Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 Visa

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 visa is for skilled workers outside Australia, or skilled temporary residents in Regional Australia* who have an employer who is willing to sponsor them to become Australian permanent residents. If you are sponsored under this program, you must stay with your employer for two years after your visa is granted. The program has three streams.

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream of the 187 visa is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years in the same position for their employer and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position.
  • The Direct Entry stream of the 187 visa is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market but have an employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent position.
  • The Agreement stream of the 187 visa is for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Each stream has different eligibility rules.

187 Visa Changes

NOTE: This information is current as of 1/7/2017. It is possible that more changes will follow.

From 1 July 2017:

  • English language requirements: A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 6 in each component will be introduced for TRT and Direct Entry Streams
  • Age: A maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application will apply to Direct Entry stream applicants. A maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply to Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants
  • Skills Assessment – may be necessary in some instances

Before 31 December 2017:

  • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for ENS visa holders and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.
  • The DIBP will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.

From March 2018:

  • MLTSSL: The MLTSSL will now apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
  • Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).
  • Residency: The permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years.
  • Work experience: At least three years’ relevant work experience.
  • Age: All applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application.
  • The Skilling Australians Fund Levy will be introduced. The amounts payable will be different for small and large businesses. For small businesses (under $10 million annual turnover) , a one-off payment of $3000 for each employee sponsored will apply. For large businesses ($10 million annual turnover or above), a one-off payment of $5000 for each employee sponsored will apply.

Who is affected by the Changes?

Prospective permanent employer sponsored visa applicants and businesses sponsoring skilled migrants.

Step 1 – Application for Certification by Regional Certifying Body (Direct Entry Stream only)

Regional Certifying Bodies are part of the State and Territory governments. The nominating employer must make an application for Certification to the Regional Certifying Body and provide evidence to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as part of the Nomination Application (Step 2) that the Regional Certifying Body (RCB) has approved the application. The nominating employer must provide a number of documents in support of the application for certification including labour market testing.

Step 2 – Nomination Application

The sponsoring employer must lodge a “Nomination Application” with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and nominate a skilled position. As part of the application the following conditions must be met:

  • The sponsoring employer must be able to satisfy DIBP that it has a genuine need to nominate a paid employee from overseas to fill a skilled position;
  • The nominated position must be classified at skill level 1, 2 or 3 in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) for Direct Entry stream;
  • The sponsoring employer must agree to pay the employee a fair market rate salary and be in a position to offer at least two years full time employment from the date on which the visa is granted;
  • The nominated position must be consistent or similar to the position sponsored by the Standard Business Sponsor under the subclass 457 visa program (Temporary Residence Transition stream only);
  • The sponsoring employer must show that it continues or is committed to meet the training requirements under the subclass 457 visa program (Temporary Residence Transition stream only);
  • The employer must meet a number of other eligibility criteria and provide a set of certified copy of documents in support of the nomination application

Step 3 – Skills Assessment (Direct Entry Stream only)

A visa applicant is required to undergo a pre-migration Skills Assessment if they are a tradesperson who obtained their trade qualifications outside Australia. If the visa applicant is not a tradesperson and has sufficient qualifications and/or relevant work experience, there is often no need for a pre-migration skills assessment.

Step 4 – 187 Visa Application

Once Steps 1, 2 and 3 (where relevant) have been completed, the 187 visa application can be prepared. There is a significant amount of information and documentation required from the applicant in support of the visa application in order to meet the DIBP requirements. In most cases the applicant must:

  • be under 45 years of age (except in some specific circumstances);
  • demonstrate that they have the skills and qualifications relevant to the nominated occupation (in some circumstances a skills assessment may be necessary);
  • have competent English, which is a score of 6 in every category of the IELTS test (or equivalent acceptable to DIBP) for the Direct Entry Stream, or Vocational English, which is a score of 5 in every category of the IELTS test (or equivalent acceptable to DIBP) for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (there are some exemptions to this as outlined on the DIBP website);
  •  meet all other eligibility criteria for the stream in which you apply, such as Health and Character;

If and when the visa application is approved, the visa applicant is obligated to remain in the employment of the sponsoring company for two years from the visa grant date.

* For the purposes of the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, Regional Australia is defined as almost anywhere in Australia except the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong or Melbourne.

Our team of qualified migration professionals has helped thousands of people migrate to Australia under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme / 187 visa program and we can help you to understand if this pathway is right for you.

Contact Us now to find out more