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Why Choose Regional Australia?

By Emma Gallagher

Thousands of UK families dream of relocating to Australia, and for good reasons. Australia offers excellent job opportunities, an efficient healthcare system, fantastic weather, first-class education, unspoilt nature and a laid-back lifestyle to name only a few of its drawcards. 

Unfortunately for many, the dream of living “Down Under” turns into a long, complicated waiting game with the Majority of UK migrants coming to Australia through the independent skilled migrant pathway. At first, it seems a straight forward process – Check your eligibility, submit an expression of interest (EOI), wait for an invitation and lastly, apply for your visa. For some, it is that easy, but as many people are discovering, waiting for an invitation that may never come is crushing. 

Skilled Migration 

Independent skilled visas are by far the most common skilled pathway to Australia. These visas allow foreign nationals who with suitable qualifications and/or experience in occupations deemed to be in demand, to live in Australia as permanent residents. To be eligible for a skilled visa, you must have a profession that is listed on one of the relevant Australian skilled occupations lists. You must score a minimum number of points in a “points test”. The Australian Government award points based on age, level of qualifications attained, years of work experience, English language competency as well as other factors depending on the applicant’s circumstances. 

From July 2018 the minimum points required for skilled visas increased from 60 to 65 points. However the number of places that can be invited in a year is set by the Australian government, and the competition is fierce. The sheer number of applicants vying for these invitation means that currently, you are unlikely to receive an invitation to apply with less than 80 points (some occupations are now requiring as much as 90 points to receive an invite). 

Cyrus Mistry (a Perth-based Registered Migration Agent) explains that “scoring enough points is particularly difficult for older applicants with trade skills, which are in particular demand in some areas of Australia”. Mr Mistry says that he regularly sees UK applicants on waitlists for up two years. Anthony Kelly from Northern Ireland was one of these people. Having achieved the minimum 60 points required in August 2017, Mr Kelly lodged his expression of interest with the hope he would be living in Australia by mid-2018. Unfortunately, having waited two years without receiving an invite to apply, Mr Kelly instead received an email on August 2019 that his EOI had expired. This is a disappointing reality for thousands of well-intentioned prospective applicants every year. 

Mr Kelly said he had considered giving up on moving to Australia and was considering other destinations when he was advised by Mr Mistry to consider different visa pathways offered in regional Australia. Fortunately for Mr Kelly, he heeded his Agent’s advice and is now happily living in Australia, having obtained a Skilled Regional visa to live and work in Australia’s Northern Territory. This visa allows Mr Kelly to live and work in regional Australia and, subject to living and working in regional Australia for a specified period, offers a pathway to permanent residence. Mr Kelly said he could not be more happy with the outcome and that he would still be waiting in the UK if it had not been for the advice to consider the opportunities in regional Australia. 

Regional Australia Pathways 

The Australian Government has recently made it a focus of its Migration program to tackle the impacts of an increasing population in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne by promoting visa pathways in Regional Australia where there is an appetite for population growth and, in particular, considerable demand for skilled migrants. 

One such visa pathway has been the expansion of the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) scheme. These are labour agreements allowing eligible employers in designated regional areas to access skilled and semi-skilled workers from overseas to fill local labour market shortages. Mr Mistry advises that DAMAs are an increasing focus of the Australian Government’s migration program and that several DAMAs has been announced in the last six months, with more DAMA applications in the pipeline. Currently, there are DAMAs in place in the Northern Territory, the Goldfields in Western Australia, Great South Coast in Victoria, Adelaide City, Regional South Australia, Orana region in New South Wales and Far North Queensland – with more expected to be announced soon. 

The Goldfields region in Western Australia currently has DAMA covering 73 occupations. The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, located less than 600km from Perth, has been particularly vocal in their desire to have skilled migrants come to live in and grow their regional communities. Kalgoorlie-Boulder boasts small-town “old-school Australian” lifestyle where everyone comes together as a family. According to the CEO of the City, Kalgoorlie-Boulder has an estimated 1,500 job vacancies in a range of industries including mining, engineering, construction, healthcare, childcare and hospitality (amongst others). 

Earlier this year the Australian government announced two new regional visas to commence in November 2019 – the subclass 491 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa which will have 14,000 places allocated in the first year and the subclass 494 Skilled Employer-Sponsored visas which will have 9000 places allocated to it this financial year

Mr Kelly, who migrated to regional Australia earlier this year, said that people should not be discouraged by regional Australia but should instead see it as an opportunity to fulfil their dream of living in Australia. Fiona Ward, who migrated to Kalgoorlie-Boulder eight years ago, said she thought she would prefer Sydney or Melbourne, but they were too big and fast-paced. She has made Kalgoorlie home and runs a successful construction company with her husband, who is also from the UK. 

If you would like to find out more about regional pathways in Australia, Mr Mistry will be attending the Down Under Live exhibitions in Birmingham (5th – 6th October) and London (12th – 13th October). Cyrus Mistry is the Founding Partner of EasyMigrate and has been specialising in Australian Immigration since 2001. Cyrus will be joined at the exhibition by Sword Recruitment Specialists who work with several businesses looking to recruit skilled workers in industries and occupations suffering local labour market shortages. 

If you would like to find out more about Australian visas our migration agents will be happy to check your eligibility. If you would like advice from our team of Registered Migration Agents, book in for a consultation now.

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