Skilled Migration Process

Regional Visas Changes

Regional Visas Changes

Currently, Australia’s regional migration is delivered via Skilled Regional visas and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). The former are for skilled migrants who are nominated by state/territory governments or sponsored by an eligible relative to live and work in regional Australia. The latter enables employers in regional and low population growth areas of Australia to sponsor skilled employees. In 2017-2018 regional migration made up only 7% of the Skilled migration program outcome with 1574 places taken by Skilled Regional visas and 6221 places filled by RSMS. However, things are about to change big-time with the Australian government’s plan to introduce new measures that will better align migration outcomes with the needs of regional Australia and will support population growth in smaller cities and regions.
Australia Regional Visas Changes


From 16 November 2019 Skilled Work Regional(SWR) visa will replace Skilled Regional visa and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional(SESR) visa will replace RSMS. Both SWR and SESR are provisional visas that allow skilled workers to live and work in regional Australia for five years. The third new visa, Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional), will be introduced from 16 November 2022 that will allow holders of new regional visas to access permanent residency after three years.

In addition, the definition of Regional Australia will be simplified and expanded to include all of Australia except for the following metropolitan areas:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane

Other incentives to attract new migrants to settle outside of the big cities will include:

  • Increased number of places for new regional visas, 25,000 is set aside for 2019-2020
  • Increased points test points for regional nomination or sponsorship under SWR visa
  • The new regional visas will receive priority processing
  • Employers in regional Australia and State/Territory governments, who sponsor regional skilled migrants, will have access to more occupations than the equivalent non-regional visas:
  • SWR will have access to 504 eligible occupations (77 more than the closet equivalent non-regional visa)
  • SESR will have access to 673 eligible occupations (over 450 more occupations than the closet equivalent non-regional visa)

Moreover, the ratio of State nominated visas versus new Regional nominated visas will be gradually shifting in favour of the regions. From 16 November 2019 this ratio will be 40% vs 60% respectively. From 1 July 2020 Regional nominations will take up 75% of the total allocations of nominated places for each state or territory.

The Government will also provide up to 4,720 scholarships over the next four years for domestic and international students to study at regional campuses of Australian universities or other vocational education and training providers. In addition, a new graduate visa, Temporary Graduate Regional, will be available from 2021 for international students who have graduated with a higher education or post graduate qualification after studying in regional Australia.

Coupled with a 50% decrease in the number of places allocated for skilled independent visas and an estimated 47,000 job vacancies in regional Australia, the new regional initiatives will ensure that more migrants are coming to regional Australia that will stay in regions longer-term and will be more likely to build stronger ties to regional locations through work and study activities and community involvement.

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