Effective 31 December 2013 anyone wishing to apply for a UK fiancee, marriage or partner visa from Russia will be required to undergo a mandatory tuberculosis (TB) test before submitting a settlement visa application to the British Consulate in Moscow. These new measures will also include dependent children applying for a UK settlement visa sponsored by a British Citizen or UK permanent resident. Children under 11 years old do not need to be tested, but their medical history will be discussed with a panel physician at an approved clinic. The doctor will then decide whether a full test is required, or issue a certificate stating that there are no signs of active TB. The British Embassy in Moscow will only accept TB clearance certificates issued by a panel physician who has been approved by UK Visas & Immigration (formerly the UK Border Agency).
How are TB tests conducted?
In the first instance a TB test will be conducted via a chest x-ray. Pregnant women may request extra x-ray protection or they can choose to be tested via a sputum test instead. The sputum test incurs additional time and cost, therefore many women choose to wait until the baby is born before making the application. In all cases, if the chest x-ray is clear, the certificate will be issued.
The process cannot begin until the fee has been paid – there are no refunds on fees in any circumstances. There are currently four approved clinics in Russia which can conduct the TB testing: Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. Certificates from these clinics are the only ones which will be accepted with a settlement visa application by the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) team at the British Consulate in Moscow. It is also vital to remember that the certificates must be specifically for entry into the UK – certificates issued for entry into other countries are not acceptable.
What if the x-ray is doubtful or positive?
If the x-ray shows any areas which may be indicative of TB, the next stage is a sputum (phlegm) test, which carries an additional fee. This can also take up to two months to process, as opposed to the x-ray which is usually ready in around four hours. If the sputum test comes back as a negative, the certificate will be awarded and the application can go ahead as normal. If it is positive, the clinic doctor may be required to notify the correct authorities in the UK (UK Visas & Immigration and Health Protection Agency) as well as local authorities in Russia. Anyone who receives a positive test result will be referred to start a course of treatment, which may include family members. Re-testing is possible after the treatment has been completed, but there must be at least a six month gap before reapplying. When visiting for a re-test, all the paperwork relating to the treatment should be taken.
There is no right of appeal over a positive result – when making the appointment for the test, an implicit agreement is made that the doctor’s decision is final. Anyone who is prevented from applying for a UK visa because of a positive result for either themselves or a family member will not be given a refund – the fees are required to cover the cost of the test and as such are not able to be refunded any circumstances.
When to have the TB test in Russia?
Each certificate is valid for six months, so any UK marriage visa applicant must be prepared to apply for a UK settlement visa and travel within this time frame. Any applicant with reasons to suspect that they may have TB is advised that the diagnosis and subsequent treatment may take up to nine months, and should therefore plan accordingly. TB is becoming a global problem and the UK along with many other countries is taking steps to prevent its spread. For this reason there can be no exceptions made for any applicants who send in visa documents without valid TB certification.