In early 2023, regional migration visas in Australia were under a cloud of uncertainty. The Parkinson Report Migration, released in March 2023, failed to offer any guidance or support for regional migration options.
The final report suggests a recalibration of the skilled points test and even proposes the removal of points for regional study. It states, “In conjunction with this measure, existing regional concessions in mainstream permanent phases, such as additional points for regional study, could be removed to ensure those programs are strongly focused on selecting migrants who will best meet national economic objectives.”
Additionally, state nomination applications in Australia across all states were reduced by 70% from July 1, 2023, marking a significant downturn in the 2023-24 financial year.
However, early 2024 has seen positive developments in regional migration policy.
Migration Policy Developments 2024
Regional employer-sponsored nominations visas such as 482, 186, 494, and DAMAs are now the top priority in ministerial processing directives. This means they are processed above all others, including professions in teaching and health that were previously given high priority.
This shift demonstrates the Federal Government is encouraging migration to regional areas.
The new Skills in Demand Visa Australia includes an "Essential Skills" category visa for lower-skilled occupations, such as carers, with potential salaries below A$70,000. These visas aim to supply workers to regional areas for both caregiving and agricultural roles.
For the 2024 to 2025 financial year, skilled points visas, including the 189, 190, and 491 visas, will remain unchanged. The 491 Visa, designed for regional areas, continues to be available, dispelling rumors of its abolition in the Migration Review.
Why is regional migration regaining favour?
Several factors are at play, including a strong demand from industries and communities in regional Australia for migrants. Furthermore, the housing crisis has prompted the federal government to encourage migration away from Australia's largest cities, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
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