The Minister of Regional Services for Australia has recently announced the expansion of the Work and Holiday visa for young Thai nationals. These changes will be made to help satisfy the significant skill shortages that are currently affecting regional areas in Australia. 

Minister Coulton stated that, “By expanding this successful programme to more young people, we are helping regional areas access the workforce they need to produce and grow their economies”. 

Furthermore, the Minister of Regional Services hopes that these improvements will help deliver advanced economic opportunities to regional Australia and help decentralise the government and the economy. 

On November 16, 2019, the Australian Government will be introducing several other significant expansions to the regional Australia migration program, including: 

  • Expanding the definition of ‘Regional Australia’ 

From November 16, 2019, the definition of ‘Regional Australia’ will expand to include both the Gold Coast and Perth. The locations that are currently listed as ‘Regional’ in Australia also include Sunshine Coast, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong, Geelong, Hobart and Adelaide. 

  1. Category 1 – ‘Major Cities’ of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane do not receive any regional incentives 
  2. 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 
  3. Category 3 – ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’ 
  • Adding 2,000 visa spots to the program. 

According to the Australian Department of Home Affairs, 25,000 people will now be eligible for the regional migration program in Australia. This is great news for foreign nationals, as there will be more spots available than ever before in the regional program. There will also be priority processing for these types of visas, as well as access to additional occupations through the Regional Occupational List. 

  • New Skilled Regional Visas*   

From November 16, 2019, there will be two new Skilled Regional (Provisional) visas available that will provide a clear pathway to permanent residency. The Department will also be adding a new Skilled Regional permanent resident visa which will be available by the end of the year. 

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) will be overseas workers that are nominated by a State or Territory government, or are sponsored by an eligible family member to work, as well as live in regional Australia. The Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) will be for people that are sponsored by an employer in regional Australia. In order to be eligible to apply for permanent residency, the visa holders of these new regional visas, must show that they have lived and worked in regional Australia whilst holding one of these types of visas. The earliest date that a visa holder could apply for the new Permanent Residency (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) is from November 2022. 

*Note: This will have no impact upon existing skilled visa holders. 

  • Improving the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa 

From November 16, 2019, international students that wish to study in regional areas, or are currently completing studies in regional universities in Australia, will be able to access further benefits. International students that are studying in universities located in cities or major regional centres will be able to access the second Temporary Gradate visa for an additional year. International students that are currently studying at universities that are located in regional centres or other regional areas will be able to access the second Temporary Graduate visa for an additional two years. Under the current subclass 485 visa rules, there is a maximum of one visa that can be granted. These changes give regional students more opportunity, as they will now be able to apply for a second subclass 485 visa. 

  • Other Expansions: 

According to Minister Coulton, Thai nationals that complete three months of specified work in a regional area in Australia will be allowed to apply for a second Work and Holiday Visa. From January 2020, those that hold a second-year visa will also be able to apply for a third year WHM visa, given that they undertake an additional six months specified work in regional areas during their second year. Currently, the Work and Holiday arrangements and visa options in Australia are available in 44 countries. 

What does the future of Australian Immigration look like? 

The major policy predictions that have been made for 2020 include: 

  • Focusing on regional Australia
  • Infrastructure agenda 
  • Reform future visa service delivery 
  • Focusing on innovation 

If you need assistance or advice with your visa application, Results Migration are the best in the field, with a team of experienced registered migration agents that are available to guide you through this complex area of law. Call Results Migration on 1800 808 717 or email us on [email protected] and book your free consultation today!