New visas and cities for migrant workers
TWO new visas encouraging skilled migrants to settle in regional and remote areas of Australia are now available - but they come with a set of conditions.
The visas - the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) - are the result of the Australian Government attempting to bolster areas in need as well as ease population pressures in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The new 491 visa is for five years and visa holders will be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence visa after three years.
The new 494 visa is also for five years and has 10,000 places per year.
It requires employer sponsorship and has a 45 year age limit, with a need for competent English.
Visa applicants must undergo a skills assessment and have at least three years skilled employment.
The new visa options come as the Federal Government has also redefined the definition of regional Australia for greater choice among migrants and international university students.
Now, areas like Perth and the Gold Coast will no longer be classified as major cities.
They fall under the cities and major regional centres category - one of two new tiers put in place by the Australian Government for migration purposes.
Other cities in this category include Adelaide, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hobart, Geelong, Wollongong and the Illawarra.
Immigration minister David Coleman said priority areas most in-need of skilled migrants and international university students included Warrnambool in Victoria, Goldfields in WA, Dubbo and the Orana region in NSW, Cairns and Far North QLD, and all of SA, Tasmania and the NT.
These areas are listed under the regional centres and other regional areas category.
"We are easing the population pressures on Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and promoting growth in those regional areas that need more people," he said.
"Our first priority is always to fill jobs with Australians, but the immigration system can play an important role in helping to address regional skills gaps and grow local economies."
As a result of 18,000 regional visas granted in the 2018-2019 financial year and with more than 6350 granted in this program year's first quarter, the government increased the number of places to 25,000 for the 2019-2020.
This is a 124 per cent increase on the same period in 2018-2019.
The two new visas - which enable applicants to receive prior processing and a broader range of occupations than non-regional pathways - replace the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa and Regional Skilled Sponsored visa.
A total of seven Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) have also been signed with regions around the country to address their specific skilled migration needs.