USCIS has granted military physicians a blanket designation as civil surgeons to facilitate the medical exam required for members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and certain dependents. USCIS said the blanket designation will assist members and veterans of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents in receiving immigration medical examinations in a timely fashion.
USCIS noted that if medical officers of the U.S. Public Health Services are not available when persons arrive for admission to the United States, USCIS may designate civil surgeons to perform the tests. Physicians qualify for civil surgeon designation if they are licensed and have at least four years of professional experience. The licensing requirement, which defines "licensed physicians" as those licensed to practice medicine in the state where they render medical services, may discourage medical officers of the Armed Forces (military physicians) from becoming designated civil surgeons, USCIS observed. As a result, Armed Forces members and their dependents must pay for the immigration medical examination even though the services could easily be provided by military physicians at no cost. Additionally, the logistics to arrange for a medical exam by a non-military designated civil surgeon can sometimes be a burden to military members and their dependents, and distract from a military member's readiness. To ease these difficulties, USCIS decided to issue the blanket designation. Participation is voluntary and at the discretion of each military medical facility, USCIS said.
Additional details are included in USCIS's policy memorandum issued on September 26, 2012, and available here.