All Australian visas have a requirement that the applicant meet certain health criteria. These medicals are mandatory for the purposes of a Partner visa.
If you fail to meet the health requirement, your visa may be refused.
When might you fail the health test?
You might fail to meet the health requirement if you have a disease or condition (such as tuberculosis) that is, or may be:
- A threat to public health in Australia;
- A danger to the Australian community;
- Requires, or might require health care or community services (even if you have no intention of using such services*);
- Result in a significant cost** to the Australian community in the areas of health care and community services; or
- Prejudice the access of Australian citizens or permanent residents to health care or community services.
For some visas, if an applicant or members of the applicant’s family unit fails the health test then it will be “one fails, all fails”.
*Australia has a national health insurance and benefits schemes, including income support, nursing home entitlements and other allowances. Once there is an entitlement based on need, the support cannot be denied to an Australian resident or citizen. For this reason, even if you have private health insurance for your condition, you will be assessed against the standard accepted medical practice available across Australia for that condition.
**When determining if you meet the health requirement, a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) considers whether you have a health condition that will be a significant cost to the Australian community in terms of the health care or community service required to manage your condition.
The Department use per capita data about health and community service costs to work out what your condition is likely to cost over a period of time. For permanent visa applicants this is generally 5 years.
Having a disease or health condition does not always mean you will not meet the health requirement due to significant costs. The likely costs will depend on what kind of disease or condition you have and how severe it is.
The Department will not grant you a visa if you do not meet the health requirement because your condition is likely to be a significant cost, unless a health waiver is available and exercised.
The Department regard costs of AUD49,000 or more to be significant.
The 5 most conditions most commonly identified as affecting permanent visa applicants who have failed the health requirement are:
- intellectual impairment
- HI infection
- functional impairment
- renal disease or failure
In very limited circumstances, the health criteria can be waived.
In order for the health criteria to be waived, it is necessary to satisfy the Department that the granting of the visa would be unlikely to result in undue costs or to prejudice access to community health services.
If you are concerned that you have circumstances which may impede your ability to meet the health criteria, or have received an invitation from the Department to comment regarding health issues that may affect the outcome your application, get professional assistance immediately.
The Department can take into account a broad range of discretionary factors in determining whether costs or prejudice to access are ‘undue’, including your capacity to mitigate costs associated with your condition, as well as any compelling and compassionate circumstances such as family ties to Australia.
What is the process of applying for a Health Waiver?
During the processing period the applicant will be required to undertake medicals. Once the results are available, if the applicant has failed the health test, the applicant will receive a letter from the immigration department to furnish additional information and explain why a health waiver should be granted to the applicant.
The visa applicant must fill out the details in a formal submission document claiming the waiver on equitable grounds.
The department scrutinises the claim on below-mentioned factors
- Whether the applicant can handle the resultant expenses
- Whether the applicant’s sponsor can cover the expenses
- Whether and how much the applicant may utilize the country’s health care system and community services if granted the visa
- Whether there are any compelling or compassionate reasons to consider the waiver
- The advantages the applicant or the sponsor may bring to the Australian economy and the community
- The disadvantages of visa refusal to the applicant or the sponsor, the Australian economy and the community
Based on the above parameters the waiver is allowed or denied.
Every health waiver case gets scrutinised on a case-to-case basis. The process takes considerable time before the authorities decide after weighing pros and cons of granting a health waiver to the applicant.
If the authorities deny the health waiver, the visa application gets rejected automatically and communicated to the applicant accordingly.
However, if the cost of treating or taking care of the health condition amounts to AUD 500,000 or more or the case demonstrates to burden the health care and community services, the case officer must recommend the case to the National office in Canberra.
For a partner visa along with the criteria of the cost of utilising the public health services, these below-mentioned factors are considered as significant too:
- The closeness and affection in the relationship and the hardship the partners may face if not granted the visa
- The possibility of why the Australian partner cannot join the foreign partner because visa rejection
- If the decision may affect the children adversely (if any)
- The location and other circumstances of the partners
What should an applicant do to strengthen his/her case for a waiver?
- Provide as many details as possible to see the case on a compassionate ground
- Assure the agency that he/she will not be burdening the Australian community and the public health system
- Provide evidence that they can take care of their medical costs either individually or through the sponsor (who is a partner)
Health waivers can be tricky and failing to provide detailed or adequate information may result in a missed opportunity. We’ll help you every step of the way, from deciding on whether a health waiver may be applicable, through to preparing documentation and lodging your health waiver and helping you meet all the other criteria.
If you need a health waiver simply dial (07) 3194 9152 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to know your options and chances of getting a health waiver for you or your dependent.