What is the change? Visas for skilled workers in regional Australia will be prioritized, according to a government plan to reduce congestion in Melbourne and Sydney and attract foreign workers to spur regional businesses.

What does the change mean? Employers will receive priority processing for visas for foreign workers in regional Australia, and the government will expand Designated Area Migration Agreements with local governments. Foreign workers sponsored on regional visas will be required to work in the designated area and be subject to visa cancellation if they move to other areas of Australia.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary Skill Shortage visas, visas under DAMAs.
  • Business impact: Businesses in regional Australia will benefit from faster processing of visas but will still be required to meet threshold salary requirements and demonstrate that Australian workers were unavailable to fill the job.

Background: The Australian government has overhauled the immigration routes for skilled workers in the past two years, eliminating the Subclass 457 visa and replacing it with the Temporary Skill Shortage visa with more stringent criteria. The Department of Home Affairs ended priority processing of TSS visas in September 2018, but still gives priority to visa applications submitted by accredited sponsors.

Analysis & Comments: While Australia continues to move toward reducing overall immigration and narrowing skilled worker routes, the population plan recognizes that businesses in regional Australia face labor shortages and promises $19.4 million over four years to help regional areas attract foreign talent. The faster processing and expansion of DAMA agreements will benefit regional businesses seeking to recruit foreign workers.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.