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Regional Visas to be prioritised

Australia has a new Migration Minister David Coleman.  Hon David Coleman is a member for Banks, New South Wales.  Prior to entering politics, Hon David Coleman worked in the private sector, principally in the media and technology industries. He was Director of Strategy and Digital and Nine Entertainment Co, Chairman of ninemsn, and held board positions with a number of other companies including Sky News and 3P Learning, the operator of the Mathletics business.   He also worked with the management consulting firm McKinsey and Co, and had his own consulting business. In his recent interview with SBS, the Minister of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs advised that regional visas will be given a priority under his portfolio.  It is also worthwhile noting that immigration portfolio no longer falls under Home Affairs Ministry. 

According to latest statistics published by Home Affairs, approximately 128,550 places were allocated to skilled migrants and of those, approximately 16,000 were regional visa grants. 

There are several consequences which are to be expected: 

  • Realignment of allocated places for regional visas such as subclass 489 regional (provisional visas).  This visa allows skilled workers to live and work in regional or low-population growth metropolitan areas of Australia for up to four years.  This visa also offers a pathway of permanent residence for migrants who have demonstrated commitment to living in a regional area. Recent invitation round published on Home Affairs website for August 2018 indicated that a mere 10 invitations were issued for this subclass.  This is a sharp drop compared to last years’ figures where approximately 250 invitations were issued for the same month 
  • Greater focus on RSMS program.  Currently this visa allows employers to nominate foreign workers for permanent residence to fill genuine vacancies in their business. Participation in the RSMS is restricted to businesses actively and lawfully operating in regional Australia.  Regional Australia has the meaning as outlined in the relevant legislative instrument and does not include major cities Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth.  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 
  • Expansion of Regional Occupation List (ROL).  This list designed to include occupations that are in need in regional areas.  ROL is updated on a regular basis on advice by the Department Jobs and Small Businesses.  Migrants can access ROL if their occupation is located in a regional area (for example, direct access to subclass 482 and 186 visas).  The Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business is a department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility for employment, job services and the labour market, workplace relations, small business, and deregulation 
  • Greater focus on Labour Agreements.  Labour agreements enable approved businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers when there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and standard temporary or permanent visa programs are not available. Labour agreements are developed between the Australian Government (represented by the Department) and employers. They are generally in effect for five years and provide for visas and offer a pathway to permanent residence.  The government has been vocal on use of Labour Agreements as a solution to skills shortages in regional areas.  There are also industry specific labour agreements including dairy, fishing, meat, pork and restaurant 

With regards to Australian Citizenship, it is yet to be fully understood whether the Minister will reintroduce controversial Citizenship bill which was quashed in the Senate last year due to harsh requirements such English language, residency and character requirements.  

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