If you want to immigrate to Australia, it’s worth considering moving to one of the regional areas. Aside from being attractive in terms of work-life balance and beautiful scenery, it also provides more opportunities to advance your studies and career.

Regional Australia

What is considered regional Australia?

When someone says the phrase, “regional Australia”, what do you think of? Do the words conjure up visions of the red, desolate Outback? Kangaroos having boxing matches in your backyard? One horse towns with one main road and not much else going on? If so, you’d be very much mistaken.

While the Outback is part of regional Australia, that’s not all there is to it. Any city or region outside of the major metropolitan areas is considered regional, including areas like the beautiful Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, which are both only around an hour’s drive from Brisbane. 

Surprisingly, the capital city of Canberra is also considered a regional area as well as these other popular areas:

  • Adelaide
  • Perth
  • Newcastle/Lake Macquarie 
  • Wollongong/Illawarra 
  • Geelong 
  • Hobart

Life in regional Australia

One of the biggest draw cards of living in regional Australia is that you will be surrounded by nature and a slower pace of life. Whether you choose the waterfalls and forests of the Blue Mountains, coastal South Australia or the tropics of far North Queensland, regional Australia is rich in natural beauty.

The regional areas of Australia are also ideal locations for families. Housing prices are significantly cheaper than property in the cities, and you’re more likely to find a larger property with a lovely yard for the kids. Public schools are generally smaller and well-funded, meaning children can get a great education. In some states and territories, like New South Wales and ACT, the school fees may be waived for dependants of those who hold a subclass 491 visa. 

Regional Australia not only offers spectacular scenery, a relaxed atmosphere and strong family culture, but also a low population density, and fantastic opportunities for those seeking a way to make Australia their permanent home.

Benefits of the Skilled Work Regional visa

To encourage skilled migration into areas most in need, the Australian government has a General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme that’s open to applicants under the age of 45. 

Every year, the national, state and regional governments put out lists of required skills. Each regional area has its own list, based on local regional labour market shortages, and these lists have a wider spread of occupations than the state or national lists. You’ll often find occupations like “restaurant manager” or “graphic designer” on these lists, whereas the state and national lists are usually seeking rarer skills.

If your occupation is on one of these lists, then you can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and a State Nomination application to that State with the hopes that the State would nominate you and the Australian Department of Home Affairs would then select and invite you to apply for a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491).

This year, in a bid to boost Australia’s economic recovery post-pandemic, the government has increased quotas for the subclass 491 visa by 123% – there are now 25,000 of these visas available for the 2022-2023 Australian financial year, compared to 11,200 last year, making now a great time to apply. 

The subclass 491 is a temporary residence visa. However, it has a defined pathway to permanent residency. You and your dependants (such as your spouse and children) will be awarded a five-year temporary visa to start with. After three years of living and working in a regional area, you may apply for permanent residency via the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa, subclass 191. 

While in Australia on your subclass 491 visa, you can work in any occupation you like and you can live and work in any regional area and are not limited to the State that nominated you for your subclass 491 visa.

What also makes the subclass 491 so attractive is that it provides access to Australia’s Medicare system. While all permanent visas in Australia have access to Medicare, this is not the case for temporary visas – the subclass 491 is an exception to this rule.

Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) visa requirements

To be eligible for the subclass 491 visa, you must:

  • Be under the age of 45
  • Have an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or Regional Occupation List (ROL)
  • Have competent English
  • Pass a skills assessment with the appropriate assessing authority in Australia
  • Score a minimum of 65 points. (Points are awarded for factors such as education and experience.)

The benefits of studying in regional Australia

If you want to further your studies in Australia, the government offers a range of incentives to entice international students to study in regional areas. The hope is that you will choose to make regional Australia your new home and add your skills to the area.

  • Regional Australia offers more affordable study options, a balanced lifestyle with a strong sense of community and cultural diversity.
  • Universities offer more scholarships to international students to study and live in regional Australia. 
  • If you study in a regional area, you can earn an additional five points when you apply for a skilled work visa such as the subclass 491, subclass 190 or subclass 189. 
  • You can study courses that hold relevance to local professions in order to land a job in a regional area. Some medical and dental schools train international students before seeking employment in regional areas.
  • An international student who graduates from a regional area university may be eligible for an extension on the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) post-study work stream visa. The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is usually only valid for two years depending on your qualification but studying in a regional area could afford you up to an extra two years.
  • The post-study work visa will enable you to gain additional points for Australian permanent residency as by working for one year in Australia in your nominated occupation, you can claim an additional five points, and working for three years you can claim 10 points.

All these things make it easier for international students to make a permanent move to Australia after they have completed their studies.

Australian student visa

To study in Australia, you must first obtain a Student visa (subclass 500).  This visa allows you to live, work and study in Australia for a maximum of five years. You can travel in and out of the country and are allowed to work 40 hours every fortnight during term time and for an unlimited number of hours during school breaks. The Australian government has, however, temporarily relaxed these restrictions and students no longer have any restriction on the number of hours they can work for the time being.

The Australian Student visa doesn’t lead to permanent residency but does provide an opportunity to eventually. When you’ve completed your studies at an Australian tertiary institution, you could be eligible to apply for the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485). This visa allows a recently graduated student to enter the job market and gives you an opportunity to switch to a skilled visa which can lead to permanent residency.

Student visa requirements

  1. Have a letter of offer from the educational institution you will be attending.
  2. Have a confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
  3. Have proof of English proficiency
  4. Pass the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
  5. Have proof of sufficient funds
  6. Have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  7. Pass the good health requirement
  8. Pass the good character requirement

The Australian government is doing its utmost to attract skilled migrants to their shores, where those skills are in shortage and sorely needed. From the increase in visa quotas to the incentives for students to study there, regional Australia with its natural beauty and easy way of life is a great place to lay roots down.

If you want to take advantage of all that regional Australia has to offer, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our registered Australian migration agents. 

We can offer you expert advice and assistance in applying for your Australian visa and make the whole process easier. You’ll only pay for our services if we feel like you have a good chance of succeeding in your application.

Contact us on +27 (0) 21 657 1526 or email us at migration@sableinternational.com.


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