Hepatitis B and Immigration/visa issues

Good day, Dr. Thomas Tu!

I do have a concern with regard to studying and working as a nurse in Australia.

I received a scholarship from Australia to study nursing there. However, way back in 2017, I found out that I have a hepa b, my medical stated it was “reactive”. Will I be declined if I apply for VISA? If yes, what must I do so I could still pursue studying nursing in Australia?

I believe that you are the best person to speak about this concern for you are more familiar with policies in Australia since you live and work there.

I hope to read from you soon! Stay safe!

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Dear @Dane ,

Thanks for the question and welcome to the community. I have created a new topic here because I think it’s an important issue that affects many people and it’s worth having it easily searchable.

Regarding migration, it is difficult to say right now.

For most people with Hepatitis B, it usually will not make you less eligible for a visa in Australia, but can make it more difficult. There are special considerations if you do want to work in healthcare. I am definitely not an expert in migration law and I think you might need specific support.

I would love for any Australian experts, who might have more experience in this to provide some additional input. (@simone.strasser, @MarkDouglas, @jessica.howell, @stao, @Nafisa.Yussf). Maybe @YellowWarriorsPH from the Philippines could also help in this case?

I could find the following resources that might help:

Hepatitis B is not considered a public health threat to the Australian community. However, it might be considered a threat when the applicant intends to work in healthcare and undertake exposure-prone procedures where there is a risk of contact between the worker’s blood and a patient’s open tissue. If this is a consideration, it is advisable that the applicant consults a viral hepatitis specialist experienced in the management of infected health care workers. The Department will seek a report from a prospective employer or institution about whether a person would be involved in exposure-prone procedures before a visa decision is made.

We generally don’t consider HIV or hepatitis to be a threat to public health. But if you have HIV or hepatitis and you apply for a temporary visa, we might consider your condition to be a threat to public health if you intend to work as (or study to become) a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic in Australia.

Hello Mr. @ThomasTu !
I am a chronic Hepatitis B patient. I want to apply to Australia for my Masters under Student Visa. But I am concerned about my Visa being rejected. Will my Visa be declined under grounds of Hepatitis B? What are my chances of studying and working in Australia as a Hepatitis B patient?
Please Help me get the answers! Thank You!

Dear @Aarati11,

I have Hep B myself and I am now an associate professor running my own research group here in Australia; there is no barrier to studying and working in academia in Australia as someone with Hep B. Having Hep B does not prevent you from applying for a visa and it should not be rejected just because you have Hep B. Best thing would be to apply!

Hope this helps,
Thomas

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Hello @ThomasTu ,

I’m new to this group and my question is related to the abovementioned topic. I’m also an aspiring student in Australia and am a bit worried about my application. A few questions are below:

  1. Can I use my prescription given to me by my doctor here in the Philippines?
  2. How can I bring my maintenance med ( Tenofovir) once I travel to Australia soon? Will immigration stop me if they find my medicine?
  3. Can I still work in Australia even with Hep b? I’m planning to work in the food industry or aged care.

Please enlighten me with your expertise and thoughts on this. Thank you so much.

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Dear @eemnace0904,

Welcome to the forum and hope you find the support you need here. Regarding your questions:

  1. No, I think you need to get a prescription from an Australian doctor to be able to get the drugs from an Australian pharmacy.
  2. Yes, you can bring your meds to Australia. No-one is going to stop you from bringing these in.
  3. Yes, you can still work in Australia with Hep B, indeed we have many people on the forum here doing exactly this (including myself).

Hope this helps,
Thomas

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Hello did u process visa and what was the out come??

Well i wanted to enquire one things…we have to creat HAP ID and declare all our past medical history and treatment underdoing while visa processing.
As u know i have hep b and doing treatment with Tenofavir…how about visa getting denied based on my health condition and cost of treatment.
Thank you

I paused my processing in the meantime, I need to clear things out first before I continue to avoid wasting money and time.

Dear @Ugyen,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community.

As mentioned the previously cited resources (https://liverwell.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Aust-Visa-brochure-Web-version_19Nov2019.pdf), being prescribed tenofovir can put you over the significant cost threshold, which may lead to rejection of your application. Being on entecavir however is still below the threshold. So having a letter of support with this in mind would help a lot.

