Following the Government’s announcement in May 2012 that TB screening would be extended to 67 countries, including India, the UKBA has now announced it’s timetable and arrangements for rolling out its pre-entry TB screening programme in India.
The TB screening programme is designed to better protect the UK public health and use public resources more efficiently. It is estimated that the programme will save the taxpayer more than £40 million over 10 years. At present, TB screening is carried out at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. However, the Government has announced that that this is ineffective in detecting and managing TB.
Currently, TB is at its highest level in the UK for 30 years and there were 9,000 new cases in the UK last year (a 5% increase on 2010).
The TB screening programme is aimed at migrants as research has shown that three quarters of TB cases in the UK occur in those born outside of the UK. Increasingly, drug-resistant strains of TB are being identified. Earlier this year it was reported that a strain of TB has been identified in India which is completely resistant to antibiotics.
Who needs to be tested?
If a migrant wants to travel to the UK for more than 6 months and they are resident in India they will need to undergo TB screening in India before making their visa application.
The TB screening programme will be rolled out to the visa categories below and applicants will be required to be tested and provide a certificate confirming that they are clear of TB with their application from the following dates:
- Settlement visas – 16 August 2012
- Working visas (Tier 1, 2 and 5 of the Points Based System) – 10 September 2012
- Student visas (Tier 4 of the Points Based System) – 1 November 2012
TB Screening Process
The applicant must be screened at one of the clinics approved by the UKBA, which are listed on their website. The current fee for TB screening is RS1500, which is approximately £17.
If the applicant is free of TB, they will be provided with a certificate which is normally valid for 6 months.
If the applicant tests positive for TB they will be referred for treatment and will not be permitted to travel to the UK until they have tested clear of TB.
During busy periods it may take up to 10 days to obtain an appointment at one of the UKBA approved clinics in India. Therefore, applicants should bear this in mind when considering the timescales for making their visa application. If the application is submitted without a TB certificate, it will fail.
Employers should also consider the additional time implication to obtain a TB certificate when making an offer to a migrant that is resident in India.
India is the first of 67 countries to be covered by the extended TB screening programme. Therefore, a watching brief should be kept for additional countries being covered by the programme.