If you find yourself in a situation where you might need to stay in Australia for longer than expected due to needing medical treatment or to support someone who requires medical treatment, the Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602) may help. With the world in the way that it is now, we thought it pertinent to share information that might be helpful to our readers.
Bear in mind that this article covers the Medical Treatment visa (MTV) as it currently exists in legislation. If you intend to apply for the visa in this period, there are many travel restrictions and other new and evolving regulations being implemented to tackle the spread of Covid-19 (otherwise known as Coronavirus) in Australia. We advise you to keep up with news on Covid-19 in Australia through official government channels to avoid confusion and false news. We at Australian Immigration Law Services are also here to speak to in regards to your unique visa situation in these unprecedented times.
The MTV allows you to stay in Australia until the treatment plan or consultations are finished. Depending on your situation, you may be allowed to stay on in Australia, or granted single entry or multiple entries on this visa. Whilst this visa is not generally appropriate for those who intend to stay in Australia for over a year, the MTV may be used in situations where the applicant requires ongoing medical treatment and who are unable to depart Australia due to their health condition. Holders of this visa may also study for up to 3 months if certain criteria are met (Condition 8201).
Applicants must satisfy a number of requirements to be granted this visa:
- Is after eligible medical treatment
- Has adequate personal funds
- Is a genuine visitor
- Meets character requirements
Unlike what you commonly see with other visas, there is no age requirement for the MTV.
Eligible medical reasons cover those who are:
- To receive medical consultation and/or treatment
- To donate an organ
- To accompany a person in a situation above
- To be medically evacuated* to or receive medical treatment in Queensland (if a Western Province PNG citizen)
- Over 50 years of age and are unfit to depart Australia
It is also worth to mention that the grant of the visa cannot result in Australian citizens or permanent residents being disadvantaged. This means that if the applicant needing medical treatment requires access to services that are in short supply and therefore would mean an Australian citizen or permanent resident losing out, then the application is unlikely to be approved.
If the applicant carries a disease that is a risk to public health, such as tuberculosis, it is unlikely that they will be granted a visa to stay. It is however again quite subjective. If the applicant is overseas, it would likely be a rejection of the application. If the applicant is in Australia, it depends upon how safe it is for the person to leave Australia, as well as how safe it is for Australia to have the person leave. [In the current Covid-19 pandemic, questions like these have no hard answers.]
*If an applicant outside Australia requires urgent medical treatment in Australia, an MTV may be granted by post within a short time frame to allow travel to Australia. Medical clearance can be facilitated in order to enable the applicant to travel without completing the required medical examinations. Where possible, all non-citizens travelling to Australia should have a valid visa.
If granting an MTV would result in a delay that could be detrimental to the patient’s health, Border Operations Centre (BOC) uplift without a visa may be considered. This option should only be considered in exceptional circumstances, for example the applicant’s condition is time sensitive, life threatening or likely to deteriorate.
Organ Transplants and Dialysis
Examples of services in short supply are where the applicant requires organ transplants or dialysis. It must be made clear that requiring such treatment does not confirm that the visa will be refused, as situations can vary. In such cases, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will make further assessments as to if the grant of the visa is likely to be of detriment to Australian citizens or permanent residents.
The following is considered for organ transplants:
- What organs will be transplanted during the operation and
- Advice on who is providing the donor organ and whether that person is an Australian resident or will be accompanying the applicant from overseas and
- Evidence indicating that compatibility and suitability testing has been undertaken.
Dialysis is acceptable if written confirmation from the treating medical facility can be provided providing:
- That the dialysis will be taking place in a private medical facility (not a public facility) and
- That there will be no disadvantage to public patients (the medical facility should be able to advise this).
Clear exceptions would be if the applicant will be accompanied by a donor from overseas or if the applicant is unfit to depart.
What is Considered as Medical Treatment?
What one may deem ‘medical treatment’ can vary quite significantly in today’s world, with constantly evolving technologies and ever-growing services in the health and wellness industry. How does the DoHA define medical treatment?
- Minor and major medical procedures
- Life saving treatment and other surgeries
- Cosmetic treatment
- In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- Giving birth
- Consultation and testing
- Surrogate motherhood
Adequate Personal Funds
Most applicants will be required to demonstrate that they will be able to, beyond paying for any medical treatment, also finance travel into Australia (if applicable) and general living expenses for the duration of their stay in Australia.
