Perth and Gold Coast will now be reclassified as regional areas in a bid to attract regional migrants. Beforehand, Perth and Gold Coast, along with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were considered metro areas under the Federal Government’s migration classification. Since this change, the definition of ‘regional Australia’ for migration purposes will change. The Gold Coast and Perth will no longer be classified as “major cities” to assist the areas to draw more international students and skilled migrants. The Australian Government is simplifying the definition of Regional Australia across all skilled visas.
The meaning of Regional Australia will be expanded and clarified in Nov 2019 to include all of Australia except for the following metropolitan areas: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Gold Coast. The new definition will create single continuous borders, as defined by postcodes, around these metropolitan areas. A list of postcodes representing the regional area will be available in due time.
Areas in the new regional definition will hold access to the two new skilled regional provisional visas, which enable employers and migrants to access an expanded variety of jobs as well as getting priority processing. This approach will provide consistency across skilled visa programs and provide more regional businesses to obtain skills in short supply through regional migration programs. The new definition will come into effect on 16th November. The changes will make it easier to migrate to the Gold Coast and Perth for skilled workers and international students.
The change is necessary for skilled workers seeking to apply for the now regional visas commencing 16th November 2019 notably:
- Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)- (Will be replacing the current Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (Subclass 187) starting from the 16th November 2019). The 494 visa will have 9,000 places allocated per year. It will require employer sponsorship and the position must be expected to exist for five years. This visa has a 45 year age limit. The applicant must show competent English, Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RCB) advice and must meet the Annual Market Salary Rate (AMSR). All visa applicants must have a suitable skills assessment and at least three years of skilled employment.
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) (Will be replacing the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187)). This visa will allow eligible skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in designated regional areas of Australia for five years. Visa holders will be available to apply for a Permanent Residence visa after three years. Applicants for this visa must be nominated by:
- Sponsored by an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area and be invited to apply for the visa, following submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect or
- An Australian state or territory government agency
The reclassification of the regional areas will mean that students will be eligible for:
- an additional one year for the graduate 485 visa
- further 5 points in the Skilled visa points grid for studying in a regional area
The reclassification would improve the regions ability to draw overseas skilled workers and international students and enable businesses to source their skilled workforce from foreign workers.
In March this year, the Government declared it would decrease the permanent migration cap from 190,000 places to 160,000 places, and within that set aside 23,000 places for regional visas. Following unprecedented growth (124 per cent) in the number of regional visas granted in the first quarter of this programme year, the Government is raising the total number of regional places to 25,000.
David Coleman, Immigration Minister, announced six thousand visas were approved under the program in the initial three months of this financial year, compared with under three thousand in the final quarter of 2018/19 and before the initiative getting underway.
“So we have seen a very strong start to the year in encouraging regional migration,’ Mr David Coleman told reporters in Sydney.
The program will see fewer people settling in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and more settling outside the three big cities.
“We think that is a good thing because we know that in regional Australia, (and) in other small and medium-sized cities, there is a lot of demand for skilled migration,” Mr Coleman said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “These changes will boost the appeal for so many cities and regional centres that are looking to grow their population to support local services like schools and health care, while attracting new workers and students, meaning more jobs and more investment.”
Labor reported the change in Gold Coast’s status as an “embarrassing backflip” by the Government, having previously been adamant that such a move wouldn’t happen.
“Today, they buckled under pressure from Labor, the higher education sector, Study Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Bulletin,” opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally and Labor senator Murray Watt said in a statement.
“Labor supports opportunities for people to settle in regional areas and the government should be doing everything possible to make settling in regional communities an attractive option for potential migrants.”
On Perth’s inclusion as a regional centre for migration purposes, WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan said it would enhance the state’s appeal to international students. “This is something that will help us grow the economy, create more jobs, create a better opportunity for people here in Western Australia to get ahead,” he told reporters.