With Australia in the midst of a population boom that is placing its major cities under mounting pressure, the Federal Government has announced a new initiative that is designed to attract domestic and international students and workers to regional* areas of the country. This policy aims to not only maintain Australia’s strong position in the international education market, but also match migration to the needs of rural areas.
With job vacancies to the tune of almost 47,000 existing in Australia’s regions, the Government is opening its doors to skilled and talented migrants to help bolster the workforce and equip rural areas with vital resources. This revamped initiative aims to provide additional incentive for international students to study, work and live in regional Australia, where they can progress their studies or careers while enjoying a unique and enviable lifestyle.
This policy has a number of components that may be of interest to prospective international students and skilled migrant workers. We’ve broken them down below to outline what may potentially be available to you.
New regional visas
The Australian Government has introduced two new regional visas, with 23,000 places available to prospective skilled migrant workers. Holders of this visa will be required to live and work in regional Australia for at least three years before they are able to apply for permanent residency in the Land Down Under. While a year has been added onto the required living period (it was formerly two years), skilled migrants living and working in Australia on this visa will be rewarded through access to priority visa processing and a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupations list to choose from.
New tertiary scholarships
Over 4,000 scholarships will be awarded over the next four years to encourage both domestic and international students to study at Australia’s regional universities. Approximately 1,000 scholarships, each worth $15,000, will be granted to both Australian and international students every year under this policy. However, these scholarships will only be available to students who choose to study at regional universities around the country.
Additional year granted to Temporary Graduate Visa holders
International students who choose to study at universities in regional Australia under the new scholarship program will be further rewarded with access to an additional year on their Temporary Graduate Visa#. For undergraduates, this brings the total length of the visa to three years; for PhD students, this extends their visa to five years.
*The Government defines regional Australia as all areas of Australia except for Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
#These proposed visa changes won’t affect current visa holders, and applications lodged prior to the November 2019 implementation date will be processed as per usual. The Department of Home Affairs has also stated that there will be no impact on the permanent residence of current permanent visa holders.