Expat Life

The road to residency part 1: the visa medical

With my medical assessment, I have officially begun actively moving towards obtaining residency.

I’m applying onshore (that is, from within Australia, as opposed to offshore) for a de facto partner visa subclass 820, which is a temporary visa. If granted, after two years, if the relationship is still intact, I would be granted a permanent visa, subclass 801.

I have superficially reviewed the application in the past, but when I sat down a couple of weeks ago, read, and printed it all out, I quickly became overwhelmed and cried. After about 10 minutes of crying, I started organising and planning.

One of the many requirements is a health examination, which must be arranged with Medibank Health Solutions.

There are five Medibank locations in Melbourne, but only two for visa medicals. One is in the CBD, where I went, and the other is in Dandenong. Appointments can only be made within five days and can be booked online or by calling. I called Monday morning and was told there were no appointments available, but I should call back in the afternoon to see if anything had opened up. I called back in the afternoon and there were still no appointments available, but I was told I should try booking online. I did and obtained an appointment for 2:30 pm the following day.

I arrived at 1:45 pm and took a number, B 288. B is the category of people who booked the appointment online. I took a seat and waited. The room was full. It was mostly Asians and Indians, mostly young, and many families with small children.

Immigrants in a waiting room waiting to get a medical assessment.

At just before 2:30 pm, my number was called to window five (out of eight). I barely remember what the young man asked me. He took my passport and my forms, which I had filled out at home. Form 26 is the medical examination for an Australian visa and form 160 is the radiology report on chest X-ray of an applicant for an Australian visa. I also had an HIV test. The man behind the counter asked me what visa subclass I was applying for and if the results could be mailed to my home; 820 and yes, I said, and I wrote my address down on a sticker. Then he took my photo and asked me to sit in the waiting area.

A few minutes later, I was called along with some others for the X-ray. We entered a smaller waiting room. A few more minutes later, our little group was passed into the X-ray area. We were instructed to remove our tops, bras included, and ladies were given a blue medical robe. We each entered individual dressing booths to change and were called out one by one. There were two radiologists, a man and a woman. The woman attended to me. She asked my name and date of birth, and we both signed my form 160. Then she took the X-ray. I got dressed and went back to the large waiting room.

A short while later, a woman called me along with some others and we entered yet another small waiting area. We were called one at a time. When it was my turn, a middle-aged Asian woman called my name and escorted me to a small room for the HIV blood test. Back to the small waiting room, or the blue chairs, as they called it. Soon, a short, white woman escorted me to a private room where she weighed me, took my height, and tested my vision. My left eye is not as good as my right.

Then she showed me the way to a bathroom for the urine test before returning to the small waiting area. Another woman came shortly after and said I would need to repeat the urine test after seeing the doctor. She encouraged me to drink several cups of water.

Soon, the doctor, a young Asian woman, called me and led me to her exam room. We chatted a bit and she told me I needed to redo the urine test because my sample contained protein. She suggested I was dehydrated. I undressed down to my bra and panties and laid down on the table. She took  my blood pressure, checked my heart, my spine, and poked and prodded here and there. Everything was fine.

I got dressed and returned to the blue chairs. I drank more water and repeated the urine test. This time, it returned protein and blood (probably because I was coming off my period). The doctor said I’ll need to see a general physician (GP) and have a blood and urine test to determine why protein and blood are present. She gave me an immigration referral and said any doctor would know the procedure, just hand him/her the form, and the medical centre would mail the results to Medibank.

This took about two hours and cost about $365, and it was as pleasant as something like this could be. All the employees I dealt with were kind and helpful. But now I have to pay to visit a GP and for further tests. I hope to get that accomplished this week.



