The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide a general overview of the health criteria, including the health examination requirements that apply to certain visas and the process for completing medical testing, health waivers, health undertakings and health insurance requirements that may apply.

What is meant by the Health Criteria?

An important policy aim of Australia’s migration programme is to ensure that the nation’s high health standards, which are some of the best in the world, are safeguarded and maintained. This is achieved by implementing a risk-based approach to screening visa applicants to assess their health for any diseases or conditions which may be a threat to the community, that may result in significant costs being incurred, and place added demand on healthcare resources and services that are already in short supply.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a health condition which is identified in the migration provisions as posing a significant risk to public health and is one which cannot be effectively mitigated. As a result, all visa applicants must be free of TB with no exceptions (complex provisions apply in cases of TB, for example, active and latent form of TB are distinguished in the migration provisions, and once specified TB treatment has been completed, the health requirement may be satisfied in certain circumstances).

To qualify for grant of a visa to Australia, you may need to meet a Health Requirement and complete a health examination to assess whether you present any of the identified risks listed above. This requirement is facilitated through Public Interest Criterion(PIC) 4005, 4006A and 4007 (which form part of the visa grant requirements for certain visas). To meet the health requirement, health examinations may need to be completed. The migration provisions specify when a health examination is required, and the type/s of medical testing to be conducted.

The Health Requirement applies to some temporary visa applicants, depending on:

  • The visa being applied for;
  • The visa applicant’s age (special provisions apply to children);
  • The intended length of stay in Australia;
  • The intended activities in Australia;
  • The applicant’s country of citizenship, residence or where they have spent more than 3 consecutive months in the last 5 years;
  • Any special circumstances; and
  • Any significant health conditions identified as part of the applicant’s health examinations.

The Health Requirement applies to all permanent and provisional visa applicants (a provisional visa is a temporary residence visa which may lead to a permanent residence visa). Depending on the visa for which you are applying, members of your family unit may also need to meet the health requirement for the visa to be granted to you (even if they are not migrating with you to Australia).

A health examination may also be required if your home country is affected by certain identified health concerns which are considered a threat to public health, such as Polio, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Yellow Fever.

Which health tests may be required?

The following types of medical testing may need to be performed:

  • Medical examination
  • Chest x-ray
  • HIV test
  • Hepatitis B test
  • Hepatitis C test
  • TB Screening test

When do you need to have a health examination?

If you are applying for a temporary visa, the following health examination requirements may apply:

Country TB-risk (as prescribed in the migration provisions)

 

Temporary stay in Australia of less than 6 months Temporary stay in Australia of 6 months or more 
Lower TB-riskNo immigration medical examination required unless special significance applies.No immigration medical examination required unless special significance applies.
Higher TB-riskNo immigration medical examination required unless special significance applies.Medical examination, chest x-ray (if 11 years or older).

 

Any special significance requirements must also be met.

 

 

If you are applying for a permanent or provisional visa, the following health examination requirements may apply:

Country TB-risk (as prescribed in the migration provisions)

 

Permanent and provisional visa applicants
Lower TB-riskMedical examination, chest x-ray (if 11 years or older), HIV test (if 15 years or older).

 

Any special significance requirements must also be met.

 

Higher TB-riskMedical examination, chest x-ray (if 11 years or older), HIV test (if 15 years or older).

 

Children 2 years of age but under 11 years old are required to complete a TB Screening test.

 

Any special significance requirements must also be met.

 

 

What are the Lower TB-risk and Higher TB-risk countries?

The prescribed list of countries considered to be Lower TB-risk can be accessed here. Any countries which are not listed in Schedule 1 of Column A are deemed to be Higher TB-risk for this purpose.

The TB-risk country which you will be assessed under will be based on the highest TB-risk country when you consider the following:

  • Your country of Citizenship (generally as per the passport used to lodge your visa application);
  • Your country of residence; and
  • Countries where you have spent more than 3 consecutive months (90 days) in the last 5 years (as at time of visa application lodgement).

