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By ExpatBriefing.com Editorial
27 November, 2013
From the end of next month, long-term visitors to the UK from Hong Kong and Macau will need to take a tuberculosis test prior to making their visa application. Until now, the rule has applied only to those planning to settle in the UK.
The requirement will affect all individuals in Hong Kong and Macau who apply for a UK visa for longer than 6 months, including those applying for a Tier 4 student visa. Applicants will have to pay to be screened and to obtain a certificate from a center approved by UK Visas and Immigration showing that they are not infected with the disease. Certificates are valid for six months (reduced to three months for those who share a closed environment or household with someone who has TB), and certificates relating to visas for other countries are not valid for the UK.
Those traveling on a fiancé(e) visa are also required to take the test, as well as returning residents who have been away for more than two years.
The UK Border Agency website has details of where the test can be taken, and advises that appointments can usually be arranged within a few days. The test takes the form of a chest x-ray, and in cases where the results are inconclusive applicants will need to provide a sputum sample for a test that may take up to two months to process. The sputum option is also available for pregnant women, as an alternative to using a special protective shield during the x-ray.
The move follows an announcement made last year that pre-entry screening would be introduced for an additional 67 countries and regions, based on TB figures from the World Health Organization. At the time, UK Immigration Minister Damien Green said that TB rates in the UK were at their highest for thirty years, and that non-UK born people accounted for three quarters of all new TB cases diagnosed. He added that there would no longer be a need to undertake screening at British airports, saving GBP25m over ten years.
The Government also says that the change brings the UK in line with other countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.
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