This is the first in a new series of posts examining the health requirements for long-term visas in different countries. This week we will look at Australia, a regular competitor in top expat destination polls.
Anyone thinking of moving to Australia will be aware of the strict visa requirements. Australia enjoys high standards of health care, and in order to maintain this quality, most visa applicants will have to pass some type of health exam.
Threats to public health
In order to obtain an Australian visa, or in some cases even to travel to Australia, you must be free of the following diseases, considered “threats to public health”:
Those applying for a permanent visa will be tested for active TB (the most infectious form of the disease). This is done by performing a chest X-ray, for children under 11 will undergo a full medical exam instead of an X-ray.
If you’re applying for a temporary visa TB checks will be carried out according to your country of origin and the risk of TB there.
If you’re found to have TB you will not be granted a visa until you’ve undergone treatment and been assessed by a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC).
HIV and hepatitis
You will be required to undergo HIV testing if:
- You are over 15 and applying for a permanent visa
- You are applying for a temporary visa and you intend to work as or study to become a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic.
- You are under 15, applying for a permanent visa, and:
- Your biological mother is or was HIV positive
- You have a history of blood transfusions
- You are displaying symptoms of HIV
Hepatitis testing is compulsory for:
- Pregnant women
- Adoption visa applicants
- Unaccompanied refugee minors
- Temporary visa applicants intending to work as or study to become a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic.
HIV and hepatitis are not generally considered to be threats to public health. However, if you’re applying for a temporary visa and intend to work in a medical profession or have a viral load of a certain level, you may be considered a threat.
You will need to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever if you are travelling from a declared yellow fever infected country, and are over one year of age.
Health care and community service costs
This requirement is designed to protect the health care system from significant costs and prevent additional stress being put of health care and community services which are in short supply.
For visa applicants who have a medical condition an MOC will need to evaluate the condition and decide whether the condition:
- will result in significant costs to health care and community services.
- will require the use of services which as in short supply.
The MOC is not allowed to take into account non-medical individual circumstances. For example, they cannot base their decision on the fact you have private health insurance so won’t use public facilities, or you have a large amount of savings.
If you have a chronic condition where the course of the disease is reasonably predictable the MOC will estimate the costs over your remaining expected life expectancy. So, if you have a serious health condition you may meet the requirements for a temporary visa, but not a permanent one.
Common health related refusals
No disease or illness automatically results in a visa refusal on significant cost grounds. The most common diseases to result in a failure of the health requirements are:
- intellectual impairment
- renal failure or disease
If the MOC assesses you as unable to meet the health requirements on grounds of cost you will be refused a visa, unless a health waiver is available.
Health services in short supply
Those health services which are considered to be in short supply are:
- organ transplants
- blood/plasma products
- blood for rare blood groups
- radiotherapy for malignant cancers
If you are assessed as likely to need a service which is considered to be in short supply, you are likely to be refused a visa, unless a health waiver is available.
For detailed information on health requirements for Australian visas check the Australian Department of Immigration website.