Morrison Government increases regional migration target

The Morrison Government is stepping up its commitment to regional Australia by ensuring our migration system encourages skilled migrants to live and work in our smaller cities and regions.

In March this year, the Government announced it would reduce the permanent migration cap from 190,000 to 160,000 places, and within that set aside 23,000 places for regional visas.

Following unprecedented growth (124 per cent) in the number of regional visas granted in the first quarter of this programme year, the Government is increasing the total number of regional places to 25,000.

The definition of regional Australia for migration purposes will also change. Perth and the Gold Coast will no longer be classified as major cities, ensuring they remain an attractive destination for skilled migrants and international students.

The new definition will come into effect on 16 November.

Locations outside of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will have access to the 25,000 visa places, priority processing and international university graduates who live in these locations will be eligible to apply for more time in Australia on a post-study work visa.

The new system is a key pillar of the Government's Population Plan. It will ease the pressures in our three largest capital cities, while providing incentives for migrants to live and work in regional Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We’re using our migration programme to back our regions to grow to take the population pressure off our major capital cities and by supporting strong regions we’re creating an even stronger economy for Australia.

“These changes will boost the appeal for so many cities and regional centres that are looking to grow their population to support local services like schools and health care, while attracting new workers and students, meaning more jobs and more investment.”

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the boost in regional migration formed a central plank of the Government’s plan for managing Australia’s future population.

“Almost 70 per cent of our population growth in recent years has been into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, increasing the pressures being felt across our major cities,” Minister Tudge said.

“Migration has been the primary driver of this growth, and these changes means more migrants and international students will live, work and study in our smaller cities and regional areas.”

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said attracting more students, both Australian and international, to study in the regions is part of the Morrison Government’s focus on regional higher education.

“International Education made a $35 billion contribution to the economy last year, yet just three per cent of the 690,000 international students were enrolled in regional Australia,” Minister Tehan said.

“We want the entire country to share in the job, business and cultural opportunities that come with international students. International students who study in regional Australia also rate their living and learning experience higher than students based in metropolitan centres.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the Government would continue to with work State and Territory Governments and regional communities to ensure Australia’s migration system meets the needs of our cities and regions.

“We know areas of regional Australia want to grow – grow their economies, grow their education sectors and grow their communities,” Minister Coleman said.

“We will continue to review our regional migration settings to ensure they continue to support regional Australia.”

To ensure the Government meets its targets and continues to support regional Australia, Minister Coleman has deployed Regional Outreach Officers to the regions to promote skilled migration initiatives and provide dedicated support to regional employers, helping them understand their skilled visa options.

Migration definitions

Definition Locations Regional incentives
Major Cities Sydney Melbourne Brisbane
  • NA
Cities and major regional centres Perth Adelaide Gold Coast Sunshine Coast Canberra Newcastle/Lake Macquarie Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong Hobart
  • Access to the dedicated 25,000 regional places.
  • Priority processing on regional visas.
  • Access to the Regional Occupations List – more jobs compared to non-regional lists.
  • International students studying at regional universities will be eligible to access an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.
Regional centres and other regional areas All other locations
  • Access to the dedicated 25,000 regional places.
  • Priority processing on regional visas.
  • Access to the Regional Occupations List – more jobs compared to non-regional lists.
  • International students studying at regional universities will be eligible to access an additional 2 years in Australia on a post-study work visa.
  • Priority in negotiating region-specific Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs).