One of the top questions that people ask is when their partner can access the benefits of Australia’s health care system, Medicare. In some cases, you can apply when your application for permanent residency has been lodged.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for working out whether people are eligible for Medicare benefits. The Australian Government is working to have its departments sharing as much information as possible. In an ideal world, this would mean no more applications, letters, or repeatedly saying the same thing.
But as you know, immigration is rarely straightforward.
How does DHS access my partner’s visa information?
This happens right at the beginning of the process. The Department of Human Services can access information electronically as soon as Medicare enrolment begins.
Sometimes, data is not available electronically. If this happens, then DHS tends to talk directly to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. One of the ways this happens is through VEVO, which is a real-time visa status check.
What are the criteria for Medicare enrolment?
Generally speaking, you must:
- be an Australian citizen, or
- be a permanent resident of Australia, or
- have applied for a permanent residency visa, or
- have permission to work in Australia, or
- can prove that you are in a relationship with a citizen of Australia.
Holders of some temporary visas may also be eligible. Some parent visas may be excluded.
How does enrolment in Medicare work?
It’s important to prepare all of your documents just in case your electronic visa records are unavailable. While this might seem faintly ridiculous, good preparation is key if you want everything to run smoothly.
This documentation may include:
- a completed Medicare enrolment form, which you can get on the DHS website at this location
- travel-related documents (like passports or ImmiCards) for everyone that needs to be covered by Medicare
- any information you have received from DIBP that will help to confirm the status of your visa.
What sort of things will help to confirm my visa status?
The types of documents you can use to support and confirm your visa status include:
- a letter acknowledging that your permanent residency visa application has been lodged. It must include the names of all of your family members.
- a letter (received by post or email) confirming your visa. The letter must have the names of everyone in your family on it.
- a print-out, screen grab, or email from VEVO.
Medicare might want more information from you: It pays to check
As with any government program, you will need to be able to prove your identity. So, having proof of identity documents on hand will be important.
Medicare may also want other documents to support your enrolment application. This might include information about your relationship with an Australian or Australian resident, information about permission to work in Australia, and more besides.
You need to talk to DHS to find out about the types of information that Medicare might request from you.
Medicare enrolment is not something handled by your immigration lawyer
When you work with an immigration lawyer on your immigration application, don’t expect that they can also help you with your (or your partner’s) Medicare enrolment.
As mentioned earlier, Medicare is handled by a different department. In all cases, your best option is to talk to Medicare directly. Access the Medicare website here.