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Can an Australian visa be rejected due to medical reasons?

Australian Migration Lawyer
February 9, 2024
minute read

Below we outline what you can expect when it comes to all things Medical and Visas. If you’re unsure about your situation, give us a call at Australian Migration Lawyers and we can do our best to assist you in whatever way we can.

What is the medical examination process?

Most Australian visa applications must undergo a mandatory medical examination as a part of their visa application process. The examination typically includes a physical assessment, medical history review, and may involve specific tests depending on the type of visa being sought.

The outcome of your health examination plays a pivotal role in determining the success or potential refusal of your visa application. If you have a medical condition that is likely to result in significant costs to the Australian community or prejudice the access of Australian citizens and permanent residents to health care or community services, your visa application may be refused. Similarly, if you have a medical condition that is considered to be a threat to public health or safety, your visa application may also be refused.

Assessment of medical conditions by the Department of Home Affairs

Once you have completed your medical examination, the examining panel physician records the results and provides a recommendation regarding your health status to the immigration authorities. The examination results and recommendation are then submitted to immigration authorities for assessment. At this stage, you will either be deemed to meet the health requirement, or your case will be referred to a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) for their expert opinion. The MOC may request additional information from you or recommend further health examinations as part of the assessment process. The MOC will then advise the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) whether:

  • You meet the health requirement;
  • You will meet the health requirement only upon signing a health undertaking;
  • You do not meet the health requirement, but a health waiver may be available; or
  • You do not meet the health requirement, and no health waiver is available.


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If you are interested in getting more information about a visa, get in touch with Australian Migration Lawyers for a consultation.


Common medical conditions leading to visa rejections

The only medical condition which will automatically result in a visa rejection is active tuberculosis. If you have active tuberculosis, you will not be granted a visa until you have received treatment and a MOC has found you are free of it. Every other condition detected during medical examinations or disclosed in the application will be assessed individually. The evaluation considers the potential impact on the Australian community, including associated treatment or support costs for the specific condition.

However, while not all health conditions automatically result in visa rejections, some may pose challenges. Common medical conditions leading to visa rejection include:

  • Tuberculosis (TB): This infectious disease is a significant concern. If the applicant is diagnosed with active TB during the medical examination, the visa will likely be refused until the applicant completes the treatment.
  • HIV and hepatitis: While HIV or hepatitis are generally not perceived as threats to public health, if you possess either condition and apply for a temporary visa, it may deem it a potential threat to public health, especially if your intended profession is in the medical field—such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or paramedic in Australia.
  • Intellectual impairment;
  • Renal disease or failure;
  • Cancer: A recent diagnosis or ongoing treatment of certain cancers might affect visa approval, especially if the treatment is expected to strain public health resources; and
  • Mental Health Conditions: While not an automatic ground for rejection, certain severe mental health issues might be a concern if they are determined to result in significant healthcare and community service expenses.

If you have a diagnosis which corresponds with any of the conditions listed above, there's no need to worry, as no condition (bar active tuberculosis) is inherently disqualifying. In any event, there are alternative options which may be available to you, such as health waivers and health undertakings.

Health undertaking

If your health examination revealed an exposure to tuberculosis or another health condition of concern, you may be requested to sign a health undertaking. A health undertaking is an agreement with the Australian Government whereby you agree to attend a health clinic in Australia to follow up on your condition and complete any further investigation or course of treatment required.

As part of the arrangement, you must get in touch with Bupa Medical Visa Services within 28 days of arriving in Australia. The visa will only be granted upon signing the health undertaking, and by doing so, the Department will confirm your compliance with the health requirement.

Health Waiver

Certain visa subclasses allow for the consideration of a health waiver if an applicant doesn’t meet the health requirement.  A Health Waiver may be exercised if the applicant can demonstrate that granting the visa would not lead to significant health care and community service cost to the Australian community or prejudice the access of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to healthcare or community services which are in short supply. However, health waivers are not available to applicants who have active tuberculosis or another condition which poses a threat to public health in Australia.

You do not need to apply for a health waiver, in the event that you do not meet the health requirement and a health waiver is applicable to your visa subclass, your visa processing officer will contact you to notify you of the available option and request additional information.  You will be asked to provide additional details about why a health waiver should be exercised and complete a formal submission template, explaining to the Department of Home Affairs why they should exercise a health waiver.

Each health waiver is evaluated on an individual basis, taking into account various factors, such as:

  • The potential for you or your family members to mitigate the associated costs of your health condition and reduce reliance on healthcare and community services.
  • Any compassionate and compelling circumstances that advocate for the exercise of a health waiver in your specific case.

So your visa was rejected due to health reasons? Here are your next steps

If DOHA denies your visa application due to health reasons, you have the option to seek a review of the decision by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Your visa decision letter will outline whether the AAT is eligible to review the refusal decision and specify the time limit for submitting a review application. If the AAT is not able to conduct the review, an alternative recourse is to file an appeal with the Federal Court of Australia.

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