What is the health requirement for Australian visa applicants and how could it affect you?

In simple terms it’s the controversial requirement which is often the one thing standing between many migrant families and permanent residency in Australia.

I have handled several cases where clients have gone through the whole process and paid exorbitant amounts of money, only to have their applications refused for failed medical tests – with no refund for the costs.

How does the medical examination work?

The immigration health requirement is set out in the Migration Regulations 1994, under Schedule 4’s Public Interest Criteria.

According to the government, the requirement has three main objectives:

(a) to protect Australians from “public health and safety risks” such as infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis;

(b) to safeguard access for Australians to medical services that are in short supply, such as organ transplants; and

(c) limit the amount of money the government has to spend on health and community services.

It’s this cost requirement that has come under fire from advocates, with many claiming it unfairly targets those living with a permanent disability - I have had a case with this exact issue.

Practically,if the cost of a disability or medical condition is judged by a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) to be higher than this threshold, then the applicant with the disability or medical condition will not pass the requirement.

Currently, the ‘significant cost threshold’ is $40,000 over 5 years. The exception to this is people with a condition or disability which is likely to be permanent. In these cases, the cost will be calculated over the applicant’s remaining life expectancy making it almost impossible to pass in such cases.

This is because in terms of the hypothetical person test, a wide variety of services go towards the total cost tally. For someone with a hearing impairment, it might include speech therapy, MRI scans, education services and cochlear implants.

It doesn’t matter whether the applicant actually intends to access these services.

Who does it apply to?

Nearly everyone applying for a visa to visit or live in Australia will need to meet the health requirement, with many needing to undergo a physical health assessment depending on the purpose of the visit, visa type and length of stay. Those applying for a permanent visa must undergo a medical examination prior to being approved for a visa which includes blood tests, chest x-rays and a comprehensive medical questionnaire.

However, if one member of a family unit applying for a visa fails to meet the health requirement, all other family members will also have their visa rejected. People suffering from tuberculosis are explicitly barred in immigration law from obtaining an Australian visa and there are no exceptions to this.

I believe it’s high time that Australia reforms its medical test requirements but in the meantime if you have any concerns about the medical exam I strongly recommend that get you in touch with us at info@pathwaylawyers.com to advise you in that regard – before you lose your money as well - David Dadic