Health Workforce Certificates to be abolished

Overseas-trained doctors seeking to work as GPs in Australia now have one less hurdle to jump.

On 24 August the Department of Home Affairs announced the Visas for GPs program will cease on 16 September 2023, removing the requirement for employers of primary care medical practitioners to apply for a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC).  

Wavelength In-house Registered Migration Agent Alex Graham (MARN: 1795080) shares the details and what this means for GPs in particular. 


The background 

The HWC requirement applied to these occupations: 

  • General Practitioner (ANZSCO 253111) 
  • Resident Medical Officer (ANZSCO 253112)  
  • Medical Practitioner not elsewhere classified (ANZSCO 253999) 

For visa subclasses: 

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) 
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (subclass 494) visa 
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) 
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187) 

The HWC was to be applied to HR Plus via the Visas for GPs website and enclosed to the TSS/ENS/RSMS employer nomination application. 


What does this change mean for Australian healthcare employers? 

From 16 September, sponsoring employers of primary care practitioners will no longer be required to submit a HWC as a part of the nomination application. 

This means one less hurdle involved in applying for 482/494/186/187 visa for GPs, RMOs and Medical Practitioners nec, and a positive step towards streamlining the migration process for certain International Medical Graduates (IMGs). 


A word of Caution 

The HWC is an immigration requirement applying to primary care practitioners specifically, but there are several practice location restrictions for IMGs, which operate independently of the immigration sphere and will continue to apply: 

Access to Medicare Benefits 

Medical practitioners who were first registered in Australia after 1 January 1997 and who meet the definition of an Overseas-Trained Doctor (OTD) or Foreign Graduate of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMS) are restricted under Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973. 

Section 19AB of the Act generally restricts access to Medicare Benefits and requires OTDs to work in a DPA for a period of up to 10 years from the date of their first medical registration. This restriction is generally referred to as the ‘ten-year moratorium requirement’. 

An area that has been classified as a DPA for GPs has been assessed as not receiving adequate GP services for the needs of that population. For GPs, the DPA uses Modified Monash Model MM2 as the benchmark.  

RACGP Practice Experience Program (PEP) 

The RACGP currently requires PEP applicants to work in regional, rural and remote training sites, usually MM2-7.  

Whilst from 16 September 2023, GPs will no longer need a HWC for visa purposes, they will still be restricted to work in a DPA MM2+ for registration and access to Medicare benefits purposes.   


What if you need to lodge a 482/494/186/187 visa before 16 September 2023? 

Applications for a HWC will continue to be accepted until 5th September and HWC Exemptions until the 13th September.  Any applications received before these dates will be processed in line with the program guidelines. 


In a Nutshell 

The removal of the HWC requirement from 16 September 2023 is a significant move towards streamlining the visa process, making it easier and faster for Australian employers to employ and sponsor primary care practitioners. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean GPs can now work anywhere in Australia. Section 19AB and PEP restrictions continue to apply, and most GPs will still be required to work in a DPA MM2+. 


Need to know more? Reach out to our Regulatory & Migration team. 

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