What is the change? Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced a number of changes to its immigration health requirements.

What does the change mean? Australia will begin using a new health matrix that divides countries into two groups: those that generally do not require immigration health examinations and those that do. Applicants from countries that generally require health examinations will have to undergo a medical examination and chest x-ray for stays in Australia of six months or longer. Subclass 457 visa applicants will be treated the same as other temporary visa applicants, and will no longer be eligible for eased health processing.

  • Implementation timeframe: 20 November.
  • Visas/permits affected: Any visa for which a health examination is required, including Subclass 457 and other temporary visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals applying for Australian visas.
  • Impact on processing times: The changes will increase the overall processing time for some applicants who will be required to undergo health examinations for stays of six months or more. The elimination of health concessions in the 457 programme may also extend the visa application process in some instances.
  • Business impact: Employers may need to adjust timelines or start dates for foreign nationals who will be affected by the changes.
  • Next steps: A new Health Policy Advice Manual will be released on 20 November.

Background: The new rules will replace Australia’s current programme of classifying countries as low, medium, or high risk.

Instead, nationals of more than 100 countries will generally not be required to undergo health examinations except when applying for permanent stay or when a special circumstance applies. All other nationals will be required to undergo a medical examination and chest x-ray for stays of six months or more, whether or not a special circumstance applies. Canada, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States are among those on the list of “safe” countries. Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and South Africa are among those not on the list.

Foreign nationals exposed to certain situations will be required to undergo specified medical screening or tests regardless of nationality. Such situations include those where the foreign national is likely to work at a childcare centre; intends to work as, or be trained to be, a doctor, dentist, nurse or paramedic; is likely to enter a heath care facility from a higher risk country; is pregnant and intends to give birth in Australia; or is 75 or older (only applicable to Subclass 600 and 676 visa applicants).

Under the new rules, Subclass 457 applicants will be treated the same as other visa applicants. Currently, Subclass 457 visa applicants from high-risk countries are not necessarily required to undergo a medical examination in addition to a chest x-ray examination (depending on individual circumstances). Beginning 20 November, both a medical examination and chest x-ray will be required from nationals who are not on the list of countries deemed safe for health purposes.

A full report on the changes to immigration health requirements is available here.

BAL Analysis: Employers and foreign nationals applying for Australian visas should familiarise themselves with the new rules. The changes affect not only those who lodge applications after 20 November, but also those who lodged applications prior to 20 November but who have not yet undergone medical exams. The changes may inconvenience some applicants, as more thorough examinations will be required from applicants from certain countries.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

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