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AUSTRALIA – Changes to Immigration Health Policy

Effective 20 November 2015, a new health policy will apply to applicants for Australian visas.

What has changed?

  • Under the new policy, an individual’s country of origin will have one of only two risk levels (requiring health examinations or not) rather than one of the three categories (high, medium and low risk) in use until now.
  • For nationals and recent residents of higher-risk countries, the duration of stay from which a medical assessment is required has been raised from three months to six months.
  • Under the new policy, applicants for Subclass 457 visas will be treated the same as other temporary visa applicants. Previously they only had to undergo a chest x-ray examination, and were exempted from the general medical examination requirement for stays of over 12 months.

Countries that do not generally require Immigration Health Examinations

Applicants from countries of lower risk who are applying for temporary visas will generally not be required to undertake health examinations. Permanent stay applications will, however, require various health examinations.

Countries that do require Immigration Health Examinations

Stays of under six months

No medical assessments will be required for individuals who are applying for a temporary visa and intend to remain in Australia for less than six months, even if they are a national of a higher risk country, or have spent three or more consecutive months during the last five years in a higher risk country.

Stays of six months or over

Nationals or recent residents of higher risk countries will be required to undergo a medical examination and a chest x-ray If they are applying for a temporary visa but intending to remain in Australia for six months or longer.

Other requirements

TB testing for children

Under the new policy, children under 11 years of age who are applying for a temporary visa and declare close family contact with TB in their visa application or My Health Declarations form will have to undergo TB testing (TST or IGRA).

Previously this was not a requirement.

Additional health examinations

Additional health examinations will be required in instances where the “special significance” rule applies. This rule applies to individuals from any country who are intending to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse or paramedic, likely to work at an Australian Childcare centre, likely to enter a health care or hospital environment, are pregnant and intending to have their baby in Australia, or are aged 75 years and older.

From 20 November, special significance no longer applies to individuals who have applied for a student visa and/or are likely to be in a “classroom situation” for more than three months.

Provisional or permanent visas

The current health requirements will continue to apply to all individuals who are applying for provisional and permanent visas with the exception of the introduction of a new TB screening test (TST or IGRA) requirement for children aged between 2 and 10 years from countries of higher risk.

Action Items

  • Check the list of low-risk countries in Schedule 1 here to determine whether applicants for Australian temporary visas will require a medical assessment.
  • Note that the new policy will apply to applicants who applied before 20 November 2015, but who haven’t yet commenced their medical examinations.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Hamilton Watts Migration Services and Visa Executive.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.