All applicants for long term UK visas from countries where TB is common must be screened for active TB in the lungs as part of their UK visa application. In this guide to TB screening for the UK we answer a number of frequently asked questions about TB and TB screening requirements for UK visa applications.
Do I need to be tested for TB before coming to the UK?
A tuberculosis (TB) test is required by an Applicant if they are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and they are resident in any of the countries listed by the UK government.
Any person applying to enter the UK as described in paragraph A39, Part 1 General Provisions of the Immigration Rules, must present at the time of application a valid medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner approved by the Secretary of State for these purposes, as listed on the Gov.uk website, confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that such tuberculosis is not present in the applicant.
Paragraph A39 of the Immigration Rules reads:
A39. Any person making an application for entry clearance to come to the UK for more than six months or as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner applying for leave to enter under Section EC-P:Entry clearance as a partner under Appendix FM, having been present in a country listed in Appendix T for more than six months immediately prior to their application, must present, at the time of application, a valid medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner approved by the Secretary of State for these purposes, as listed on the Gov.uk website, confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that this tuberculosis is not present in the applicant.
It is important to note that this requirement applies 'at the time of application' and depending on the country of residence, may apply to applications for leave to enter as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, even though a successful application will result in a grant of leave to enter only for a six month period.
When might a TB certificate not be required?
A TB test is not required in the following circumstances:
- The Applicant is a diplomat accredited to the UK
- The Applicant is a returning resident and they have not been away for more than 2 years
- The Applicant has lived for at least 6 months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK and they have been away from a country for no more than 6 months.
In accordance with paragraph B39 an Applicant seeking leave to enter as a returning resident under paragraph 19, and who has therefore been absent for more than two years, is subject to the requirements in paragraph 39.
Paragraph C39 reads:
Where a person has lawfully been present in a country not mentioned in Appendix T for more than six months and they are applying for entry clearance as in A39 in a country in Appendix T but have not been in that country or any other country mentioned in Appendix T for more than six months immediately before making their application, they will not be required to produce a medical certificate showing they are free from active pulmonary TB. This does not alter the discretionary powers as in paragraph 39 below.
It is important in considering the application of paragraph C39 to note the use of the word 'lawfully'.
How long is a TB certificate valid for?
Following a test which shows the Applicant does not have TB, the Applicant will be provided with a certificate which should be submitted with the visa application documents.
It is important to note the certificate is only valid for 6 months from the date it is issued. An applicant will therefore need to consider the timing of any application and factor in the practicalities of arranging and travelling to an appointment at an approved clinic.
What happens at the TB test at an approved clinic?
An Applicant will need to take to their appointment their passport and one other official document confirming their identity. In addition they should take two passport photographs and their medical records including, if applicable, any details of a previous diagnosis of TB and treatment.
Ordinarily an Applicant will be given a chest x-ray to test for TB. If this is not clear or there are concerns the Applicant may be asked to provide a sputum sample.
There are special arrangements for children and pregnant women. All children will need to see a physician who will decide if they need a chest x-ray. Children under 11 will not usually have a chest x-ray. A health questionnaire will be completed and if a clinician makes a decision meaning the child does not have TB they will issue a certificate.
Pregnant women can choose either an x-ray with extra shield in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, a sputum test, or to wait until they have delivered. If opting for the sputum test there may be an extra fee and it can take up to 8 weeks to receive a result. It may be possible to rely on an x-ray taken within the last 3 months at one of the approved clinics. A clinician at an approved clinic may be able to review this.
If there is a test positive for TB the Applicant will be referred for treatment; once the treatment is complete they can be re-screened for an additional fee. A diagnosis will be reported in accordance with the requirements of any country and to the UK health authorities.
Where will I need to go to be tested for TB?
The list of countries can be accessed: here. Each country has a list of approved clinics. The valid medical certificate must be issued by a medical practitioner approved by the Secretary of State and appearing on the Gov.uk website. Clinic fees will depend country to country and are payable in addition to any UKVI application fees.
Applicants may need to take a test in a neighbouring country, for example Applicants from Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mali will need to take a test in Gambia or Senegal and those from Mauritania will need to be screened in Morocco. This is a practical consideration for many Applicants in planning their visa application.
General Discretion - Immigration Rules
Paragraph 39 of the Immigration Rules does give a general discretion for Entry Clearance Officer as there is for an Immigration Officer:
- The Entry Clearance Officer has the same discretion as an Immigration Officer to refer applicants for entry clearance for medical examination and the same principles will apply to the decision whether or not to issue an entry clearance.
What will happen if I apply for a visa and do not supply a TB test certificate?
If an Applicant submits an application and does not provide the TB certificate the entry clearance application is likely to be refused.
At the time of writing the current TB testing requirements for Ukrainian nationals making applications on the family route are currently waived. The current guidance reads:
The requirements for a TB test certificate, in paragraph A39 of the immigration rules, have been temporarily waived. TB test facilities in Kyiv are closed and screening for TB cannot reasonably take place and the relevant certificate cannot be reasonably obtained.
Do I require a TB test certificate for an application for leave to remain?
An Applicant will only need to provide a TB certificate if making an application for entry clearance from outside the UK when required to do so. There is no requirement to provide a certificate when making an application from within the UK.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.