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Migration Matters News

Date: 2004-07-01

Requirements for Skilled–Independent Regional (Provisional) Visas

The Skilled–Independent Regional (Provisional) (SIR) visa is for skilled people who wish to live and work in a regional or low population growth area in Australia.

The visa was developed in consultation with state and territory governments and is designed to assist regional areas attract, and retain, skilled migrants to fill skill shortages, boost development in regional communities, and counter the population decline in rural areas.

The SIR (Provisional) visa is a temporary visa valid for a period of 3 years.

Applicants for the SIR (Provisional) visa will be required to sign an undertaking that they, and the members of their family unit, will live, work or study in regional Australia or a low population metropolitan centre for the duration of their SIR (Provisional) visa.

Applicants for a SIR (Provisional) visa must have state or territory government sponsorship.

Through a two-stage visa process, SIR visa holders must live and work in or a low population growth metropolitan area for at least 2 years before they can apply for permanent residence.

Two stage process to permanent residence
Skilled applicants who are sponsored by a state or territory government and who can obtain 110 points on the general skilled migration points test can apply for permanent residence through a two stage process:

Stage 1
SIR (Provisional) visa stage - successful applicants will be granted a 3 year temporary visa to live and work/study in regional Australia.

Stage 2
Permanent residence stage - SIR visa holders who have met the SIR visa conditions of:

- having lived in regional Australia for at least 2 years; and
- having been employed (including self employed) for at least 12 months in regional Australia;

may apply for one of the following permanent residence visas:

* Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
* State/Territory Nominated Independent (SNTI)
* State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner

Note: If you are considering applying for the SIR (Provisional) visa, you should take every opportunity to find out about the employment opportunities and available services in the area where you are interested in living.

Priority processing
SIR visa applications will receive priority processing through the Adelaide Skilled Processing Centre. This means they will be processed ahead of other applications for general skilled migration.

Regional Australia
Living in regional Australia or a low population growth metropolitan area means that SIR visa holders can live anywhere in Australia except in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne or the ACT.

All SIR (Provisional) visa applicants must meet the same basic requirements as other general skilled migration categories plus some additional requirements.

Basic Requirements

You must be under 45 years of age when you apply.

English language
You must have sufficient ability in the English language for working in Australia. This is known as 'vocational English'. A higher level of English is required for certain occupations where English ability forms part of the skills assessment. This information will be available from the relevant assessing authority. In the Skilled–Designated Area and the Skill Matching visa categories, a lower level of English may apply.

You are encouraged to have your English language ability tested before you apply.

You must have post-secondary (such as university or trade) qualifications (in a small number of occupations, substantial relevant work experience may be acceptable).

Your skills must have been assessed by the relevant assessing authority as suitable for your nominated occupation.

Nominated occupation
When you apply, you must nominate an occupation which fits your skills and qualifications. Your nominated occupation must be on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL)
See: Form 1121i (PDF) Skilled Occupations List.

If your nominated occupation is 'Medical Practitioner',
See: Migration of Medical Practitioners under the General Skilled Migration Program

If your nominated occupation is not on the SOL, you cannot apply.

Recent work experience
This requirement is separate from the need to have your skills assessed as suitable for your nominated occupation before you apply.

If your nominated occupation is worth 60 points (see the points for your nominated occupation on the SOL), you must have been in paid employment in a skilled occupation (any on the SOL) for at least 12 of the 18 months immediately before applying.

If your nominated occupation is worth 40 or 50 points, you must have been in paid employment in a skilled occupation (any on the SOL) for at least 2 of the 3 years immediately before applying.

For certain occupations, a longer period of specific work experience is required to obtain a suitable skills assessment (for example, manager).

In the Skill Matching or Skilled-Designated Area Sponsored categories, you may be eligible with less work experience.

Australian qualification exemption
You do not need to meet the work experience requirement if you meet the 2 years study in Australia requirement less than 6 months before lodging your visa application.

This exemption cannot, however, be used to waive any specific work experience requirement imposed by an assessing body as part of a skills assessment.

If you intend taking advantage of this concession, you should note that the 6 month period begins from the date that you completed the qualification, not from the date the qualification was conferred.

Skills assessment
Before you apply, you must have had your skills assessed by the relevant Australian assessing authority (as outlined on Form 1121i (PDF) Skilled Occupations List), for your nominated occupation.

These assessment authorities are responsible for undertaking skills assessment for migration purposes, and are not employment agencies. They will not reply to requests for job placement. Nor can they give advice on the allocation of points.

If you are unable to satisfy these basic requirements, you should NOT continue with a General Skilled Migration application.

Applying for Skilled–Independent Regional (Provisional) Visas
Applicants can apply offshore or onshore. There are different requirements for each category. The current categories are:

* Applicants outside of Australia
* Applicants who have a 'pooled' Skilled–Independent visa application
* Overseas students applying in Australia
* Applying for a second SIR (Provisional) visa

All applicants for the SIR (Provisional) visas must be sponsored by a state or territory government authority. Applicants must provide evidence of their sponsorship when they apply for a SIR (Provisional) visa.

People wanting to apply for a SIR (Provisional) visa should contact the relevant state or government authority where they are interested in living, to find out about the sponsorship requirements.

Participating state and territory governments
This is a list of state and territory governments participating in the SIR (Provisional) visa program. This information will be updated as required.

New South Wales: www.business.nsw.gov.au
Northern Territory: www.migration.nt.gov.au
Queensland: www.migration.qld.gov.au
South Australia: www.immigration.sa.gov.au
Tasmania: www.development.tas.gov.au
Victoria: www.LiveInVictoria.vic.gov.au

Note: Contact information for Western Australia is not currently available. The Australian Capital Territory does not meet the definition of regional Australia for the purposes of the SIR (Provisional) visa.

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