28 January 2010

Migrants with HIV/AIDS will be allowed to emigrate to Australia

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The Australian Immigration Department is loosening the tight health rules for migrants to alleviate the skills shortage, allowing chronically ill foreign workers and families to immigrate.

Australian immigration

Health rules for highly skilled migrants may be waived under a new loosening of the system by Australian Immigration.

The department is widening a loophole that lets it waive the health requirement for some sick dependants of Australian citizens, including those with HIV/AIDS.

Most of the 288 waivers granted last year were for the foreign partners of Australian citizens.

The Federal Government is hoping the widening of the health loophole will lure skilled migrants, who otherwise would not have been granted an Australian Visa on the health criteria.

The Australian Immigration department plans to extend the waivers to workers seeking permanent residency, and those who have set up businesses in Australia.

New South Wales, the most popular destination for new migrants to Australia, has not yet signed the change, which requires state and territory agreement because of the impact on their hospital systems.

Departmental data shows that 42 health waivers were granted to foreign workers on temporary skilled visas during 2008-09.

Health bans were lifted last financial year for 138 temporary immigrants seeking to remain in Australia, which cost taxpayers $19.5m in health and community services. Another 150 immigrants who applied offshore were granted waivers, at an estimated cost of $38.2m.

HIV was the most common health condition, with 59 cases at a cost of $14 million, followed by 26 cases of intellectual impairment at a cost of $1.2m, and 10 cases of cancer, at a cost of $751,500.

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