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Regional Skilled Migration

The Australian government released a plan on 20 March 2019, for Australia’s future population, reducing the annual migration intake by 30,000 places, i.e. from the current 190,000 to 160,000.

In the plan, the government has introduced two new regional visas for skilled workers to live and work in regional Australia for three years, before they can access permanent residency in Australia.

Among the 160,000 annual migration intake places, the government will allocate 23,000 under the two newly introduced regional skilled visas.

The aim of the regional visas is to reduce the burden on major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast due to increasing population at the same time addressing the need of smaller centres and regions looking for growth.

What does it mean for Migrants?

Under the two new regional visa categories, skilled migrants will be prioritised and will have access to a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in the metropolitan cities.

There will also be additional points for certain points-tested migrants who are sponsored to settle in regional Australia.

The two new regional skilled visas are expected to come into effect on 16 November 2019.

Which areas are considered regional?

Most locations of Australia outside major cities—Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth— are eligible for regional visas. Regional Australia is specified under the current Subclass 489 stream, regional area applicable to the new regional visas is expected to be broader. To Find out more, please access the current regional Australia list under s/c 489 visa scheme.

Existing Regional Visa Options

New Regional Visas

There will be two new skilled regional provisional visas introduced in November 2019:

These two visa subclasses will be replacing the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) and Regional Skilled (Provisional) (subclass 489) respectively.

What are the main changes from the existing visa classes compared to the new visa subclasses?

There are several proposed changes once the new regional visa/s come into effect from November 2019.

Unlike the current criteria under the Subclass 489 visa that a visa holder is required to live within the regional state territory of the nominating state, it is intended that regional visa holders may live in any designated regional area and can move between designated regional areas.

The new regional visas will be valid for five years, a year longer than the current subclass 489 visa.

There will be additional points awarded to applicants

Regional visa holders are eligible to apply for a permanent residence visa subclass 191 once they can demonstrate that they have substantially complied with the visa conditions and have met a minimum threshold taxable income level for at least three years whilst holding the regional visa. The taxable income threshold is yet to be announced.

Regional visa holders are restricted from applying for certain visas unless they have completed at least three years in a regional area or there are exceptional circumstances that exist. Visas excluded for regional visa holders include business visa, employer sponsored visa and onshore partner visa.

Who are eligible for those visas?

Applicants are required to be nominated by a state government or sponsored by a relative for a skilled regional visa subclass 491; or to be nominated by an employer under the employer sponsored regional visa subclass 494.

What type of Candidates the states are looking for?

New South Wales

For Subclass 190, priority occupations include: engineering and construction; health professionals; high level ICT occupations and traditional trades.

For Subclass 489, priority occupations vary between regions:


Generic list targets (last updated July 2018): Engineering and building including five years work experience; Some ICT occupations with three years’ work experience; Health with a minimum two years’ work experience; Teaching with a minimum two years’ work experience; Trades with a minimum five years’ work experience

South Australia

The Skilled Occupation List for South Australia has 172 occupations including many ICT occupations; most health professionals; trades; cooks and hairdressers subject to conditions and additional caveats.


Occupations on Queensland Skilled Occupation List includes teaching; engineering; limited accounting occupations; most health occupations; most ICT occupations with five years post-qualification work experience; most trades occupations but for regional Queensland only.


Prioritises teaching professions; agricultural occupations; health professionals; engineering; tourism and hospitality; trades include cooks and hairdressers.

Australian Capital Territory

High priority occupations include construction and engineering professionals; health professionals; teachers; certain ICT occupations and most trades occupations

Good News for those studying in Regional Area

The Australian government’s immigration plan is also designed to divert international students to the regional areas which are crying out for workers and new arrivals.  Those students who study at regional universities will secure an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

How is life in Regional Areas?

Far from being isolated, most regional areas have well established and welcoming communities of migrants.

The great advantages of being in a regional area compared to metropolitan areas are house affordability and a higher standard of living for the average wage earner.

You will also be living among aesthetically beautiful scenery and animals, famous all around the world.

If you are looking at increasing your permanent visa opportunities, you may wish to consider the friendly communities within regional Australia. However, before taking the plunge make sure to verify your visa options carefully with one of our experienced registered migration agents.

Published Wed 8 May 2019.


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