What are special significance requirements?

If you are applying for either a temporary or permanent visa and you make a declaration in your visa application that you intend to participate in any of the special significant activities listed below, you will be required to complete additional medical examination/s (regardless of your intended period of stay in Australia and the relevant TB-risk country that applies in your circumstances).

Your intended activities in Australia

 

Medical examinations required
If you are from a higher TB-risk country and are likely to enter a health care or hospital environment

 

Medical examination, chest x-ray (if 11 years or older)
If you are pregnant and intending to give birth in Australia (applies to be onshore and offshore visa applicants)

 

Hepatitis B test
If you are 15 years or older and intending to work as, or study to be, a doctor, dentist, nurse or ambulance paramedic

 

Medical examination, chest x-ray, HIV test, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C test
If you are likely to work (or be a trainee) at an Australian childcare centre (including preschools and crèches)

 

Medical examination, chest x-ray
If you are 75 years or older and applying for a Visitor subclass 600 visa

 

Medical examination

 

Additional testing is required for the following permanent visa applicants:

Type of applicant

 

HIV testHepatitis B testHepatitis C test
All children who have been, or are to be, adopted by Australian citizens or permanent residents on an adoption subclass 102 visa, Child subclass 802 visa, or as a dependent on any permanent visa.RequiredRequiredNot required
If you have a clinical indicator or your medical history gives rise to a possibility of infection (for example, if your biological mother is positive)RequiredRequiredRequired

 

Be aware that the above is not an exhaustive list of all health tests that may be required. They are the minimum requirements only. Depending on your personal situation, you may be referred for other types of medical testing for visa grant purposes.

How long do health examination results last for?

Health examinations for visa application purposes are generally valid for a period of 12 months. You may not need to undertake medical testing when you apply for a visa if you have previously completed health examinations for visa application purposes (i.e. previous test results may be re-used in certain circumstances).

In certain cases, particularly if you are applying for a visa which has significant estimated processing delays, you would be best advised to wait until closer to the expected processing time that applies to your application before completing any required health examinations. This way, you avoid a situation where the medical test results are no longer valid by the time your application reaches the Departmental processing stage (e.g. if processing takes more than 12 months). If this occurs, you may need to repeat the medical examinations (and thus incur additional costs and further processing delays) before the visa can be granted.

How will you know if you need to have a health examination?

If you lodge your visa application online, any health examinations that you need to complete will be listed under the ‘health assessment’ link on ImmiAccount. You will first need to fill in your medical history. The system will then generate a referral letter with your HAP ID, which you will need to book your health examination/s.

If you lodge your application as a paper form, you will be contacted by your case officer if a health examination is required. If you need to have health testing completed, the process will be the same as outlined above (i.e. you will receive a referral letter, etc.).

How do you arrange your health examination/s?

Once you have been issued with your HAP ID, you can then proceed to book an appointment for your health examination/s. The process will be different, depending on whether you are located onshore or outside Australia.

If you are in Australia

All medical examinations performed in Australia for migration purposes are conducted by Bupa Medical Visa Services. You can make an appointment either onlineor by telephone on 1300 794 919.

If you are outside Australia

Medical examinations performed offshore can be completed only by a select list of panel physicians and radiologists who have been approved by the Department for this purpose. To arrange your appointment, you will need to refer to the Immigration office located nearest to you. Details of approved health service providers and their contact details will be listed there for your reference.

What do you need to bring with you to your appointment?

Ensure that you take the following items:

  • Your passport
  • Your Referral letter
  • Prescription glasses/contact lenses, where applicable
  • Any existing specialist/other medical reports for known medical conditions
  • Any previous chest x-rays

How much does the health examination cost?

If you complete your health testing in Australia, the cost for this service will be advised to you by Bupa Medical Visa Services. You can check the schedule of current fees here.

For health examinations performed offshore, the costs will differ for each country. These details will be advised to you when you contact the Department’s overseas approved panel physician or clinic.

What happens after you have completed your required health examinations?

