Canada: Relaxed Medical Inadmissibility Policy Details Announced

The Minister of Immigration has released details on the relaxed medical inadmissibility policy, which would result in more foreign nationals with disabilities or some medical conditions to be admissible to Canada. It is possible that the government will hold pending applications in abeyance until the policy is officially implemented, however this remains unclear.

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Apr 16, 2018

The situation

As expected, the Minister of Immigration has announced details on the proposed changes to medical inadmissibility rules in Canada.  The policy will go into effect June 1, 2018 and it is expected to dispense with a majority of the medical inadmissibility cases in Canada.

A closer look

  • Current medical inadmissibility policy. Foreign nationals are medically inadmissible to Canada based on the cost of care measured against the estimated average annual cost to care for a Canadian national, and treatment waitlists. Foreign nationals whose medical care costs exceed this average amount are considered to be medically inadmissible to Canada.


  • Increased cost threshold. The new policy will increase the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to three times the current level. For 2017, the threshold is CAD 6,655 per year.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals with medical costs that are less than the newly-announced threshold would be admissible to Canada.


  • New ‘social services’ definition. The new policy will amend the definition of ‘social services’ by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.
    • Impact. By excluding these services from the definition of ‘social services’, many families with children with intellectual disabilities will no longer be medically inadmissible to Canada.

Transitional measures

The Minister of Immigration has confirmed that until the relaxed medical inadmissibility rules go into effect on June 1, Ministerial discretion will be used to assess all applications with medical inadmissibility.

To be adjudicated under the new provisions, foreign nationals will need to re-file visa applications submitted prior to June 1, 2018.


The Canadian government has announced these changes based on its review of the medical inadmissibility provisions and meetings with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders.

These policy changes were recommended by a Parliamentary committee and then agreed to by the federal government. The next legislative steps for full implementation are not yet clear.  Since healthcare is a provincial matter in Canada, it is expected that ongoing communication between federal and provincial governments will be required to fully implement this policy change and to determine how the additional cost will be managed.

Looking ahead

It is expected that the federal government will work with provinces and territories toward the full elimination of the medical inadmissibility policy, including the following measures:

  • The centralization of medical inadmissibility applications to one office to increase consistency and efficiency in decision-making;
  • The review of Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada’s departmental procedures and products to facilitate the application process and ensure clear communication with foreign nationals; and
  • The ongoing training of adjudicators and medical officers to support these changes.


This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

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