Anyone who has applied for a permanent skilled visa to Australia will tell you that the process can be arduous. The Skilled – Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa, or regional sponsored visa can sometimes prove to be a suitable alternative. The purpose of this four year visa is to encourage migrants to settle in some of the remote or less populated areas of Australia. However, you shouldn’t picture a tumbleweed being blown down a deserted street or some sort of post-apocalyptic Mad Maxesque outback rural nightmare. Regional sponsored visas offer migrants the chance to settle in some of the most beautiful, vibrant areas of Australia as well as access to numerous employment hotspots.
I’ve chosen to focus on Western Australia because it is the preferred destination of a lot of our clients, especially tradespeople. The attraction for some of these clients is that a regional sponsored visa may offer a pathway to Australia that doesn’t involve sitting an English language exam.
Consider this scenario: Joe, a 32 year old electrician with a recognised trade qualification with five years’ experience is applying for a permanent skilled visa, specifically the state sponsored (subclass 190) visa. To apply for this visa he will need to achieve a score of 60 points. Joe gets 30 points for his age, 10 points for his qualification, 10 for employment experience and 5 points from the sponsoring state, in this example Western Australia. Under the present visa system, Joe has 55 points and will have to achieve a high score in an approved English language test to reach the pass mark. For some applicants the English language test, which examines reading, writing, listening and speaking, can present some difficulty.
Here is where the regional sponsored visa comes in. This visa assesses all of the above criteria in the same way but offers ten points for state sponsorship. Joe will not have to sit and English exam, and should he be successful in applying for his regional sponsored visa, he can now head for Western Australia. There is caveat however, and that is the ‘regional’ in regional sponsored visa. Joe may settle anywhere in Western Australia except the capital Perth and its surrounding areas. For some, especially those who already have friends or relatives in Perth, this condition represents a massive drawback. However this really needn’t be so. If one examines the list of post codes which the Western Australian state government designates as ‘regional’, Joe will realise that there are plenty of attractive areas to live which are within an easy driving distance from Perth.
Take Mandurah, for example. This is Western Australia’s second largest city with a population of over 80, 000. Until recently a relatively isolated regional town, Mandurah has grown to be a thriving regional hub, ideally situated between economically important areas such as Pinjarra, Jarrahdale and Wagerup. With great employment opportunities in construction and a perfect coastal climate, Mandurah represents a great bet. Central Mandurah is less than 45 miles from Perth and only 20 miles from Rockingham, another popular destination for migrants. With a regional sponsored visa, Joe will also be free to locate to the major mining areas north of Perth, or busy port cities such as Port Hedland which exist to serve the mining and petroleum industry.
And what about regional Western Australia’s other attractions? This real life El Dorado has golden beaches, over one hundred national parks, and a strong indigenous aboriginal culture. So if you have a hankering for Western Australia, but are finding the skilled (subclass 190) too big of a hurdle, remember there’s always the 489 visa. Because there’s more to Western Australia than just Perth!