Australia Govt Mulls Visa Scheme Requiring Immigrants to Live in Rural Areas

he Australian Home Affairs Department is looking into ways to bind people to a regional area, said First Assistant Secretary David Wilden.


Immigrants arriving in Australia on a regional-sponsored visa would have to live in regional or rural Australia, instead of big cities like Sydney or Melbourne, according to a new policy that is under consideration by the Australian government, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The Home Affairs Department is looking into ways to bind people to a region, Australia’s First Assistant Secretary David Wilden said. “One of the complaints we often get from sponsors is that migrants come as permanent residents and are not actually bound under law to stay in a regional area,” Wilden was quoted as saying by the publication.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa is a permanent employer sponsored visa which requires a job offer in a regional area of Australia. To be granted the RSMS visa, the employee must be offered a position in a “regional area” in Australia. Some of the regional areas stipulated for the RSMS visa are the whole of Western Australia, the whole of South Australia, and Victoria — all areas excluding Melbourne, including some others.

Australian Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said that he has been having talks regarding the issue with his coalition colleagues during regional visits recently.

“If they’ve come in on the basis of being employed in a regional area, then we think it’s not an unreasonable expectation that they stay in that area for a certain amount of time,” Tudge was quoted as saying by SBS News.

Tudge added that even though many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the premise that they intend to live and work in regional Australia, they don’t stay long in the region once they obtain the permanent visa. “This has been a key issue for discussion during my recent visits to regional areas over recent weeks,” Tudge was quoted as saying in the report.

In 2017, out of the 184,000 migrants given permanent visas in Australia, around 12,000 regional visas were granted under the RSMS while 887 visas were given under the Skilled Regional visa scheme, according to SBS News. The Skilled Regional visa allows a person to stay in Australia as well as work and study indefinitely in the country.

Saying that the Australian government is looking at ways to effectively bind people to the regions if they have obtained a sponsorship to go to those locations, Tudge pointed out that many immigrants who were sponsored particularly for regional jobs later quit those jobs and shifted to cities, leading to skills shortages in regional towns.

“It leaves a sour taste if someone sponsors someone to come here on the basis that they’re going to work in a regional center and then they skip town at the first opportunity,”Assistant Minister for  Children and Families David Gillespie was quoted as saying by SBS News.

Gillespie added that regional employers felt shortchanged in instances when they actually paid for a migrant’s air travel, but the person left the area after a short duration.

According to the figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on April 24, overseas migration is driving the population growth in Australian cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. These cities made up for more than 70 per cent of Australia’s population growth in 2017.

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