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The Australian Government, in consultation with state and territory governments and regional development authorities introduced a range of State Specific and Regional Migration (SSRM) initiatives designed to help state and territory governments to:
- address skill shortages that may exist in their jurisdiction
- attract overseas business people to establish new or joint ventures in their regions
- encourage a more balanced settlement of Australia's skilled migrant intake.
These initiatives include flexible criteria which recognise the special circumstances of rural and regional areas. They aim to attract young, skilled, English speaking migrants to areas of Australia where they are most needed. Skilled migration visas which are sponsored by regional employers or state and territory governments receive priority processing. This enables state and territory governments and regional employers to influence the number and profile of skilled migrants settling in their areas in line with their skill needs and development objectives.
Research into population distribution in Australia shows three major factors in determining where migrants settle:
- the location of family members
- the availability of employment
- business opportunities.
The SSRM initiatives are consistent with these findings and are described below.
Skilled – Regional Sponsored (provisional) visa
The Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 489) visa is for skilled people who want to live and work in a specified designated area in Australia.
Applicants for this visa must:
- be sponsored by an eligible Australian relative living in a designated area of Australia or nominated by a state or territory government agency (through their State Migration Plan)
- meet basic requirements including being under 50 years of age, have competent English language ability, nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List and have their skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority for that occupation.
- meet the passmark in the Points test.
Successful applicants are granted a four year temporary visa to give them time to satisfy the residence and employment criteria for a permanent visa.
Applicants (including secondary applicants) must live, work and study only in a specified regional area of Australia for at least 2 years.
Further information on the Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 489) visa is available on SkillSelect.
Pathway to permanent residence
When a Skilled – Regional Sponsored (provisional) visa holder has held their visa for at least two years they can apply for the permanent Skilled - Regional (subclass 887) visa provided they have lived for two years and worked full time for at least one year in a specified regional area in Australia.
Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa holders also have the option of applying for a permanent visa with the support of a regional employer in regional Australia at any time.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme
The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) is specifically designed to assist regional employers nominate skilled migrants to fill a full time vacancy (available for at least two years) when there is a genuine need for a paid employee in a business located in regional Australia.
The RSMS category is not points tested and applicants may be overseas or already in Australia on a temporary visa. RSMS covers all areas of Australia except Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne.
Generally, applicants under the RSMS need to be less than 50 years of age, meet a certain level of English language proficiency and have qualifications and skill requirements relevant to the nominated occupation.
There are objective exemptions available for age, skills and English language ability. Please see the following fact sheet for more information.
See: Age, Skill and English Language Exemptions – Permanent Employer Sponsored Program
Regional Certifying Bodies
Regional Certifying Bodies (RCBs) are a diverse network of state and territory government agencies, local chambers of commerce, local government councils and regional development bodies. Advice provided by an RCB is intended to ensure all RSMS Direct Entry stream nominations have been scrutinised by a third party who is familiar with local labour market conditions and who may be able to provide information on regional matters which the Department may not be aware of.
Currently there are a range of RCBs covering regional areas in all states and territories.
See: Regional Certifying Bodies
State/Territory nomination for Business Innovation and Investment visa applicants
The Business Innovation and Investment visa program is a state and territory government nominated visa program. This allows state and territory governments to attract business people to assist in the economic development of specific areas. In particular, state and territory governments are actively encouraging business skills migrants to set up business in regional, rural or low population growth areas.
Under this category the majority of business skills migrants will enter Australia on a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa for four years.
After satisfactory evidence of a specified level of business or investment activity, holders of Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visas may apply for permanent residence under the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa.
The Business Innovation and Investment program is designed to increase entrepreneurial talent and diversify business expertise in Australia. It is positioned to target migrants that have a demonstrated history of success in innovation and business and are able to make a significant contribution to the national innovation system and to the Australian economy.
Generally business migrants need to be less than 55 years of age, unless the business is determined to be of exceptional economic benefit.
Temporary Entry Initiatives
In addition to the regional migration initiatives above, which lead to permanent residence in Australia, the following initiatives relate to temporary residence.
Investor Retirement visa
The Investor Retirement visa enables state and territory governments to sponsor self-funded retirees to settle in regional, rural and low population growth areas of Australia.
Applicants must be 55 years or older, have no dependents other than a partner, significant assets and investment or pensions that can be used to establish a lifestyle in Australia and to generate income. They will be required to pay a second visa application charge to offset the possible cost of accessing aged care or nursing home services at a future time.
Working Holiday visa
People who undertake a minimum of three months of specified work in regional Australia, on their first Working Holiday visa, may apply for a second Working Holiday visa. This encourages more people on Working Holiday visas to work in regional Australia and will also help make the Australian tourism industry more competitive in attracting these valuable tourists.
Australian state and territory governments encourage more skilled migrants to settle in many regions of Australia.
See: Regional Initiatives – Overview
Further information is available on the department's website.
The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone: 131 881
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.
Fact Sheet 26. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed July 2012.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2010.