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Tuberculosis. Pulmonary Tuberculosis. TB. A nasty and debilitating bacterial infection which used to be the second largest cause of death in Australia before it was brought under control. It attacks the lungs, and can progress to other parts of the body. Untreated it is fatal. Australia now has one of the worlds lowest incidences of TB cases in the world, due to strict controls.

The Philippines by contrast has one of the highest incidences of TB infection in the population. This is why chest x-rays are required for tourist visas of 6 months or longer, and for all partner visa applications. Therefore this is an important issue for Down Under Visa clients. Having thousands of undiagnosed TB cases every year arriving in Australia would lead to a lot of suffering in the Australian community, and this is why they are so strict about this.

Britain London TB Van

What happens if Active TB is suspected by DIBP?

They won’t let the visa applicant into Australia unless the applicant is free of the disease!

This means that:

  • If the applicant has a visa already, they will be prevented from entering Australia, or
  • If the applicant is waiting on a visa grant, they will delay the visa grant until the applicant is free of the disease.

This is the chain of command:

  1. The doctor will identify suspected Active Tuberculosis infection from the x-ray results. This will go into the doctors report, which will be sent to the Global Health Unit (part of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) in Canberra.

Note that this means the doctor cannot give you permission to enter Australia. In fact they will not even give the results to you….or to us….or even to the Australian Embassy in Manila.

  1. The Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (in the Global Health Unit) will make a decision based on the results, but invariably they will:
  1. Ask the applicant to return to the same doctor for further tests
  2. Put a notice on the applicant’s file which will prevent them from entering Australia

The first notice of a problem will be an email to the Registered Migration Agent (or directly to the applicant if they are doing their own application) notifying us that there is an issue. We will forward these instructions on to the visa applicant and tell them to see the Panel Physician again.

What happens next?

This depends on the outcome!

The doctors will take further x-rays and will most likely ask for sputum samples so that the infection may be cultured and identified positively as Tuberculosis. If these results are not clear, they may ask the applicant to return again where this will be repeated to see if Active TB is present.

If there is NO evidence of Active Tuberculosis being present, then Global Health will advise the Embassy of this and the “ban” will be lifted.

But if there IS evidence of an Active TB infection, then the applicant will be required to undergo treatment under supervision of a specialist physician, whom the Panel Doctor will refer the applicant to. This will involve daily medication and possibly injections for 6 to 9 months. The treatment will continue until the applicant can be diagnosed as being free of the infection.

And please note that Global Health has one job to do, and it’s to ensure that visa applicants meet the health requirements for visas, and to keep out those who do not. They won’t hurry up, and they won’t keep you….or us….or even the Australian Embassy informed about what’s happening.

Will this affect the visa application? Will the visa be refused?

If all things go well, no this will not lead to a refusal. They will delay the decision until the applicant is free of the disease, then if everything else is OK with the application the visa will be granted.

However, you need to keep up the treatment, and keep in contact with the doctor! If you change your phone number, or fail to turn up to appointments, then the doctor will inform the Department that you still have Active TB and you will face a refusal. This happened to a client of ours once, and it came as a terrible shock.

So if this happens to you, don’t panic. Don’t get all upset. Be grateful that the disease was diagnosed, because it can be horribly debilitating. Diagnosis means treatment can happen, and the applicant will get better. Doctors in Australia are not accustomed to seeing TB in their patients, and it may have gone undiagnosed for years had it not been picked up this way.

And try to understand that this is the price you pay to keep horrible diseases like this out of Australia. You can’t have it both ways.

