Health requirement for an Australian visa
It is a very less known fact that the immigration health requirement even exists. It is seen that in many high profile cases, families fail to fulfil the requirement due to their child’s disability, now they are raising their voice with advocates and politicians calling for its urgent reformation.
If Greens senator and disability advocate Jordon John-Steele gets re-elected this weekend then one of his initial moves would be to introduce legislation addressing the issue.
How does it work?
The immigration health requirement is set out in the Migration Regulations 1994, under Schedule 4’s Public Interest Criteria.
The three main objectives of the requirements are :
- protect their citizens from infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis
- safeguard the access to medical services that are in short supply like the organ transplants
- control the amount of money that the government spends on the health and community services.
The current guidelines say “important for Australia and the continuation of visa programs that public health risks and health costs are not unduly increased by travellers and migrants”. It is an unfair policy for a person who is living with a permanent disability.If Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) judges the cost of a disability or medical condition and finds out it to be higher than this threshold, then the applicant with the disability or medical condition will not qualify the requirement. At present, the ‘significant cost threshold’ is $40,000. If you applying for a temporary visa, cost of services is calculated on the bases of a period of stay, like if a student visa applicant has medical costs of $12,000 approximately per year and also wants to stay in Australia for four years, they will not fulfil the requirement.For permanent visa applicants who are under the age of 75, the cost is calculated on how much services would cost in a five-year period, whereas those who are over the age of 75 the cost calculated over three years. While in the case of permanent disability the cost is calculated on the bases on the applicants remaining life expectancy. The cost calculations for a disabled one includes access to the Disability Support Pension, mobility and pharmaceutical allowances, among many other things. While for someone with hearing impairment, it includes speech therapy, MRI scans, education services and cochlear implants.
Who does it apply to?
The one who has a desire to either visit or live in Australia needs to meet this health requirement. If you are applying for a permanent visa then you must have to undergo a medical examination prior to being approved for a visa while Temporary visa applications will undergo an examination, depending on their purpose of going to Australia as well as the duration of their stay.
It should be noted that if one of the members of a family fails to meet the health requirement then the visa of the whole family will get rejected.
What is a health waiver?
If one fails to meet the health requirement then in some of the cases a health waiver is available depending on the visa class. Visa classes that may be eligible for a health waiver are those to which Public Interest Objective 4007 applies. These include refugee and humanitarian visas, certain skilled and business visas, foreign affairs or defence sector student visas and the temporary skilled shortage visa. Heath waiver is only available in the case it one satisfies all the conditions.In the case, if the health waiver is not available and all appeals have been exhausted, the only option left is ministerial intervention.Under the Migration Act 1958, the immigration minister has the power to overturn a decision to reject a visa application if they believe it is in the public interest to do so.Only the cases that exhibit “unique and exceptional circumstances” will get referred to the minister.
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