The Australian Government has announced two new provisional visa categories and a new permanent visa, effective November 2019.
The provisional visas will consist of a Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional visa which will require sponsorship by an employer in a regional area, and a Skilled Work Regional visa, which will require nomination by a state or territory government, or sponsorship by an eligible family member located in a regional area.
The employer-sponsored visa will have priority processing and a list of around 700 occupations that can be sponsored. 9000 have been allocated to this visa in the 2019/20 program. It is expected that the Skilled Work Regional visa will have a list of around 500 eligible occupations, with 14,000 places allocated in 2019/20.
Both provisional visas will be valid for five years, with a pathway to the new permanent visas after three years provided the visa holder remains working and living in a regional area of Australia. The new visas should provide a benefit for employers operating in regional areas, where finding the right employee can be challenging.
The government has announced that the target ceiling for the migration program in the next financial year (2019 -2020), will be 160,000 visas. This is not significantly lower than the actual outcome for the 2017/18 year (162,417 visas against a planned level of 190,000). The 2018/19 program year also has a planned outcome of 190,000 visas but if the trend continues from the previous year, the actual figure may not come in too far from the planned level for 2019/20.
The emphasis will continue to be on the skilled categories, with close to 70% of the program comprising the skilled categories of employer-sponsored, skilled independent, state/territory nominated and business skilled visas.
The program will see an increased targeting of migrants willing to settle in regional areas of Australia. These are areas outside of the metropolitan centres of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.