  • Duane Hunter

    I to am on the road for my 820 visa, Like you we were a little overcome with the whole process but was bound and determane to get it done, I am happy to say we have everything we need (we think) and our appointment is for Monday the 17th with immigration here in Adelaide, yes we could have just sent it in but I hate the thought of a 4k check being sent to someone and no receipt, also my visa expires on the 18th, so really wanting a piece of paper saying i am on a bridging visa. From what we can tell we should not have to much a problem, I have seen others stating that they wanted this and that, well i have all that, just make sure you follow the check sheet so they cant say you are missing stuff… I am so looking forward to being able to get a job ect, like you I have a year long holiday / visitor visa and and use to working ect… Trish has been so supportive but no matter what it sucks not knowing what is going to happen and what my fate here in OZ is going to be after that…. Good luck and I will make sure I let you know how it goes Monday

    • Thanks for sharing, Duane. I know in my head that it will work out, that there’s really no good reason to deny me the 820 visa, but emotionally, you’re right, it totally sucks not knowing what your fate might be. Best of luck on your application and appointment. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  • It sounds a little grim to me compared to my medical – I applied for the offshore version of the same visa as you, so my medical was in a gorgeous little private hospital – no queuing or waiting, and it was very much guided by the one nurse who escorted me personally from doctor to x-ray to blood tests etc, The cost was about the same; somewhere between $300 and $400.

    That said, I was frantic about being separated from my partner for 9 months, so it measures out I suppose. The “not knowing” (even though you’re certain that there’s no reason for the visa to be denied) is the worst.

    Good luck, and I hope the abnormal urine test is nothing to worry about!

    • Yeah, everything is a trade-off. I really didn’t want to apply offshore, even though it’s less expensive, because I didn’t want to be away from my partner indefinitely. Thanks for your comment and good wishes!

  • Huh that’s interesting–I don’t remember my father doing any kind of medical exam to get American citizenship but I will have to ask him if he did. Do you usually have to do medical exams to get visas?

    • I have no idea what the process is nowadays for getting residency in the U.S., but I didn’t have to undergo a medical exam when I became an American citizen. In fact, becoming an American citizen was much easier than obtaining this 820 visa.

      • We got our green cards when we lived in the US, and had to have the medical, and the HIV test, and pay thousands of dollars. I think we then had to live there ten years before we could apply for citizenship, but I never wanted to be a citizen.

        • I don’t think I’ll ever become an Aussie citizen, but who knows what will happen in ten years.

          • If we had stayed in the US longer, I may have taken up citizenship, but only because I believe dual citizenship was available with Australia at the time. Can Americans apply for dual citizenship with Australia?

          • I’m not sure. I haven’t looked into citizenship. One step at a time!

          • Duane Hunter

            Hey Cosette, just an update on filing my 820 on Monday, great news I am on a bridging visa A until the 820 is approved, there were no issues when we went into the Adelaide office, just make sure you make an appointment, we didn’t send ours in to Perth, we took it to them because i hated thinking almost 4k check ect was sitting in the mail, and wouldn’t get a receipt or anything. I can now go and find a job, I know how you feel not working over the last year, if you want any info just let us know and hope we can help

          • Great news, Duane! I’m so glad it went well. So even though the 820 hasn’t been granted yet, you can already go out and get a job? That’s terrific.

          • Duane Hunter

            I was told that the Bridging Visa A you can work on, but you can’t leave the counrty unless you file for a bridging visa B, and all that is you go and fill out the paperwork and pay like a $100 or so and then you can go and come back, I have no plans on leaving unless there is a problem back in the states with my kids.

          • Thanks for coming back and sharing!

          • Duane Hunter

            Just filed for my Tax id number this morning so hope i get it back soon also

          • Julie- Yes, you can. Both America and Australia allow dual citizenship.

          • That’s nice.

  • Nancy

    Oh my Cosette, it seems like one big production line to me. The things you do for love……….I hope it all turns out fine. I’m sure it will. 🙂

  • Wow, sounds almost as fun as the procedures in France — except here for the x-ray you don’t get a gown to cover up with. I felt so exposed. Especially when a male doctor walked by like it was nothing. Gotta love it!

    • Eek! I guess the doctors are used to that, but I would have been uncomfortable too.

  • I’m about to go through my health check for my visa. I’m hoping the experience won’t be too scaring.

    • Cosette Paneque

      I’ve done it twice. The first time was relatively painless. The second time, with Bupa, far less enjoyable. It’s not set up to be comfortable, but you’ll be ok. Take something to read. Best of luck!