The immigrant medical for the USA visa had been something I’d been dreading for a while. I’m not a fan of doctors/dentists/injections at the best of times and after seeing things on various forums, I’d since been referring to my appointment as ‘Violation Day’…you’ll see why further down!
The day started off awful for me, I was on a train going up to London, I got half way there and it turned round and went back to the station I started from! Due to an incident trains were then cancelled for the next 4 hours, MAJOR PANIC. To cut a long story short, thanks to my Mum, she drove me to the nearest London Underground station 45 minutes away to try and make up some time. I made the appointment with 20 minutes to spare. After all that, I was pretty sure the medical wouldn’t be as bad as the morning I’d just had!
The London medicals take place at one of 2 doctors surgeries. I was sent to the Bentinck Street location, a 5 minute walk from Bond Street. With a combination of the visa ‘notes’ and the confirmation, it’s easy to find from the Underground Station, thanks to the little maps they include. The street looks like residential houses, the door has a little gold plaque next to it saying ‘KNIGHTSBRIDGE DOCTORS’, press the intercom button for ‘Flat 4’ and the main door is literally just inside on the right hand side.
I like to be prepared so I took my whole visa process file, just to make sure I had everything, this was what they asked to see:
- My Passport
- The embassy interview confirmation letter
- My ACRO Police Certificate
- My injection record that I had got in advance from my local doctors
- The 1 page medical questionnaire (from the NVC website)
- 4 identical passport photos (I had some spare UK sized photos, so used those, they DON’T have to match the ones you plan on giving to the embassy)
I don’t have any health problems, if I had, they would have needed a record of these too from the local doctors.
I was sent into the waiting room to fill out another questionnaire, very similar to the one I’d already filled in. Mainly yes/no tick boxes asking if I had history of particular problems, illnesses, if I was pregnant/had children etc. The only box I ticked Yes to was that I wore glasses, even though I don’t wear them on a daily basis. The waiting room had squishy sofas and jugs of water available. (There is also one unisex toilet too).
I was asked what visa category I was applying for and then me and the nurse both had to sign across one of my photos to say that it was definitely me in the picture. 1st up was the injection check up. Annoying I needed a Tetanus booster that set me back an additional £35.
*TIP* I had previously been to my NHS doctors to make sure all my routine injections were up to date. In the UK, once you have had the adult Tetanus booster (I was 14 when I had it), as far as they are concerned, you are set for life. The USA however require it to have been given within the past 10 years regardless of having had the booster already.
From here I went straight into the X-Ray room. I was asked to remove the top half of my clothing and was given a gown to cover up with. FYI – the gown goes on like a dressing gown/bath robe….NOT backwards like a hospital gown! (Silly me!). I was asked to pin my hair on top of my head, I had a spare hair band so just spun it into a normal bun. There were spare hair clips available to use.
I was made to press up against a plate and put my chin on a ledge, I then had to put my hands on my hips and press my elbows against the plate too (imagine pretending to be a chicken with wings, it felt like that), it was a pretty unnatural pose to try and hold!
The X-Ray was put into the machine to make sure it was a clear reading and then I was sent to a second waiting room in my gown.
After roughly a 20 minute wait (while speaking to another applicant that had waited since 2008 (!!!) for her visa), I was called in to see the doctor. Everyone gets asked 3 questions, have you ever had drugs (including weed), have you ever been an alcoholic, have you ever had any criminal convictions. My answers were no to all 3 so I don’t know what would happen if one of the answers were yes.
It was then a simple check up, I had the following checks:
(BMI then worked out)
- A simple eye test. *NOTE* I didn’t take my glasses (because my prescription is so small) and I passed without them, I THINK it may be based on the vision required for a driving license.
- Basic eye health check using a light
- Visual ear check (not a hearing test)
- Temperature taken (via the ear)
- Throat check (ahhhhh’s and all that)
- Blood pressure
It then gets a little more detailed. I had to strip down to my underwear, I was asked if I’d like a chaperone, I said no because I was happy enough that it was a woman. I then had to lay on the bed for the next checks:
- Heart rate taken
- Breathing checked with a stethoscope on 4 places on my back and once on my front
- The condition of my skin and nails were given a quick once over
- Blood sample taken, but it’s only checked for ONE infection
Skip past this next point if you don’t want even further details!! This was the main cause of me calling it Violation Day! If I had a problem then fair enough but when I know I’m fit and healthy I wasn’t too keen on the thought!
- The area down below…that’s normally covered by underwear…was then checked. The lady was very understanding that people don’t like this part of the test! I was told to put the robe over myself just so I didn’t feel so exposed. I didn’t have to take my underwear off completely but she did have to touch down there to have a look. It was literally like 5 seconds just to make sure I had no infections etc. I have since heard that they no longer do this part, I know people that actually put in a complaint about it and for good reason!
And that was it! I got dressed and was sent back into the waiting room just for the paperwork to be finished up. I was called to reception after around 5 minutes to pay and get my original paperwork back.
The test cost £250
Because of the tetanus injection I had a further £35 to pay, bringing my total to £285. Ouch. I was given a receipt and an up to date injection record that I’m expected to keep when I move to the USA (there’s a big bit of paper stapled to it saying DO NOT LOSE!…and don’t give it to the embassy either!).
All the doctors notes, X-Rays and blood test results are then sent DIRECTLY to the embassy. They say it takes around 4 days to reach them. I was told I’d only hear from the medical centre again if they found a problem with my X-Ray or blood, otherwise as far as they are concerned I’m good to go!
The whole process took around 40 minutes.
Part of me does wonder why immigrants get treated like this, I’ve visited America loads now, tourists can visit for 3 months at a time, so what’s to say if I had a disease or illness it wouldn’t have been spread on a visit?!
This is my experience of the process, correct in June 2016. This is just to be used as a guideline, please check your own paperwork/embassy instructions carefully in case you are required to take extra information. Any questions, I’m happy to help, let me know in the comments below or feel free to email me privately (address can be found on my About Me page)