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23 Comments

  1. john reynolds

    This happened to my wife at the medical–they found a small spot on her left lung–she had no symptoms at all. If anything cements a relationship this will !! We was in Cebu so I straight away took her to the specialist–panel approved doctor .He put her on a course of 3 tablets (huge horse tablets) every day for 6 months—as many medicines are fakes in Philippines the doctor supplied her tablets every month. A x ray is carried out at 2 months,4 months and a final at 6 months.After 6 months the specialist sends a final report to global health—his recommendation COUNTS –its gold yes or no!!! All directions of how,when tablets are taken must be followed!!! Also you the sponsor needs to be x rayed also in Australia with follow up xrays after she arrives in Australia for both of you—a follow up x ray in Australia is a rule you must follow as part of her granted visa rules–do so!! We followed the rules–exactly–she was granted the visa and now is in Australia 1 year now TB free!! It is expensive but the hardest part is to ensure she has the family behind her and encourage her to keep taking her medicine and she has funds to buy proper medicine,attend doctor and pay for tests. What I did was speak to the doctor myself,find costs and pay him in advance for her full treatment—saves a lot of hassles!!!.

    Reply
  2. Mohan Tamang

    Hi, My wife gave a medical examination today but they found a small spot in her chest so is there any risk for visa??

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      There is a risk of delay, if they suspect Tuberculosis. They will advise you.

      Reply
      • Sher

        Hello Jeff Sir,
        Is there anything which can remove pleural thickening (5mm) ?
        I had to do re-medical test due to it.

        Reply
        • Jeff Harvie

          Please speak to a doctor. I can’t advise you on that, sorry.

          Reply
  3. Rin Fioravanti

    My wife and stepdaughter today had their medicals for the Family Stream visa to enter Australia while our Partner Visa is in the system to be processed.

    3 years ago my stepdaughter had TB but was medicated and was given the all clear however, my wife now has to go to her local GP and get a clearance certificate and email this to the clinic the medical was conducted at, in Cebu.

    My question is what is the likely outcome the dept will take. Will they accept the clearance or will they require further tests regardless of the certified clearance ??

    I appreciate your advice.

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      Is that what the clinic told her to do? She just has to follow their directions and follow them to the letter. And understand that the priorities of the Medical people in Canberra is to keep active TB out of Australia. That will always matter more than travel plans. And TB can be a tricky little @#&%*! and can require a series of tests. You just have to bear with it. Sorry I couldn’t offer anything more definitive.

      Reply
  4. Ricky

    I’m currently on bridging visa. Tuberculosis (TB) has been detected and I’m on treatment under medicare in Australia.

    I have applied 887 Global processing time is 7 to 10 months, however its been 11 months,  haven’t heard anything from department yet. 

    My Question is :

    – Can department refuse my 887 visa (permanent residency) on the ground of Tuberculosis.

    – Or department is waiting for my treatment to be finished before grant me 887 visa (permanent residency). 

    I’m very much worried due to silence from department. 

    A little help would be appreciated !! Thank You…

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      The silence is very normal. The Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (the medical section of the Department) is fairly slow, plus their priority is keeping TB out of the country. They don’t rush anything.

      Your questions?

      1. Yes they can refuse, but normally they let you undergo treatment and will wait for a positive outcome.
      2. Yes, most definitely. I don’t know if they will or will not grant your visa, but they will normally wait, yes.

      Reply
  5. Confused and Extremely Frustrated

    Good Morning Jeff, we have recently been rejected our third attempt to get a tourist/family stream visa for my wife and step daughter after going through the medicals process (we are currently in the process of a forth attempt). We also have a Partner Visa application in the system. The issue wasn’t the medicals as it turns out because the decision to reject our application was made prior to the medicals being conducted but we were not advised so the monies were paid, the 2 days off for my wife and child were taken, the 5 hour commute from her province was made, not to mention a nights accommodation in Cebu to ensure they made their allocated time. We are a legitimate married couple who are looking to at least try to begin a normal married life together while we are waiting for the processing of our Partner Visa which is anywhere from 13 – 18+ months away and are doing everything that has been asked of us by the system. The underlying reason that keeps coming up is that the dept doesn’t believe my wife will return to the Philippines. Im looking for a logical reason as to why. We have paid a $9000 application fee for the Partner Visa which the government has already banked. Why would we or anyone breach a short term visa when they have a Partner Visa waiting to be processed that any breach of a short term visa would potentially cancel the Partner visa and the paid monies be lost. Can this not be leveraged against as it is very important information, isn’t it ?? Wouldnt this be enough ??? There is SO much more that I can state however this email would go on for a few more pages. Im trying to find some logic, any logic, in what seems to be a very illogical process considering there are others that appear to be able to get entry visa’s so easily. The whole process has caused much stress to the both of us and Im considering going to the media with my story as I believe there are MANY others trying to do the right thing, legitimately, but are being let down by the process.

