The UK Border Agency has been piloting the pre-migration screening of persons applying for long-term visas and entry clearance from high incidence TB countries on a model routinely employed by the US, Australia and Canada. Screening overseas in advance of the visa application process enables the use of laboratory tests where x-rays or clinical judgement suggests the possible presence of TB. It also increases the possibility of detecting and intercepting drug and multi-drug resistant forms of the disease. Where individuals are found to have active pulmonary TB, they may successfully undergo treatment before their application to come to the UK can be considered. This approach is already sanctioned by existing powers in the immigration rules. The UKBA has introduced new measures for migrants wanting to enter the UK for more than six months, from 67 countries with a high incidence of TB. Migrants will need to be screened in their home country before they are granted a visa for the UK.
Pre-entry screening, followed by treatment where necessary, will help to prevent the risk of TB in the UK. The introduction of pre-screening comes as recent figures showed that there were over 9,000 new cases of TB in the UK in 2011, a 5% increase on 2010. The programme is targeted at migrants after research showed non-UK born people accounted for three quarters of all new TB cases diagnosed - 20 times higher than in the UK born population.
The UK Border Agency will build on existing pre-screening undertaken by international partners including the US, Canada and Australia. The costs of screening and subsequent treatment will be met by those people applying to come into the UK.
The current UK pre-migration TB screening programme covers 15 countries considered to have high incidence of TB by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and has demonstrated clear potential to detect active TB. The UKBA intends to expand this programme to those visa applicants applying to stay in the UK for longer than six months from the over 80 countries with a high incidence of TB, beginning the roll-out during the summer of 2012.
|Countries currently covered by pre-screening pilot|
|Countries with a high incidence of Tuburculosis|
|Bhutan||Haiti||Papua New Guinea
||The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
||Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe|
||Republic of Korea
|Central African Republic
|China, Hong Kong SAR