Changes to Foreign Doctors Placements in Australia

New Australian government budget will reduce GP visas by 200 per year

In May 2018, the Australian government announced the reductions of visas for foreign General Practitioners as a result of their new budget target. Over the next four years, their aim is to reduce the number of visas granted to GPs working in metropolitan areas by 200 each year. Read on below for all you need to know now!

regulatory and migration overseas doctors

A spokesperson for the Regional Services Minister has just confirmed a new health agency will be established by the government, whose purpose will be to determine whether an individual General Practice vacancy responds to genuine workforce need. Whilst precise implementation details are not known yet, it seems that the endorsement from the health agency will be required for a visa nomination to be approved.

What does it mean for foreign GPs wanting to make the move?

As we understand it, endorsement from the agency will become a criterion for temporary work visa (TSS) nominations. This means that any given vacancy will need to be endorsed by the new government agency for an overseas-trained doctor to be granted a Subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. It is not clear as yet whether this will also apply to Employer Nominating Scheme (ENS) nominations.

The criteria these endorsements will be assessed against are not yet known. We expect criteria will include labour market testing (LMT), possibly in the form of advertising evidence (similarly to Area of Need and TSS nominations labour market testing criteria).

Isn't Labour market testing already required?

TSS nominations already require that the nominated position be advertised in at least two national outlets for a total period of at least 4 weeks in the 4 months immediately before the nomination application is lodged.

It is plausible that the LMT criteria for endorsement by the health agency will be more stringent than those already in place for TSS nominations. Certainly, the overall rationale seems to be around seeking more direct and immediate control over GPs’ workforce distribution, and ultimately, forcing medical practices to take additional steps to recruit locally.

What about District of Workforce Shortage?

There is no indication that the requirement to work in a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) will no longer apply - as it applies to Overseas Trained Doctors (OTDs) and Foreign Graduates of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMS) who were first registered in Australia on or after 1 January 1997.

The DWS restrictions are set out under section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act). It restricts OTDs and FGAMS’ access to Medicare benefits and has no direct implication on visa eligibility.

The requirements for the position to be located in a DWS and endorsed by the health agency are likely to operate independently of one another, thereby the position will need the government agency’s endorsement for the OTD to obtain a 482 visa and be located in a DWS for them to access Medicare benefits at the location.

When will this take effect?

The measure is set to be in effect from January 2019.

How can we help?

Get answers about your personal migration situation from our in-house Regulatory and Migration team. Email your questions to

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