21 May 2012

Australia visa health restrictions to be eased

The threshold placed on medical costs to Australia visa applicants is to be increased for the first time in a decade in an effort to reduce perceived discrimination against disability.

Australia visa

The Significant Cost Threshold is to be increased for the first time in a decade.

Health grounds are second only to security concerns in the rate of rejection for Australia visa applications. An applicant can have their application rejected if the cost of any potential treatment they may need exceeds AU$21,000 (£13,000) over five years, three years for applicants aged 75 or over.

Records show that 599 potential migrants were denied a visa on health grounds between 2010 and 2011, of these, almost 400 were denied due to the potential cost of treatment.

The AU$21,000 threshold is intended to determine whether an applicant will be a burden on Australian resources, or whether they could prevent an Australian citizen from receiving potentially lifesaving treatment or transplants.

Applicants whose medical conditions could prevent them from receiving a visa include those with HIV, cancer or a heart condition while there are also several cases of applicants with a mental illness and even epilepsy who have been denied a visa.

The threshold, known as the Significant Cost Threshold, has remained at its current level for over 10 years despite an external review being commissioned by the Australian immigration department in 2010.

However, the review's findings had remained confidential while the call for reform grew more vocal in recent months until finally, an immigration department spokesperson confirmed that the review found the threshold was indeed too low and will be raised.

The threshold will reportedly increased to AU$35,000 (£21,794) as of 1, July this year in a move that Labor MP Michael Danby said was a move away from "old fashioned approaches to disability in particular".

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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