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Changes to migration program to boost regional visas

The Australian government has announced changes to the migration program to direct more migrants to regional areas.

With the Australian government's continuing push for regional settlement, these changes are only making it more attractive for migrants to settle in regional areas. 

Eligible regional areas

Australia map

From November 2019, the Government is expanding the definition of Regional Australia to include all of Australia, excluding metropolitan areas such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Perth. 

Migration lawyer Jess Icao says nearby towns outside Australia's major cities which are mostly an hour or so away by train will be eligible for regional visas, including Newcastle, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast

New skilled regional provisional visas

The Government also announced two new skilled regional provisional visas, enabling migrants and employers to access additional regional occupations and priority processing of their applications.

  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa: for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia.
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa: 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.

There is also an incentive of five additional points for potential migrants looking to settle in regional Australia.

Expansion of working holiday visa scheme

Farm workers
Wikimedia Commons

The expanded working holiday visa allows foreign workers from the Philippines, India, Brazil, Mexico,  Switzerland, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Andorra, Monaco and Mongolia to come to Australia and work in regional areas.


“Individuals aged 18 to 30 are eligible to apply and family members will not be allowed to accompany them,” says Mr Icao. 

Under the expanded visa scheme, Work and Holiday visa holders working in farms in regional areas become eligible for a second and third visa and may be extended for up to three years.

Skilled Migration Occupation List shake-up

Australian Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash

The Government has commenced a review of the skilled migration occupation lists, welcoming feedback from stakeholders, to identify occupations that will fill critical skill shortages in regional Australia. 

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said the review of the skilled migration occupation list will ensure the government is responsive to the genuine skills needed to boost regional economies.  

“As part of the review, my department will consult with industry, employers, unions and individuals in developing advice for the Morrison Government on the occupations required to meet the labour market needs of the Australian economy,” she said.



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