Understanding immigration health changes for 20 November 2015

There are a number of changes being implemented by the Department, which impact immigration health policy and processing arrangements from 20 November 2015 onwards. These include:

  • a new ‘health matrix’ – that is, changes to the health examinations that temporary visa applicants are required to complete
  • new tuberculosis (TB) testing arrangements for certain child visa applicants
  • a new list of health services that are considered to be ‘in short supply’ and hence might impact your ability to meet the health requirement if you require these services
    and
  • changes to arrangements in terms of re-use of existing health examination results.

More detail about each of these changes is provided below to help you assess how they might impact you.

Changes to required health examinations

A new ‘health matrix’ will be in place. This will change which health examinations you are required to complete if you are applying for a  temporary visa. 

The examinations you are required to undertake will depend on how long you intend to stay in Australia, the ‘risk level’ of your country of citizenship and what activities you intend to undertake while in Australia.

The new matrix will be available on the Health Examinations webpage.

These new arrangements are designed to ensure that Australia’s immigration health screening remains appropriately targeted – with the Australian community effectively protected against risks to public health but visa applicants not required to complete unnecessary health examinations where considered to be ‘lower risk’ from a health perspective.

New tuberculosis (TB) testing arrangements for children

From 20 November 2015, children who are aged 2 and over and under 11 years of age will need to complete an additional TB screening test if they fit into one of the categories below:

  • are applying for an offshore humanitarian or onshore protection visa
  • are ‘higher risk’ and applying for a permanent or provisional visa
    or
  • declare previous household contact with TB.

This means that where applicable your child will need to complete either a Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) or an Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) test.
Note:
If you are completing this test with Bupa Medical Visa Services they will arrange for your child to undergo a type of IGRA test called QuaniFERON-Gold (QFN).

If the results of this TB test are negative, no further testing will be required. If the result is positive, your child will be required to undergo further chest x-ray examinations.

Note: this does not mean that your child is currently sick, however, they may have latent TB infection. If so, this should be determined so that they can be treated if required.

These new arrangements are designed to improve public health protections in Australia but also contribute to global efforts to eliminate TB, which remains a significant global health problem, particularly in developing countries.

Who do the new rules apply to?

The new ‘heath matrix’ will apply if you lodge your visa application after 20 November 2015.

It wll also apply to some applications lodged before 20 November 2015 as outlined below:

Status of health case Which rules apply

 

How will I know what examinations are required?

You have not yet been requested to complete health examinations

New ‘health matrix’ rules apply

 

Your required examinations will be listed on the Health Examinations List letter sent to you by your case officer or on your eMedical referral letter that you can download from ImmiAccount.

 

Examinations have been requested but you have not yet attended your medical appointment

New ‘health matrix’ rules apply

 

Your panel clinic and/or Bupa Medical Visa Services clinic will add any additional examinations where required.

 

Your examinations are in progress
or
have already been completed

Old rules apply unless additional examinations are required for other reasons (e.g. your health clearance expires and you need to repeat health)

 

No further health examinations are required unless your visa officer advises otherwise (e.g. because your health clearance expires and you need to repeat health)

 

Note: Please be aware that Bupa Medical Visa Services or a panel clinic can always add additional health examinations where required for clinical reasons.

Changes to list of services in short supply

Visa applicants may fail to meet the health requirement if they are identified as requiring health services that are considered to be in short supply and hence may result in ‘prejudice to access’ for Australian citizen and permanent residents if a visa were to be granted.

From 20 November 2015, only two services will remain on this list – that is:

  • dialysis
  • organ transplants.

Changes to re-use of previous health arrangements

As per current arrangements, when applying for a new visa application, you might be able to
re-use the health examination reports or health clearance you used for your current visa to show that you meet the health requirement for a new visa application. This is at the discretion of your visa case officer and will depend on how long processing of your visa application may take.

DIBP has, however, changed its policy in terms of when you can re-use existing health examination reports – that is, where you can re-use a particular exam (such as a chest x-ray examination) and simply complete any ‘extra examinations’ required for your new visa application.

From 20 November 2015, individual examinations will be available for re-use if they:

  • are still valid
  • were completed electronically via the eMedical system
    and
  • are not a medical examination (501).

This means that, for example, if you completed an x-ray examination for your temporary visa application and are now applying for a permanent visa application, you won’t need to repeat the x-ray as long as it was completed electronically and still valid.
You will just need to complete the medical examination and an HIV test (if you are aged over 15). The examination report for the chest x-ray that you have already completed will be ‘copied’ in to your new health case in eMedical so that it can be considered by the panel or Bupa Medical Visa Services clinic that you attend to complete any outstanding health examinations.

Note: where you lodge an online visa application, the system will now determine automatically whether you can re-use any individual health examination reports.

Further information about re-use is available on the Assessment of health examination results.