Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 visa enables employers based in Regional Australia* to bring skilled workers from outside Australia as permanent residents or transition skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia to permanent residence. Employees under this scheme are required to stay with their employer for two years after visa grant. The program has three streams.

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream 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 is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market.
  • The Agreement stream 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 provided on the basis of facts sheets issued by DIBP on 19/4/2017 and the Australian Government Budget Announcement on 9/5/2017. Please note that at this time there is no supporting legislation for these changes. It is possible that more changes will follow.

From 19 April 2017:

  • No changes

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

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 (TRT Stream).
  • 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 50 years of age (except in some specific circumstances);
  • demonstrate that they have the skills and qualifications relevant to the nominated occupation;
  • 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.

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