Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles - Will my tattoo be a problem for my immigration application

Can Tattoos Cause Visa Problems When Immigrating to US?

This post is also available in: Español

Certain tattoos can cause issues with your green card application. It depends on the type of tattoo and whether or not it could symbolize an affiliation with a dangerous gang or other group. Here’s what you need to know.

Part of the permanent resident process is the immigration medical exam. It’s here that immigration will not only be checking your health, but also examining any tattoos.

The Immigration Medical Exam

The reason for the immigration medical exam is to ensure that you are not inadmissable on any health-related grounds. It’s a fairly straightforward process. You go to a certified doctor—it’s important that they are a doctor certified by the USCIS or Department of State—and they conduct a medical exam.

The doctor will review your medical history, which vaccines you’ve had, and give you a physical examination, a chest X-ray, and blood test. The doctor is checking for any communicable diseases and making sure you are up to date on your vaccines. These include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Influenza type b (Hib)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
  • Varicella

You should bring with you a list of vaccines that you’ve already had and proof, such as your immunization record (if you have it). Also bring any documentation for existing medical conditions. If you’re adjusting status in the United States, you will also need to bring a copy of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with the top part filled in by you.

As the doctor examines you, they will complete a medical report. In this report, the doctor will note the presence of tattoos. When finished, they will place it in an envelope, seal it, and hand it to you. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE. The USCIS or Department of State (depending on whether you are applying for a visa from inside the U.S. or abroad) will need this envelope to remain sealed.

Bad Tattoos for Immigration

Yes, while the doctor is checking your health, they will also be examining your body for tattoos. Why? The main reason is to determine if you have any symbol on your body that suggests a gang affiliation or affiliation with another organization that the United States deems a threat. 

Now, I don't want you to think, "Oh, no, I have a tattoo, I'm never going to become an immigrant." No. If you have a little butterfly on your toe, I don't think you'll have a problem. That is not something they care about. However, it is important that the tattoo not be or even appear to be gang-related.

If immigration thinks that the tattoo may be gang-related, then you might be in trouble. Once it’s labeled this way, it will make it very difficult for you to immigrate. It’s very important to let your attorney know of any tattoo that you have, even if you don't think it's gang related, just to make sure that it doesn't come off that way. It's better to be prepared and be able to express the true story behind the tattoo come time for your interview.

Immigration Help

I hope this information was helpful to you. It's extremely relevant today, especially for people trying to immigrate from abroad. It's real; it's happening; and it's very important that you know about this and that you inform your attorney of any tattoos.

If you have any questions about your green card application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit to schedule an appointment.

I also suggest that you download my FREE ebook that explains different routes of immigration. Note that this ebook is not an alternative to seeking legal advice, but simply a resource to help you understand what immigration options are available to you.


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About the Author Sharon Abaud, Esq.

If you have any questions about your Immigration Status, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Your immigration case matters to me.

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