The Australian Government’s new plan for sending migrant workers to regional areas will offer faster visa processing. But it will be tough on those seeking to move to areas other than the one they have been granted visas for.
Migrants moving to regional areas under the Federal Government’s new population plan will have to stay in the designated areas otherwise they will have their visas cancelled and risk being deported.
The Federal Government, last week announced a $19.4 million funding for a new congestion-busting plan that will have visas of migrants willing to settle in regional areas prioritised.
However, if they move from those areas before they get permanent residency, their visas will be cancelled.
“The visa applies for work in that area. So, you can’t go and work somewhere else. It’s [the visa] actually linked to that specific area,” Immigration Minister David Coleman said after the COAG meeting in Canberra last week.
“They would have to seek another visa and they wouldn’t have that visa. It would be unlikely, to be frank, that they would obtain it and they wouldn’t be able to obtain permanent residency if they did that.”
Mr Coleman said the plan would encourage migrants to move to the areas that have had persistent issues of labour shortage.
However, Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann is blaming the federal government for the problem.
“You should give incentives to people to move into these areas. That’s what we will focus on – making sure that people move into these areas and build communities," he told SBS Punjabi.
“The current government’s problem at the moment, in terms of making sure that people go into regional communities very much driven by the fact that they aren’t processing visas. We have 197,000 people on bridging visas – an increase of 38,000 in the last 12 months. If we have those visas processed, you can imagine more people would be in regional communities,” he added.
Mr Coleman said the government is considering pumping more resources into the processing of regional visas.
“What that means is that if you apply for a regional visa, the time it takes that will be reduced which is a good thing that encourages people to move into regional areas,” he said.
With an enhanced focus on regional settlement of migrants, Mr Coleman said the immigration intake will come down and that the federal government is discussing Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) with multiple regional areas that need more labour.
“We know that in Sydney and Melbourne and southeast Queensland, those congestion issues are very real. Those are very real. And we also know that in so many parts of Australia, local and state government are literally crying out for more people. So, the distribution can be better aligned,” Mr Coleman said.
Mr Neumann said that if Labor wins the next election, their government would take the “best advice” on setting the immigration intake level.
“I have said before 190,000 was about right previously. We will get the best advice and set the level accordingly,” the Shadow Immigration Minister said.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that will justify [cutting down the immigration intake], and the Liberals have never provided us with any evidence with relation to that.“
The Federal Government has recently signed a revised DAMA with the Northern Territory that provides visa holders with a pathway to permanent residency.
The same agreement has also been announced for the Great South Coast region of Victoria and it's currently under discussion for the Orana region in NSW and Cairns in Queensland.