At Freedom Migration we are often asked about health checks and health waivers for partner visa applications and what impact a health condition might have on the outcome of a partner visa application.
In short, the impact a health condition might have on your partner visa will all depend on what the health condition is. Some health conditions will cause no issue at all for your partner visa and you will pass the visa medical with ‘flying colours’. If on the other hand, your condition results in you not passing the visa medical then you may risk your partner visa being refused.
If you fail the visa medical, there is potential for Immigration to still grant your partner visa. For this to happen Immigration would need to ‘waive’ the health requirement.
To make this easier to get your head around I have broken the whole ‘partner visa’ and ‘visa medical’ into a couple of different sections based on the questions we frequently receive about this topic. The main thing to take away is to not get totally freaked out by the visa medical, if you were to ‘fail’ you may still have a shot at your partner visa being granted via a health waiver.
People who want to migrate to Australia both temporarily or permanently must, by law, satisfy certain health requirements. The type of health check that needs to be carried out varies from visa to visa, as well as other factors including age, countries visited and intended activities in Australia.
The purpose of the health requirement is to protect the Australian community from public health risks, contain public spending on health care and community services and to safeguard the access of Australian citizens and permanent residents to health care and community services where those services are in short supply.
In other words it allows the Department of Immigration to control the granting of a visa to someone that would potentially result in letting someone into the country who may have a condition that is infectious and may put the Australian community at risk, or cost the Australian government a significant amount of money in treatment or potentially result in ‘a longer queue’ for access to treatments that have a long wait list.
There are a variety of tests that can be requested such as chest x-rays, Hepatitis B & C tests, HIV test and other tests requested by the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC).
For visa and migration purposes, all medical examinations conducted inside Australia are currently conducted by Bupa Medical Visa Services or an agent of BUPA.
On the other hand, medical examinations conducted outside Australia are to be conducted by a Panel Doctor appointed by the Australian Government. Most countries will have a list of approved doctors who can conduct the health check.
If you or your partner are pregnant at the time the health check is required then the Department does not recommend that a pregnant visa applicant undergoes a chest x-ray. This is because there is a risk that a chest x-ray could harm the unborn child. It is recommended that a pregnant visa applicant defers her chest x-ray, and therefore the decision on her visa application, until after the child’s birth. If in doubt, seek advice from your General Practitioner.
If the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (“MOC”) deems that your condition would result in any of the following, you are likely to fail the visa medical requirement;
During the process of your medical examination, the MOC and/or Panel Doctor may request further information from your treating specialist where you do have a medical condition or disease. After considering the information provided by your specialist, the MOC/Panel Doctor will make their final decision and notify the Department of Immigration & Border Protection.
All permanent and provisional visas, if the visa applicant is 15 years of age or older require a HIV test.
It’s also important to note that Temporary Visas such as a tourist visa (Subclass 600) do not normally require visa applicants to undergo an HIV test unless the person intends to work/study to become a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic in Australia.
As the Visa Applicant, if you are found to be HIV positive you are unlikely to pass the health criteria, but you may still be able to be granted an Australian Partner Visa if the Department of Immigration waive the health criteria.
Where HIV is concerned the visa applicant is usually deemed to not meet the health criteria requirements because of the ‘significant costs’ associated with the long-term treatment of HIV specifically in pharmaceuticals (medication) and community services (doctors/specialists).
In the case of HIV, if you can show that despite the significant costs required for your ongoing treatment the cost is ‘undue’. Another way of explaining this is that despite the significant cost there is a moral obligation to waive the health criteria and grant the partner visa.
The circumstances that may justify a waiver of the health criteria include compelling and compassionate circumstances, whether the visa applicant can mitigate the cost and or prejudice to Australian citizen/permanent resident access to health care.
When you complete your visa medical and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is made aware of you not meeting the health criteria, they will write to you, giving you the opportunity to present your circumstances for Immigration to then, in turn, consider whether or not they warrant a waiver of the need to meet the health criteria. This is what we refer to as a “Health Waiver” request.
Even if you are planning on requesting a waiver of the health criteria, you will nonetheless still be required to undertake all required medical examinations for the visa (including HIV testing).
A health waiver for a partner visa is a complex issue and it is strongly advised that you seek professional advice from a Registered Migration Agent experienced in Health Waiver matters BEFORE proceeding. Freedom Migration works closely with community centres that support people who are HIV Positive.
If you need help with a health waiver then give the office a call on +61 (07) 3063 1200 if you have another question check out our Partner Visa FAQ PageFind out how we can help!
IMPORTANT: Please note, this does not constitute Immigration advice. Always seek advice from a Registered Migration Agent before applying for an Australian Visa. Migration Law is constantly changing. This information is accurate only at the time of publication.
Emma is the founder and principal migration agent at Freedom Migration. She is extremely passionate about uniting partners and families with their loved ones overseas. It might be because she's a product of a partner visa family.
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