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Immigration Matters | Regional Migration Program – new regional visa announcement


Vol. 3 | 1 April 2019

The Department of Home Affairs announced last month that they will be introducing two new skilled regional provisional visas in November 2019. There is a push by State and Territory Government as well as regional employers to attract skilled talent to regional areas to fill skills shortages while also easing congestion in the major cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. The Government will reserve 23,000 places for this regional program.

The two visas available in November 2019:

  1. Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa: For those who will be sponsored by an employer in regional Australia;
  2. Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)visa: For those who are nominated by a state or territory government or who are sponsored by an eligible family member.

The visa applicants will be required to live and work in regional Australia for at least three years before they would become eligible to apply for permanent residence. These visas will be granted with a five year validity.

It is hoped that with the introduction of these regional provisional visas, employers will be able to attract skilled and semi-skilled talent to their communities. These visas will be afforded priority processing and access to a larger list of eligible occupations.

With the introduction of the above two visas, a new permanent skilled regional visa pathway will also be introduced to those holding the above visas and this will be available in November 2022. The Department have also advised that the definition of Regional Australia will be updated and simplified in November 2019 to cover all of Australia except for the following metropolitan areas:

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA’s)

The DAMA is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and specific regional area whereby a contract can be negotiated for those states, territories or regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions. Under this agreement regional employers who are experiencing recruitment issues and labour shortages in their community or region can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers where a local Australian worker cannot fill the role.

The DAMA for the Northern Territory has been operating since 2015 and a second agreement was approved in January 2019 for a further five years to include pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders.

It was also announced last month that South Australia will have two DAMA’s approved: The Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement and Regional South Australia agreement. These two agreements will assist industries in South Australia to fill skills shortages and industries such as agriculture, forestry, hospitality, tourism, health and construction will be beneficiaries.

These announcements come as a welcomed advancement in encouraging people to live and work in regional Australia. Under the five year Regional South Australia DAMA, 114 occupations will be available for sponsorship allowing up to 750 people per year to apply for these visas.

The Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement DAMA will allow 60 occupations to be sponsored and a cap of 300 people per year can apply for these positions.

Joining the Northern Territory DAMA and the South Australian DAMAs is the more recently approved of the West Australian Goldfields DAMA for the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

This DAMA is also subject to a five year approval period and will cover 73 occupations and have a cap of 500 applications per year.  This agreement is set to assist industries including mining, engineering, construction, childcare and health among others in securing economic growth for this region.

Mr Coleman was quoted as saying: “Our first priority is always to fill jobs with Australians, but the immigration system can play an important role in helping to address regional skills gaps”.

If done correctly, this will see regional areas flourish and fill critical employment gaps that employers in these areas have struggled to fill for years.

We can expect to see more of these DAMA’s negotiated over the coming months as the Government engages with regional communities around Australia and assists them in creating tailored solutions to help fill ongoing skills gaps.   Providing a clear migration pathway, including a potential to transition to permanent residence, will certainly assist in attracting more migrants away from major metropolitan areas.

Need to know more?

If you would like to discuss any of the above changes or have a separate immigration query, please reach out to:

  • Email queries:
  • Telephone queries: Sarah Pettit, Principal – +61 8 9485 4200

Source: Skilled newsletter, Department of Home Affairs.

Written by
Sarah Pettit
Sarah has been providing Australian and overseas businesses with immigration advice for over 18 years. With extensive experience and specialisation in corporate migration, Sarah has worked with some of Australia's largest corporations across multiple industries including Oil & Gas and Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Health, Banking and Education.