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New Regional Visas

Two new visas with a pathway to apply for permanent residency

 

10 October 2019

The Australian Government has announced changes to our immigration program to strengthen our economy and boost our regional areas. Two new Skilled Regional Provisional visas will be introduced in November 2019:
 

New

Replaces

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)


for people who are nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.

Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) - first provisional stream

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)

for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) - Direct Entry stream

 

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa

Main features of the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa

  • time required to live and work in regional Australia in order to be eligible for permanent residency will increase from 2 years to 3 years.
  • a simplified definition of regional Australia for skilled migration purposes includes all areas of Australia except the metropolitan areas of; Sydney, Melbourne, BrisbaneNewscastle, Wollongong, Gold Coast, Perth and the NSW Central Coast are now eligible.
  • Access to an increased number of eligible occupations (over 500)
  • priority processing of applications (no further detail provided) 
  • additional points awarded for state nomination or family sponsorship (10 to 15), partner's skills (5 to 10), partner's English skills (5 to 10) and selected STEM occupations (5 to 10). Applicants without a spouse or de facto partner will receive an additional 10 points.
  • Age limit is 45 years
  • Visa will be valid for  5 years
  • Visa holder can move from one regional area to another
  • PR pathway available through visa subclass 191 that will begin from 16 November 2022
  • Visa application fee is set at  $4,045 and the partner fee is $2,025.


Difference between the 489 visa (ceased) and 491 visa

  • The wait for 491 visa holders for PR will now be 3 years instead of 2 years in the visa subclass 489.
  • 491 visa has more regional areas compared to the 489 visa. The areas where the holders of 491 visa can live include all areas in Australia except metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane. The areas of Newcastle, Wollongong, Gold Coast. Perth and NSW Central Coast have also been added to the list.
  • If you're unmarried or are a single applicant, you'll get extra points. There will be also be more points to gain for eligible relative sponsors and skilled partners with competent English. 


What's staying the same?

  • applicants must still be nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member living in regional Australia.
  • applicants will still need to meet the overall points test, age, English language, skills assessment, character and health requirements.
Visa Migration.jpg

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)

Who needs this visa? 

This visa is for skilled applicants that wish to live and work in regional Australia for up to five years. It provides a permanent residency pathway and applicants are required to have an employer in regional Australia to sponsor them. 

Subclass 494 visa holders must live and work in a designated regional area of Australia for the duration of the visa (up to five years). The definition of regional Australia will be expanded and simplified to include all areas of Australia except the metropolitan areas of; Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

In order to be eligible for permanent residency (the new subclass 191 visa) the applicant must continue to live and work in regional Australia for at least three years before applying. 

What are the application requirements? 

Employer nomination requirements: 

  • willing to sponsor you for an occupation that is on the appropriate occupation list (to be confirmed) 
  • position is required for at least 5 years and is in regional Australia 
  • undertake labour market testing by publicly advertising the vacancy and show that the position was unable to be filled by an Australian citizen or permanent resident 
  • pay the Skilling Australia Fund levy for each nominated employee  - $3000 for a business with less than $10 million turnover, or $5000 with a higher turnover 
  • pay a minimum annual salary of $53,900 (known as the TSMIT - Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold) 
  • salary and conditions must equal to what an Australian citizen or permanent resident would receive for the same position 
  • gain Regional Certifying Body certification 

  

Visa applicant requirements: 

  • under 45 at time of application
  • have three years of full-time paid work experience in the nominated occupation or a related field prior to application 
  • obtained a positive skills assessment 
  • have at least competent English - e.g. IELTS 6.0 for all bands or equivalent 
  • meet all health and character requirements 
Regional Visa.jpg

How do the DAMA programs work?

The DAMA (Designated Area Migration Agreements) framework is an employer-driven visa program.  This means it is not possible for a visa applicant to apply for a DAMA visa until and unless they have a suitable employer based in a DAMA approved region. As a first step, the employer must undertake the necessary approval processes with their regional development authority.   

Under the DAMA framework, employers in designated areas experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. Individuals cannot directly access a DAMA. Individuals need to be sponsored: 

  • by an employer operating in a designated region 
  • for an occupation that is specified in the head agreement


We currently have seen seven DAMAs in place: 

Northern Territory: Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement

The Goldfields, WA: City of Kalgoorlie Boulder

Great South Coast, VIC: Warrnambool City Council

Adelaide City and Regional SA: Immigration South Australia

Orana, NSW: Regional Development Australia - Orana, NSW

Far North Queensland: Cairns Chamber of Commerce DAMA 
 

Tasmania

The University of Tasmania

Northern Territory:  

Charles Darwin University The Goldfields

Western Australia: City of Kalgoorlie Boulder

Central Regional Tafe and Curtin University

Great South Coast VIC: Warrnambool City Council

Deakin University

Adelaide City and Regional SA

Flinders, UniSA and University of Adelaide

Regional Orana, NSW: Regional Development Australia - Orana, NSW

Charles Sturt University

Far North Queensland: Cairns Chamber of Commerce DAMA

James Cook University

 


Extra options for international graduates from regional institutions 

This initiative provides for an additional Temporary Graduate visa with an extra year of poststudy work rights for international students who: 

  • graduate from the regional campus of a registered university or institution with a higher education or postgraduate qualification; and 
  • maintain ongoing residence in a regional area while holding their first Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa 

The second Temporary Graduate visa will require ongoing residence in a regional area.  

The definition of regional Australia for this purpose will be the same as the definition for skilled migration – all of Australia except Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. 

As students need to graduate from a regional campus and then spend at least two years residing in a regional area to qualify, the additional Temporary Graduate visa will be available to the first eligible cohort of graduates from 2021.  

Existing Temporary Graduate visa holders may be eligible, provided they can meet these requirements. 

There is no change to Student visa arrangements.  This initiative simply provides an additional incentive for international students to study and live in regional Australia. 

Contact us if you have any questions about this new regional visas. There may be changes it the next coming weeks so do check for updates on this new initiative. 

Source: Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

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