By Felix Carao
Australian health standards are some of the best in the world; people who plan to migrate permanently, or stay in Australia temporarily, must meet the health requirement indicated in the Migration Regulations.
The health requirement for visitors and migrants to Australia is intended to curtail risks to public health and safety of Australian residents. It is also devised to lessen public spending on health and community services and sustain access of Australian residents to these services. The health requirement applies to all applicants, whatever country they come from.
Permanent visa applicants, counting the main applicant, partner, and any dependants, must meet the health requirement, even if the applicant’s partner and dependants are not part of the visa application. They will be asked to go through a medical examination, an x-ray for 11 years of age or older and an HIV/AIDS test for 15 years of age or older. They will also have to undergo any additional tests required by the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC).
Temporary visa applicants may be required to go through a medical examination, chest x-ray and/or other tests depending on the duration of their stay in Australia, their planned activities in Australia, and other factors.
Only tuberculosis (TB) may disqualify an applicant from a visa grant as declared in migration legislation. However, in most cases, the applicant is given the chance to undergo treatment. After undergoing treatment and the x-ray shows evidence of inactive TB, the applicant may be required to sign an undertaking when the visa is granted. The undertaking is an agreement that the applicant will contact the Health Undertaking Service on a free call number upon arrival in Australia and will report for follow-up monitoring to a state or territory health authority.
On the other hand, even though health authorities do not consider hepatitis transmission from newly arrived migrants as high risk, screening for hepatitis is compulsory if the applicant is any of the following: pregnant, a child for adoption, an unaccompanied refugee minor child, a temporary visa applicant intending to work as, or to study to be, a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic in Australia. If the applicant is diagnosed with hepatitis, assessment of whether he/she meets the health requirement will be based on the same grounds as any other pre-existing medical condition, considering the cost of the condition to the Australian community for health care and community services. The applicant may also be required to sign an undertaking to report to the Health Undertaking Service and be referred to state or territory health authorities upon arrival in Australia.
A Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) will provide the department with estimation on whether the health requirement has been satisfied based on: the results of the medical examination(s) and x-ray(s), medical history, age and duration of intended stay in Australia, and other considerations. The officers deciding visa applications must accept the opinion of the MOC as stated in the Migration Regulations.
Some of the visa subclasses have a waiver component. In this case, visa applicants are still required to undergo their health examinations and be assessed against the health requirement. The waiver lets the visa decision-maker to waive the health requirement once the applicant has been assessed by a MOC if they are certain that a visa grant would not cause ‘undue’ health care or community services costs, or ‘undue’ prejudice to Australians’ access to such services. If the MOC is of the opinion that the applicant represents a risk to public health or safety in Australia, the waiver cannot be exercised.
Under the Migration Regulations, the application must be declined in case the applicant does not meet the health requirement and the waiver is unavailable or not exercised.
(Felix Carao is a Registered Migration Consultant (MARN 1069354), a Qualified Education Counselor (QEAC G028), and an Accredited Recruitment Professional (MRCSA 51889). For enquiries, call 0412 321 187, email email@example.com or visit www.allskills.com.au)