The contents of this article are correct as at 20 May 2011.
In recognition of the challenges that employers in regional Australia face to maintain and grow their businesses, in the 2011-12 Budget the Government has directed the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to begin investigating the viability of a number of initiatives specifically targeted toward assisting regional Australia to manage these challenges.
The regional initiatives announced in the Budget are discussed in more detail below.
Streamlining permanent residence for those holding certain temporary skilled visas
DIAC proposes to review its employer-sponsored visa categories, including the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, to facilitate streamlined application processing arrangements for skilled workers on temporary visas who are already living and working in regional Australia.
The employer-sponsored visa categories provide employers with the ability to attract workers, whose skills they require to maintain and grow their business, directly from overseas or retaining skilled workers who are currently in Australia on a temporary visa.
This measure will provide a streamlined pathway that facilitates the transition from temporary to permanent residence. This will make it easier (and faster) for temporary visa holders who have already made a commitment to living in a regional area and are contributing to its productivity by filling a skilled position to transition to permanent residence.
Increasing Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme places
For the first time ever, the federal government will specifically allocate permanent visas for regional areas.
The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme is expected to deliver up to 16,000 skilled migrants to regional areas in 2011-12, filling vacancies that employers cannot fill from the local labour force.
This recognises demand from regional employers for skilled people in their businesses and underscores the importance of a demand-driven migration program, particularly in ensuring that Australia gets the skills it needs right now.
Applicants for permanent regional migration visas will be afforded the highest level of processing priority, ensuring their applications are processed and finalised as quickly as possible. This will ensure that applicants who have skills, qualifications and work experience that are in demand in regional Australia will be able to more quickly begin utilising these skills and contributing to regional areas.
Regional Engagement Strategy
The government will develop and implement an enhanced Regional Engagement Strategy to ensure that employers in regional areas know which migration programs can assist them to fill skilled vacancies, where there are no local or Australian people to fill the job. Through its Regional Outreach Officer network, the government will develop information specifically for regional areas, and will actively disseminate the information to assist regional employers.
If you have any questions about these initiatives, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.