Foreign nationals submitting Australian visa applications and those with pending applications where medical examinations have not been undertaken will be subject to new medical examination standards on or after November 20, 2015, according to announced changes by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Additionally, the streamlined health examination process for subclass 457 visa applicants will be eliminated on that date. Applicants will likely face longer visa processing times when the new requirements are implemented.
Implementation of health matrix
A new health matrix will be used to determine whether an applicant is subject to a medical examination based on the following factors:
• the applicant’s proposed length of stay in Australia;
• passport nationality or place of residence; and
• other risk factors such as pre-existing medical conditions or working in a health-related occupation.
Visa applicants from prescribed safe countries (including the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Greece and France, among others) will not be required to undertake medical assessments for any visas (with the exception of some provisional visas that provide a pathway to permanent residence), unless an additional risk factor applies.
Visa applicants whose country of citizenship is not a prescribed safe country (such as China, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Russia), or applicants who have spent three consecutive months or more in a country that is not a prescribed safe country, will generally be required to undertake a full medical examination for stays in Australia of six months or more. Previously, medical examinations were generally required for stays in Australia of twelve months or longer and countries were divided into three risk categories – low, medium and high risk.
Visa applicants seeking to stay in Australia for six months or less will not be required to undertake any medical assessments regardless of passport nationality, unless one of the risk factors applies.
New health exam rules for subclass 457 visa applicants
On or after November 20, 2015, foreign nationals from a prescribed safe country submitting subclass 457 visa applications and those with pending applications where medical examinations have not been undertaken as of that date will be subject to a full health examination, instead of the current requirement of a chest x-ray.
What this means for foreign nationals
Affected visa applicants will likely face delayed processing times, particularly applicants seeking to stay in Australia for six months or more and who are not from a prescribed safe country (or where a risk factor applies).