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      I’d like to email a reply to you, but the address you gave me bounced back. Suggest you contact me via the contacts page?

      Reply
  6. Bastian

    Hi,

    I hope you can help me clear some questions.

    I applied for a working visa last 2015 but withdrew it since I was diagnosed with PTB. I then undergo treatment. I reapplied for a tourist visa last 2017 and perform the necessary required test (xrays and sputum) which I was cleared and was granted with tourist visa. Now I have an urgent demand from my client to work in AUS to attend some Business meeting (2weeks) and I need to be there in the next 20days. My concern is having a history and record with AUS of cleared PTB will I still be ask to go through the ling process again? or will be considered as normal and be able to acquire my work visa based on the normal standard number of days?

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      We don’t deal with work visas, so I couldn’t advise you sorry.

      Reply
  7. emeka

    please my question is;

    My friend applied for a partner visa subclass 309/100 and have already log in the visa but doing his health check-up, he was tested positive to tuberculosis, now the hospital that Australia sent him for the medical test want to treat me. My question is after the treatment which will last for 6 months, will he still go on with his visa processing or will the positive result of the Tuberculosis affect my visa. [ he have already been married to an Australia citizen]?

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      If a visa applicant has tuberculosis, they will continue processing the visa whilst the applicant undergoes proper supervised medical treatment. They will not stop processing, and they will not refuse a visa because an applicant has TB and is cooperating. But they will not grant the visa until they are satisfied that the visa applicant is now free of TB.

      Reply
      • emeka

        Thank so much for your respond. Actually i have started having the treatment by the same doctor and hospital that Australia sent me to do the medical test. Hope the doctor will inform Australia that i am receiving my treatment and also will tell them after am free from TB.

        Reply
        • Jeff Harvie

          If the doctor is the one you were sent to by the Department, then yes they will.

          Reply
          • emeka

            Thank so much for your respond, am very grateful.

  8. Ricky

    Hi Jeff , Thank you for your advise earlier. Much Appreciated !!

    My treatment is completed successfully on 11th Dec and the same has been communicated to Dept of Health, had scan which looks normal.
    However, I’m still waiting for my application to be finalized.

    I called Immigration, they said waiting for more information, looks like they are waiting Medical Officer green signal.

    Question:

    Normally, how much time will take Medical Officer to inform Immigration after successful Tb treatment?

    Should I call immigration and ask them to follow-up with Medical Officer.

    Feeling Extremely Frustrated. Its been 18 Months since I applied 887.

    Please advise what should I do?

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      Hello Ricky. They take forever and there is nothing you can do. The priority of the MOC section is to keep TB out of Australia. That matters far more than how long you wait. You can’t push them. You just need to wait.

      Reply
  9. Sher

    Hello sir,
    I had TB 5 years ago and consumed medicine for 6month.
    I wanted to ask that
    I have small scar in my bottom right part of lung now which doctor called it pleural thickening of 5mm and can’t be cured.
    Doctor didn’t suggest me any medicine . I did my CXR and it showed scar , now i have done my 3 consecutive day sputum test as requested by high commission and waiting for result
    My question is .. If sputum result will come negative TB , then will I get visa ? and what about my small scar on Xray ? will it not hamper because doctor said it can’t be cured..
    I am scared that my visa will get refused..
    Reply as soon as possible.

    Reply
  10. Rajendra Gurung

    Hello sir, if the person has already been diagnosed and had gone through medications. So in this care does he require to undergo the medication process again, and will it effect the visa refusal.

    Reply
    • Jeff Harvie

      If they are clear of Tuberculosis to the satisfaction of the Department, there should be no problem

      Reply

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