It’s very difficult for us online to tell you exactly how to go about it as you should get legal advice from a Registered Migration Agent or lawyer specialising in migration law.

There are other users here that may have gone through the same process though and may talk about their experiences (@UyenV, @Nafisa.Yussf, @nafisa.yussf1, @lien.tran).

Other good resources on this topic:

Some additional information from the Department of Home Affairs (Threats to public health):

Evidence of HIV or hepatitis
We generally don’t consider HIV or hepatitis to be a threat to public health.

But if you have HIV or hepatitis and you apply for a temporary visa, we might consider your condition to be a threat to public health if you intend to work as (or study to become) a doctor, nurse, dentist or paramedic in Australia.

Otherwise you will only be assessed by a MOC to determine whether your condition would:

result in significant healthcare or community service costs, or
prejudice the access of Australian citizens and permanent residents to services in short supply

Hello everyone,
Hope you are in good mood. I have recently accepted a job position in the Czech republic working as a programmer. Recently, I did a checkup and found I am HBV positive. do you think it could affect my visa process or not? I admit the documents before this checkup and I really did not know anything about my condition. After I found out my condition(3 weeks ago) I decided to let my employer know about this situation and he responded that
if your treating physician has not introduced any treatment and the virus levels are low, I may assume that this will not affect the mandatory initial medical examination for employment
My specialized doctor told me no need to start any meds but I should be under checkups. My HbsAg is 25 and my viral load is 193 Iu/ml.
Do you think I would encounter any problems with working or my visa process? I don’t know what to do or what is going to happen, please guide me with what is better.
Can I accept and work there?
I really worked hard and it is my dream to find a job and start my dream life there.
So I want to thank you in advance for helping me.

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Dear @IWillBeCured,

Thanks for the question. I can only give you my experience of working in Germany (moving from Australia). I had no trouble at all working or with the visa process. I just accepted my offer and moved there.

Thomas

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Hello Doc @ThomasTu

So basically, if I have been prescribed Tenofovir for my maintenance, it would really affect my student visa processing? Or is it when I apply for a PR? I still have it in my head if I will continue with my SV application knowing that I’m on Tenofovir.

Hi Ugyen,
On a student visa, you will not be denied visa if you have Hbv considering the course of study. But, however, it becomes complicated if you are applying for permanent residence. Dept of Home Affairs will access and check if your health management cost will exceeds AUD$ 49000 in 10 years. Goodluck

Dear @eemnace0904,

I am not an expert in immigration and you should get legal advice from a Registered Migration Agent or lawyer specialising in migration law.

@Evans mentions some relevant points above from his experience. I have also heard of many international students being here in Australia who are HBV-positive.

I think it’s important to note that you would to see the doctor to get prescriptions to continue your tenofovir treatment and pay to get the medications. At the moment, only specialists and GPs with specialised “S100” training can prescribe tenofovir for Hep B.

Thomas

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What is the cost of Tenofavir treatment at Australia?
I am planning to tske my course on bachelor of science.
Looking at the course i took .what u think of visa processing getting denied or approved?

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Hello Doc @ThomasTu ,

I hope you are well! How about in Germany? May I know the guidelines or what to expect for healthcare workers with chronic HBV who want to work there? Will there be problems with visas or applying for permanent residence? I’m a nurse actually just waiting for my work permit. I have not told my employer that I have chronic HBV.

Hi @Isaprank,

I am not sure about the guidelines for health care workers in Germany (I was only a scientist). There were no problems for me when applying for a visa, and I’m unsure about the permanent residence visa. I don’t know if you have to tell your employer or not, the data protection rules are pretty strict in Germany.

My feeling was the general knowledge about Hepatitis B was pretty poor in non-specialists and even some gastroenterologists - it’s just not a very common condition there. It would be good to get connected with someone who specialises in Hep B. Where are you going to be based, perhaps I can send you a couple of names.

Thomas

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Hi Ugyen, I cannot give you an indication about whether your visa will be denied or approved, my impression from reading the resources above is that having Hep B should not have any influence in it.

The price for Tenofovir is about $6 AUD per tablet, Entecavir is much cheaper at about $1 per tablet.