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Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa

This is a permanent residency employer sponsored visa for skilled workers who want to work in regional Australia. The range of occupations that a regional employer can sponsor an overseas worker under is broader than other employer based work visas.

The visa generally involves a three-step process, being:

1. An employer in regional Australia applies to a “Regional Certifying Body” to have an open position in their business certified as being genuine (this does not apply to applications to be made under the “Temporary Residence Transition Stream” – please see below).

2. The Australia employer nominates an overseas worker for the open position in their business.

3. The nominated employee applies for the visa.

Three Streams

The visa has three streams under which an applicant can apply under:

1. Direct Entry Stream

This stream is for applicants who have never, or only briefly, worked in Australia and as such do not qualify under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

2. Temporary Residence Transition Stream

This stream is for holders of a Subclass 457 Visa who have worked for their nominating employer for 2 years in their nominated occupation and their employer wants to offer them a full-time position in that same occupation.

3. Agreement Stream

This stream is for holders of a Subclass 457 Visa who have been nominated by their regional employer through a Labour Agreement.

Nomination

The eligibility criteria for nomination comprises criteria that are common to all three streams, as well as specific criteria that applies individually to each of the three streams.

Common Criteria

A prospective employer must:

1. be actively and lawfully operating a business in Australia;

2. be located employer in “Regional Australia” . Regional Australia basically comprises anywhere except Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne;

3. nominate the visa applicant for a position which corresponds to an occupation at Skill Level 1 through 3 within the ANZCO framework;

4. have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position in their business;

5. offer the visa applicant a skilled position that is consistent with their education and/or work background that is full-time and ongoing for at least two years;

6. offer the visa applicant terms and conditions of employment that are the same that would apply to an Australian Citizen or Australian Permanent Resident performing the same work at the same location, including agreeing to pay the visa applicant the “Market Salary Rate”.

Eligibility Criteria – Direct Entry Stream

Under this stream, if an employer wants to nominate an applicant to fill a position that is full-time, ongoing and available for at least two years, the occupation associated with the open position must be contained on the following lists:

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00847

The employer must obtain advice from a regional certifying body about the position they want the visa applicant to fill. The regional certifying body assesses whether:

1. there is a genuine need for a paid employee in the business operated by the employer that is actively and lawfully operating in a regional area of Australia;

2. the terms and conditions of employment are the same as those that would apply to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing the same work in the same location; and

3. the nominated position cannot reasonably be filled from the local labour market.​

Eligibility Criteria – Temporary Resident Transition Stream

Under this stream, if an employer wants to nominate a visa applicant to fill a position that is full-time, ongoing and available for at least two years, the employer must:

1. be the visa applicants’ standard business sponsor for their Subclass 457 visa;

2. not be subject to a labour agreement;

3. sponsor the visa applicant for the same nominated position in their business that they sponsored the visa applicant for their Subclass 457 for at least two years before the nomination is lodged;

4. identify an occupation (for the position) that has the same four-digit occupation unit group code as the Subclass 457 approved occupation that is consistent with the position in which the visa applicant has already worked in their business as a Subclass 457 Visa holder for at least 2 years;

5. have met the subclass 457 training requirements in each year they have been a standard business sponsor;

6. not be an approved overseas standard business sponsor under the subclass 457 visa programme.

Eligibility Criteria – Agreement Stream

This stream is for employers who have negotiated a labour agreement with the Australian Government.

Visa Application

The eligibility criteria for this visa comprises criteria that are common to all three streams, as well as specific criteria that applies only to each of the three streams.

Common Eligibility Criteria

Under all three streams, the visa applicant must:

1. have been nominated by an approved Australian employer in regional Australia within six months before they apply;

2. be under 50 at the time they apply for the visa (there are some limited exemptions to this);

3. hold any mandatory registration, license or professional membership required to work in their nominated occupation; and

4. meet health and character requirements.

Eligibility Criteria – Direct Entry Stream

If the visa applicant is applying under this stream, they must also:

1. prove they have at least “competent” English, most commonly evidenced by providing IELTS Results with a minimum score of 6 in each of the 4 test components (note: there are exemptions to proving English language ability for 1) certain passport holders 2) persons who have studied full-time for at least 5 years in a secondary or higher educational institution where all tuition was delivered in English and 3) other limited circumstances);

2. if required, obtain a positive skills assessment (most applicants do not require a skills assessment, though some do), or alternatively, prove that they have the qualifications necessary to perform the tasks of their occupation as listed in the ANZCO.

Eligibility Criteria – Temporary Resident Transition Stream

If the visa applicant is applying under this stream, they must also:

1. prove that they have at least “functional” English, most commonly evidenced by providing IELTS results with a minimum score of at least 5 in each of the 4 test components (note: there are exemptions to proving English language ability for 1) certain passport holders 2) persons who have studied full-time for at least 5 years in a secondary or higher educational institution where all tuition was delivered in English and 3) other limited circumstances);

2. have worked for at least 2 years in the position their Subclass 457 employer nominated them for while they held their Subclass 457 Visa.

Eligibility Criteria – Agreement Stream

A Labour Agreement or Regional Migration Agreement is an agreement negotiated between the Australian Government and an employer in Australia.

Under the agreement, there are negotiated terms as to age, skill and English language requirements that apply to agreement holders who want to sponsor foreign workers.

Including Family Members

The visa applicant can include certain family members in their visa application, such as their spouse, de-facto partner, dependent children and certain other relatives if they are financially dependent on the visa applicant.

Migrating family members who are 18 years of age or older and are included in an application should provide evidence that they have at least “functional” English. This is most commonly evidenced by them achieving a score of at least 4.5 in all 4 test components of the IELTS test, though there are exemptions to the requirement similar to those mentioned above. If migrating family members cannot prove they have functional English, a very substantial extra charge(s) will be levied before the visa can be granted.

Where you can lodge an application

The visa applicant can lodge the visa either inside or outside of Australia. If they lodge the application in Australia, they will be granted a Bridging Visa which will allow them to stay in Australia until their visa application is finalized. If they lodge their visa application in Australia, they must be in Australia for the visa to be granted.

If they lodge the visa application outside of Australia, they must be outside of Australia for the visa to be granted.

Expression of Interest

If a visa applicant does not have an employer who will nominate them to work in regional Australia, they are still able to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the Australian Government Skill Select database.

Potential employers and Australian state/territory governments can then view a potential applicant’s suitability, skills and qualifications, and decide whether to sponsor them for skilled migration to Australia.

Contact Us

Our experienced immigration lawyers will ensure your application is given the best prospects of success.

We offer all our prospective clients an initial meeting, during which we will thoroughly explain the law surrounding this visa to you and inform you of the process moving forward.

To organize a initial consultation with us, please contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers on (02) 9590 3987.