If no health issues are identified (or non-significant health issues), the Department will determine that you have satisfied the health requirement and will grant a health clearance. It will then continue to process your visa application.

If health issues are identified, a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC), which is a registered medical practitioner appointed by the Department, will determine whether you meet the health requirement. The MOC will assess whether your health condition or disease is likely to result in significant health care and community service costs to Australia if a visa were to be granted.

If you are applying for a temporary visa, the MOC will estimate the expected costs to be incurred over the period of your proposed stay in Australia. For permanent visa applicants, the relevant period assessed will be 5 years, or 3 years if you are aged 75 years of age or older.

On this basis, the MOC will determine whether you meet the health requirement. If they assess that it has not been satisfied, the visa will not be granted, unless a health waiveris applied.

What is a health waiver?

In certain specified circumstances, the Department may apply a health waiver, which means that Immigration will waive the need for you to meet the health requirement. A health waiver can only be applied to certain visa applications for which PIC 4007 is a requirement for the grant.

A health waiver can not be exercised if you fail to meet the health requirement due to:

  • Having active TB; or
  • Having a disease or condition which is, or may result in, a threat to public health in Australia or a danger to the Australian community.

A health waiver can be exercised in the following circumstances:

  • The MOC has assessed that either you or a non-migrating family member has not met PIC 4007 due to having a disease or condition which is:
  • likely to result in significant health care and community service costs; or
  • prevent access of Australian citizens or permanent residents to these services (which are currently in short supply, such as organ transplants and dialysis);
  • Immigration has determined that you have satisfied all other requirements for grant of the visa (i.e. it is the last stage in the visa assessment and processing stage); and
  • Immigration has determined that granting the visa would be unlikely to result in undue cost to the Australian community or prevent access of Australians to these services.

You cannot apply for a health waiver. If this option is available, you will be contacted by your case officer to advise that you have not met the health requirement. You will have an opportunity to comment on the opinion of the MOC, provide information and complete a submission outlining the reasons why the health waiver should be exercised in your case (with appropriate supporting evidence to be supplied, as applicable).

Health waivers are assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a number of factors, including:

  • The capacity to mitigate the likely potential costs of your disease or condition, or lessen the impact of preventing access of Australians to services in short supply; and
  • Any compelling and/or compassionate circumstances that may exist.

The Department will make a decision based on the above, and if it decides to exercise the health waiver, your visa will be granted. Otherwise, it will be refused.

What is a health undertaking?

If you have a health condition or disease which is considered non-threatening (such as inactive TB or Hepatitis B or C), you may be requested to sign a health undertaking. This is an agreement with the Australian Government whereby you agree to attend a health clinic in Australia to follow up on your condition.

Signing the health undertaking will be a pre-requisite to granting the visa. In this case, the Department will determine that you have satisfied the health requirement.

Under the agreement, you would be required to contact Bupa Medical Visa Services within 28 days of your arrival in Australia and provide any required information. You may be requested to attend an appointment at a specified health clinic. You must then undergo any treatment or investigation as directed.

Health Insurance

Another important aspect of the health requirement for certain visa classes is the need to make adequate arrangements for health insurance cover for the duration of your stay in Australia. It may also be applied as a visa condition once the visa is granted. For example, visa condition 8501, which applies to student visas, specifies that you must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance whilst you are in Australia.

Minimum acceptable policies are specified for each visa class (where applicable), and you must ensure that you provide evidence to demonstrate you meet this requirement before a visa will be granted. For some visa classes, specific types of health policies only are accepted (e.g. if you are applying for a student visa, you must be covered by Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)). The policy cover will need to be valid for a certain period to meet these requirements. Members of your family unit must also be covered by appropriate health insurance.

Some countries have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, meaning that you are entitled to Medicare benefits in Australia. This may be acceptable to satisfy minimum health insurance requirements in specified circumstances.

For up to date advice on the subsequent temporary application charge and how it applies to your personal situation, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide, and we aren’t expensive! Just ask us!