Health issues


Australian visas & health criteria

Australian migration legislation requires that almost all applicants seeking a visa to travel to, or remain in, Australia must meet prescribed health criteria. These criteria are intended to protect the Australian community's standard of public health and safety, expenditure on health and welfare, and access to health services.

All permanent and certain temporary visa applicants are required to undergo health examinations as part of the visa application process to determine if they meet the health requirement.

In practical terms this means that a visa applicant must be free from a disease or condition that would require health care or community services that would result in a significant cost to the Australian community, or prejudice the access of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to health care or community services (regardless of whether the health care or community services will be used in connection with the applicant).

Health waivers available to certain visa classes

A health waiver is available to be considered for certain visas.  This is referred to by the Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP) as a PIC 4007 waiver.

Visas that have a health waiver available include partner, child, skilled independent subclass 189 (NZ stream only); subclass 888 (permanent) and ENS/RSMS visas but only for the temporary residence transition stream.

A health waiver may only be exercised after a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth has determined that the visa applicant does not meet the health requirement and where the DIBP is satisfied that the granting of the visa would be unlikely to result in:

  • undue costs or
  • further pressure on health care and community services that are in already short supply in Australia.  (This is referred to as 'prejudice to access'.)

Case study: medical condition estimated to cost $3.5 million over a lifetime

Putt Legal was approached some time ago by a client who had worked for a mining services company in Australia on a subclass 457 visa. The client was originally from Africa, and had a partner and several children.

After a number of years on the subclass 457, the family made an application for a permanent ENS temporary residence transition stream visa (subclass 186 visa). As noted above, this visa has a health waiver available.

One of the client’s children was diagnosed by a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth with a medical condition that was likely to require health or community services costing an estimated $3.5 million over the child’s lifetime.

The DIBP then considered whether to exercise the health waiver, but was not satisfied that the cost identified by the Medical Officer was outweighed by mitigating factors and/or compassionate and compelling circumstances. As a result, the subclass 186 visa application was refused for all family members (because if “one fails, all fail”). The family appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and engaged Putt Legal’s services.

Significant evidence was placed before the AAT that showed that the family had an ability to defray costs to the Australian community; considerable employment skills; had actively contributed to Australian society; and that there were compelling and compassionate circumstances that showed that the child affected by the medical condition would find it extremely difficult to return and live in the African country from which the family originally came. As a result, the AAT found that although the potential costs of the child’s medical condition were high, the granting of the visa was unlikely to result in undue costs to the Australian community when all circumstances were considered.

The AAT remitted the visa application to the DIBP for processing, and it is likely that all family members will be granted permanent residence in the near future.

If you or a family member have a medical condition that you are concerned may adversely affect a permanent or temporary visa application, we suggest that you contact us for a confidential discussion as to your options.


The Australian government has been urged to impose a more substantial visa fee on migrant families wanting to bring their elderly parents to Australia so that it reflects the subsequent drain on resources. 

The Productivity Commission, in its final report on migration intake released on Monday, said aged parents were unlikely to pay taxes or work but made considerable demands on the nation's health, aged care and social security system.

The report called on the Australian government to increase substantially the charge for contributory parent visas.

It also recommended narrowing eligibility for non-contributory parent visas to cases where there were strong compassionate grounds to do so.

The $50,000 contribution charge met only a fraction of the costs for the annual intake of about 7,200 contributory parents, the report said.

A further 1,500 parents make a minimal contribution.

The commission estimated the cumulative lifetime costs of a parent visa holder in 2015-16 was between $335,000 and $410,000.

The net liability to the Australian community resulting from the assistance required by the 8700 parents over their lifetime, ranged between $2.6 and $3.2 billion, the commission estimated.

"The case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak," the report said. 

In light of the report's findings, Alisdair Putt suggests that parents (or their children in Australia) who are considering a possible contributory parent visa application should contact us for information about the process sooner rather than later.

Apart from the potential increase to the visa application charge, our experience has shown that delay can sometimes result in applicants developing health issues that ultimately affect the prospects of a successful visa grant.

Source of information as to the Productivity Commission report: SBS News