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Regional migration

The Australian Government is committed to supporting migrants to settle in regional areas.

The Australian Government has announced changes to our immigration program to strengthen our economy and boost our regional areas. The changes are:

  • 2 new skilled regional provisional visas that provide a pathway to permanent residence
  • a new skilled regional permanent resident visa
  • a refined definition of ‘regional Australia’ for migration purposes
  • additional points under the Skilled Migration Points Test for skilled migrants nominated to live and work in regional Australia
  • more options for international students who graduate from regional universities

These changes will support regional businesses and local communities thrive by getting the right skills into the right regions.

The Australian Government works closely with state, territory and local governments, and local communities, to attract migrants to regional areas. Skilled migrants settling in regional Australia have a diverse range of available occupations to match their experience, skills and qualifications.

Information sessions

Due to COVID-19, the Department of Home Affairs will not be holding any upcoming information sessions.

New skilled regional visas

There are 2 new skilled regional provisional visas that commenced on 16 November 2019:  

  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) - for people nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) - for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia

To be eligible for permanent residence, holders of the new skilled regional provisional visas will need to show they have lived and worked in regional Australia while holding one of these visas. They can then apply for the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) from November 2022.

Under the changes, regional employers now have access to:

  • more regional occupations to sponsor migrants to work in regional Australia
  • priority processing of regional visa applications
  • additional points for certain points-tested migrants who are sponsored to settle in regional Australia.

Note: there is no impact for existing skilled visa holders.

International graduates studying in a regional area

From 2021, international students studying at all locations outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be offered an extension on the current two year Post-study work stream of the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa (TGV), which applies to Bachelor and Masters by coursework graduates.

Eligibility will include international students who studied at a regional campus of a metropolitan university.

The additional post-study work arrangements will become available in 2021, and will require ongoing residence in a regional area.

  • International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 2 will be eligible for an additional year on a second Temporary Graduate visa.
  • International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 3 will be eligible for an additional two years on a second Temporary Graduate visa.

The initiative will provide an additional incentive for international students to study at a regional institution and to live in regional areas post-study, boosting diversity and prosperity in regional Australia.

At the same time, it will help ease growing infrastructure pressures in our major cities.

There is no change to Student visas. This option is available as an initiative for international students to study and live in regional Australia

Eligible regional areas

The regional definition is comprised of the following 3 categories:

  • Category 1 – ‘Major Cities’ of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane do not receive any regional incentives
  • Category 2 – ‘Cities and Major Regional Centres’ of Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart
  • Category 3 – ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’

The regional definition offers regional incentives for skilled migrants who migrate to locations classified as Category 2 ‘Cities and Major Regional Centres’ or Category 3 ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’.

For further information, see: Designated regional areas.