Relief for green card applicants

Posted on Sep 19 2019

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Green card applicants in the CNMI who are required to undergo a special type of test for tuberculosis will no longer need to go off-island to avail of the test as the Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. will be helping administer the test on Saipan.

DLS Saipan manager Mary Jean Jacar confirmed that DLS will soon be collecting blood specimens for the test, called Interferon Gamma Release Assay, in response to the changes in Form I-693, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services medical examination for green card applicants.

Form I-693 is the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, which is required for those applying for green cards.

The form used to also accept the tuberculin skin test but that is no longer the case, leaving the IGRA test as the only one it will accept. The nearest site for such a test is in Honolulu, Hawaii. That would have required green card applicants to go off island.

Jacar said that the DLS will begin collections starting Sep. 23, the day in which the USCIS will only be accepting the newer edition of its Form-I693, from Mondays to Wednesdays from 1pm to 2:30pm. She said that the limited amount of collection time is due to the laboratory’s collection process, as they have a 48-hour period to send the collection samples to their Guam office and due to limited specimen stability.

This will be an ongoing process as they understand that the CNMI or Guam has no proper facility to conduct IGRA testing. She said that once samples are collected on Saipan, they will be shipped to Guam, and then on to Hawaii once the samples have met the stability process.

According to the USCIS website, starting Sept. 23, the office will only accept the July 15, 2019, edition of Form I-693. Until then, applicants can continue to provide USCIS with the Oct. 19, 2017, edition of the form. The most significant change in the newly amended form is the removal of the “tuberculin skin test,” leaving only the “interferon gamma release assay test” as the only test for tuberculosis.

“There is no site in the CNMI that offers this test, but the DLS decided to take the opportunity to help the future green card applicants,” Jacar said.

The Commonwealth Health Care Corp. confirmed that the CNMI’s only hospital, the Commonwealth Health Center, is not able to perform the IGRA tests. CHCC spokesperson Zoe Travis informed Saipan Tribune that the nearest U.S. location to avail of this test is in Honolulu, Hawaii. Travis also noted that Guam does not have this lab test.

For more information about the IGRA sample collections, contact the DLS at (670) 235-0233 or visit their office at the TSL Plaza on Beach Road.

Marc Venus | Reporter
Marc Venus is the Saipan Tribune's public health and education reporter. He has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Computer Applications and is working on his bachelor’s degree at the Northern Marianas College. Contact him at

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