The DHA assesses this fairly, looking at your plans and how you will fulfil them. For example, if you were to be staying with family whilst in Australia receiving medical treatment, your required expenses would be lowered and you would not be expected to demonstrate having more than you actually need.
The applicant does not need to have their own funds (that is, the funds could be those provided by relatives or friends in Australia). The applicant simply must have access to funds.
Another interesting feature with the MTV is that if the applicant is suffering financial hardship and this occurs due to changes in circumstances after they have entered Australia, the applicant can be granted a visa without work restrictions which equates to meeting this requirement. No job offer needed! [If you were affected by Covid-19, this would be in your favour. Working on the MTV is not a standard thing – MTVs typically have Condition 8101 applied which does not allow the visa holder to work in Australia. It is a concession granted to those in great need.
The exception again, to this, is when the applicant is unfit to depart.
The MTV is meant to be a temporary visa and so you must be a genuine visitor! This is something that the assessing officer will determine from looking at your application as a whole. It is important to provide any information to support your intent to be a genuine temporary entrant, or not to submit something that could be easily misconstrued. The DHA will refuse your application if it looks like you intend to:
- Remain Australia for a longer period, that is, maintain ongoing residence in Australia or
- Make protection claims in Australia or
- Circumvent Australian migration laws or
- Work illegally in Australia or
- Not abide by the conditions of your visa
It’s no surprise that if you are unfit to depart, this cannot apply to you and you will be exempt.
MTV For Accompanying Applicants
The MTV visa does not only cover those seeking medical treatment but those accompanying the person seeking medical treatment as well. Supporting applicants:
- Provide moral support
- Liaise with health care providers on behalf of the other applicant
- Provide assistance as necessary
- Arrange further treatment for the person seeking treatment if required
- Arrange accommodation for the person seeking treatment if they are advised to spend some recovery time in Australia before returning to their home country
- Arrange transport for the other applicant and/or
- Contact friends and relatives on behalf of the other applicant.
Although an applicant in this category may often be the relative of another MTV applicant, this is not a prescribed criterion. The applicant may, for example, be a close friend of the other applicant or a medical advisor or advocate.
The DoHA is not overly strict with this, but will begin to question if the number of persons accompanying the person seeking medical treatment seems disproportionate.
MTVs for support persons are processed after the person seeking medical treatment has received his or her MTV.
Perhaps a close member of the family of a child still studying requires medical treatment. Study is allowed and restricted to 3 months. Study for more than 3 months is permissible under strict circumstances. The MTV holder must be:
- Under 18 years old and
- Have experienced a change of circumstances while in Australia and
- Have the written permission of a delegate to engage in studies or training for more than three months because compelling and compassionate circumstances exist (refer to Compelling and compassionate circumstances).
Troubleshooting – Application Issues
Cannot have held this visa
Applicants cannot hold or have last held the Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) in the Domestic Worker (Diplomatic of Consular) stream
Held more than one visitor visa
Applicants in Australia are unlikely to be granted the MTV if granting of the MTV will result in their staying in Australia for over 12 consecutive months in conjunction with that applicant holding or having held one or more visitor visas.
The exemption to this is if the applicant is unfit, has financial hardship or other compelling personal reasons.
“No Further Stay” Condition 8503
If you are applying for the MTV, you cannot do this in Australia if your current or last visa was imposed with Condition 8503; the “no further stay” condition. If your visa has Condition 8503 applied to it, any subsequent applications you make for a visa while you are in Australia will be considered as an invalid application There is a possibility for a waiver on Condition 8503 under specified circumstances.
Read: Conditions 8503 and 8558
You have no visa, a refused visa or cancelled visa
Generally, under normal circumstances, an applicant will run into issues making a valid application for a visa if they are in Australia without a substantive visa (visas other than Bridging visas) and have been refused a substantive visa, or had their visa cancelled. However, if it so happens that your visa is refused or cancelled and you discover you required medical treatment, you will be able to apply for the MTV.
Stay tuned with Australian Immigration Law Services. You can follow us on Facebook for updates, or check back in on immiNews on our website. We will return with a with more information on what evidence you will need to provide in your application for medical treatment, what you need to know as an organ donor, what ‘unfit to depart’ means and more.
In the meantime stay safe, stay strong and stay healthy. In this time we need to be kind and help those most in need.
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