What no one says about green card

Friday January 24 2020

US Embassy would not accept medical assessment results unless they were carried out and submitted by the US Embassy’s specified doctors at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). SHUTTERSTOCK


I got a letter from the United States Embassy in Nairobi in August, 2012 confirming that was scheduled for a Green Card visa interview in November of that year.

The letter also said that I was required to go for a medical assessment before the interview and the embassy would not accept medical assessment results unless they were carried out and submitted by the US Embassy’s specified doctors at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

No one had told me that I needed to go for a full medical check-up before a Visa interview and this requirement was a real downer. I couldn’t sleep as I kept wondering why I had to go through a medical check-up. I developed a lot of fear and anger.

By mid-September, I called the IOM to make an appointment but was informed that I had to physically go to their offices as they needed to see my documents and letter from the US Embassy.

I went to the IOM offices and it was at their gate that an official checked my documents and gave me an appointment for 7.30am the next day. I was required to bring five photographs as IOM would require two photographs and the US Embassy three. It was then that I realized that I have a phobia for injections and hospitals.

I was the first one to arrive at the IOM office gate by 6am on the day of my medical assessment. I was shaking from either the cold or the anticipated medical test. By 7.10am, we were about 35 people including children and were let into the IOM reception. After checking our documents, the receptionist took copies and stapled our passport photos on them.


We were then led to a counselling room. Those who required an English interpreter for the counselling were led to a separate room. The counselling was about what to expect during the medical assessment. After the 20-minute counselling session, we were asked to sign consent forms.

After the counselling, we went back to the reception area where we were issued with name tags that had our numbers. We were informed that all women were required to provide a urine sample under the supervision of an IOM official.

An IOM woman official made sure that no two people entered the toilet at the same time and that you produced a urine sample in their bottle. After handing over your sample, you went back to the reception where you were issued with a medical test payment invoice.

You then went to the cashier’s window and paid Ksh13,820 ($138). This is just part of the total medical assessment, which costs about Ksh48,000 ($480).

At about 11.30am we were asked to get inside a white van. We were driven to Nairobi Hospital where IOM had x-ray rooms at the back of Nairobi Hospital Doctors’ Plaza.

Each group from the van was led inside the x-ray reception area where you handed over your documents. We were called in one by one and asked to change into a hospital robe and led into an x-ray room. Once your chest x-ray was taken, you were asked to wait at the reception area.

After all the members of your team had their x-rays taken, you got your documents back, headed back to the van and were driven back to the IOM offices. It was now about 2pm. I handed over my name tag and the receptionist requested that I come back the following day at 8.00am for more medical tests.

On this second day, I was taken to another IOM block where I gave a blood sample. I was then tested for TB and given measles and influenza vaccinations. After the vaccinations, I was taken to a room where a nurse took my blood pressure, measured my height and weight, did an eye test and then had me sign a form. I was then taken to another health examination room where I had an ENT exam. Then, I was taken to another room and asked to undress. My mouth, arms, legs, stomach and back were all examined. At the reception, I was informed that my medical test results would be submitted to the American Embassy and forwarded in two weeks.