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Health Requirement

Your Australian Partner – can they sponsor you?

A health clearance is a necessary prerequisite to get a partner visa. In order to get this clearance you, and anyone else migrating with you has to complete a health examination.

Who has to do a health examination?

You, the person applying for the partner visa has to do the health   examination. Any of your family members migrating with you to Australia also have to do the health examination.

In some cases, the case officer assessing your partner visa application may request that a family member who is not migrating to Australia with you also undertake a health examination. This will occur if the case officer suspects that you may want to bring this family member to Australia at a later date, for example, if you leave a child with a grandparent in your own country.

Why is there a health examination?

On one level it is to protect the population of Australia from any serious diseases being transmitted, such as tuberculosis. On another level, it is to prevent the grant of a partner visa to someone who has a condition that may require a considerable level of health care.

The Immigration Department basically undertakes an economic assessment of the identified condition looking at the expenses associated with managing this condition over the longer term. If the costs are considered significant, you will fail the health examination.

You can also fail the health examination if your condition is one that requires access to resources that are in short supply, such as an organ transplant.

The general idea behind this economic assessment is to ensure that Australia’s largely subsidised and very affordable public health care system is not overly burdened as a consequence of granting visas to people whose conditions are expensive to treat.

One fails All Fail

If you or any family member fail the health examination, you will all fail the health examination. This is referred to in Australia’ s migration terminology as the ‘one fails, all fail’ rule. For example, if you pass the health examination but one of your children fail, then you will fail too.

Significant Costs

If a health condition is identified during the health examination, your case will be referred to a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) – a medical practitioner appointed by the immigration Department to provide an opinion on likely costs.

In addition to actual health care costs, costs associated with supporting the person through community care services such as social security (welfare) benefits, special education and home care are also considered.

These costs are estimated over a certain time period for partner visa applicants. At the time of writing, the medical practitioner will assess likely costs of the condition over a 5 year period, unless the person is over 75 years old.

If the applicant or family member has a permanent condition and it is reasonable to assume the condition will continue beyond a 5 year period, the medical practitioner will assess likely costs of the condition over a 10 year the period.

Level of costs will be regarded as ‘significant’ if they are greater than AU $49,000, (at time of writing).

In this case, you or your family member, will fail to meet the health criteria because the condition is one that is likely to result in health care and community service costs that are regarded as ‘significant’.

If the condition requires access to organ transplants or dialysis, it is likely that you will also not meet the health criteria because the condition is one that will ‘prejudice the access of Australian citizens or permanent residents to such services’.

If the disease or condition is one that is dangerous to the population, such as tuberculosis, this will also result in a failure to meet the health criteria.

The health waiver

If you or a family member fail to meet the health criteria because you have a disease considered a threat to public health then the partner visa will be refused.

In circumstances where the issue is the significant costs of treating the condition, or the likelihood of you or a family member needing access to limited resources such as organ transplants, then there exists the possibility of a health waiver.

You will be contacted and informed that you have failed to meet the health criteria for the grant of the visa and provided an opportunity to respond with a submission accompanied by supporting evidence detailing why you should be granted the partner visa.

Each case is assessed on its merits but generally you will focus on compassionate and compelling circumstances that exist in your family situation and also on your ability to mitigate, or reduce, the estimated costs of managing the condition.

Compassionate and compelling circumstances include the effect of a visa refusal on the Australian sponsor and any Australian citizen children. Will the sponsor have to move to another country with you if you don’t get the visa? Do they have a health issue that will mean this move is problematic? Do they have their entire family in Australia and can they earn an income in the other country?

On the other hand, do you or your family member have highly sought after, specialized skills, that could benefit Australia, or are you qualified and skilled in an occupation where workers are in short supply.

In regard to the significant costs of the condition, do you or your family members have substantial assets or a substantial income that means you have a demonstrated capacity to pay for the expenses associated with the condition and you would therefore not need to rely on the public health system.

Any claim made in your submission would have to be supported by documentary evidence.
If you make claims that you cannot prove by referencing solid evidence then it is likely you would fail to get a health waiver.

It is important that you seek the assistance of migration agent or immigration lawyer when preparing a health waiver submission. There is a detailed list of factors that the case officer will take into account when evaluating your submission, and a registered migration agent or immigration will have access to this list and will be able to tailor your submission to address these factors.

If the health waiver is exercised, you will be granted the partner visa. If you fail to convince the case officer that there are good reasons to grant the visa even though you failed to meet the health requirement, then the visa will be refused.