow chart for identifying and classifying applicants with possible substance dependence or abuse.   The flow chart indicates that an applicant's medical history, behavior or substance use (including alcohol) should be used by the civil surgeon to determine diagnosis and classification.  If the applicant's pattern of use or impaired behavior meets the DSM criteria for a substance use disorder or substance-induced disorder, the applicant should be diagnosed with a substance use disorder or substance-induced disorder.  If the substance is included in the specific substances categories, (those substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act), the applicant should be classified as Class A for Abuse and Addiction.   If the substance is not included in the specific substance categories (those substances listed in Schedule I-V of Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act), and the applicant has no associated harmful behavior, the applicant should be classified as Class B for a mental disorder.  If the applicant has associated harmful behavior, the applicant should be classified as Class A for a mental disorder.  Note: Alcohol is not included in the specific substance categories.   If the applicant's pattern of use or impairment may meet the DSM criteria for a substance use disorder or substance-induced disorder, and the applicant has a questionable maladaptive pattern or impairment, but there is insufficient data for a diagnosis, the civil surgeon may defer diagnosis and classification for three to six months giving the applicant an opportunity to show abstinence or to obtain additional information such as medical or other relevant records, and laboratory or psychological testing.

Tables

 
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