The Australian Government wants to encourage international students to study and live in designated “Regional Areas” of Australia. If you live and study in one of these Regional Areas for at least two years, you can gain an extra 5 points on the Immigration Points Tests, which may increase your chance of PR in Australia. There are also numerous other benefits to studying in regional areas that will be introduced in November 2019 including increased points for Regional State Nomination and an additional year on the graduate work visa. When you are looking to study in regional Australia, it is very important to understand the way skilled migration works to maximise your options. In this way, to apply for permanent residency immigration has a points system. Generally speaking the more points you have, the better chance you have at receiving residency. But over the last 2 years, skilled migration has become more about state sponsorship than just having the most points. In this blog, we will explain how you can strategize your study plan to maximise your points and expand your options!
Regional in Australia is defined as any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Important change: Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional areas. Regional areas include Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Lake Macquarie, Illawarra, Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.
The Department of Home Affairs have released the list of postcodes considered as regional areas for the purposes of the below Australian visas lodged on or after 16 November 2019 namely:
The regional definition is comprised of 3 categories and offers regional incentives for skilled migrants who migrate to locations classified as Category 2 ‘Cities and Major Regional Centres’ or Category 3 ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’.
Cities and Major Regional Centres’ of Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart
Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas
Generally, speaking, if you choose to complete a 2-year program/programs with a designated Regional Education provider, it will enable you to gain 5 additional points for regional study. In order to be approved for the 5 extra-regional study points, you must live and study in the designated region. The extra 5 points awarded for regional study covers most programs at Diploma level or above. So strategically talking, studying in regional Australia will give you 10 extra points: 5 points for 2 years of study, plus another 5 points for studying regionally.
This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, having more time during your 485 visa, it’s a 50% increase! (3 years instead of 2 for Uni graduates) and gives you the ability to work longer, gain more points for Australian work experience and look more appealing to Australian employers (with more time to work for them). So how can this extra time on a 485 visa benefit you and your pathway and points? Well, if you secure relevant employment in your occupation you can claim points as follows: 1-year Australian work experience = 5 points 3-years Australian work experience = 10 points Employer sponsorship (482 info here) requires 2-years of experience in your field so this gives you another backup option to consider if you are not invited under the EOI scheme before your 485 ends Regional Employer sponsorship requires you to have 3 years of experience in your field which is possible if you gain a 3 year 485 visa Secondly. if you prefer to pursue the EOI points-based process towards PR, then State Sponsorship has increasingly become the easiest and sometimes only way to achieve permanent residency in Australia. The graphic below illustrates how each state has approved applicants under the state nominated streams.
Study in regional Australia also has a direct correlation with State Sponsorship. State sponsorship is where different states in Australia choose the occupations they need in their state and place them on their state sponsorship list. Then, each state has their own requirements on what you need to do to be approved for the points via state sponsorship. The majority of states have several ‘in demand’ occupation lists specific to their economies – There is a graduate list as well, which can include waivers (so can be easier to receive nomination points from them) as well as ‘living in’ lists – so if you were to be studying in a regional location you may find that upon completion of your studies you can be eligible to a 3-year post-study work visa, and be considered for nomination under that particular regions ‘graduate list’ and/or ‘living in the area’ list.
The more you can maximise your options at the start of your journey, the more opportunities you can give yourself at graduation. We are running an Education and Migration seminar now and then everything about study in regional Australia. Also, you can talk to our experts for more information on how we can help you with your own strategy to get permanent residency However, there are plenty of other reasons to consider studying in a regional area including the cheaper cost of living and lifestyle.