Changes on Migration Regulation from 16 November 2019, Series 1. What is ‘Regional Area’


Hello, everyone.

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In our previous column, we delivered the great news that Perth and Gold Coast will be classified as ‘Regional Area’ for the Australian migration (visa) purpose in an effort to attract regional migrants and international students.

Today, we would like to explain ‘what is the definition of ‘Regional Area’ in the context of Australian immigration law,’ and ‘why this ‘Regional Area’ is important for the Australian visa.


[WA’s Regional Timeline]

When you consider migrating to Australia, it is crucial whether your intended or current state of residence is included to the definition of ‘Regional Area’ under the Migration regulations, because if it belongs to the regional areas, there are benefits available such as extra points for Skilled Migration visas or more visa options. For several years, in order to boost regional economy and increase populations, the federal government has encouraged migrants to move to and settle in regional Australia providing incentives for them.

Aligning with this governmental direction, in 2011, Perth metropolitan area was suddenly included to the definition of the regional Australia for the RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa, and therefore Perth was exploded with the RSMS visa applications even from the eastern states. Numerous migrants were able to be granted permanent visa at that time.

From July 2012, after the English language requirement for RSMS was increased, (IELTS overall 4.5 to each 6.0) the visa boom like 2011 disappeared, but RSMS still remained as the easiest and fastest pathway to become an Australian permanent resident for many people. This RSMS visa had been available during the time as Perth remained as the same ‘Regional Area’.

However, in March 2017, after Mr McGowan was elected as WA Premier, the first act that he implemented was to remove Perth metropolitan area from the definition of the ‘Regional Area’. In doing so, he even sent a personal letter to the Minister of Immigration, which made many people be surprised and concerned.

This sudden removal of regional status made foreign students reluctant to choose Perth as their study destination, and this partially caused the downturn of entire state economy. A lot of local businesses including universities and small colleges has been suffering since then and overall local economic recession has started, even if it can’t be the only reason. Many people in Perth will agree on this.

This June, Mr McGowan wrote to the commonwealth again to ask Perth to be classed as ‘Regional Area’ again for the purpose of availability for new regional study incentives and new regional visas. In two and half years, finally Perth is re-classed as one of the ‘Designated Regional Areas,’ for migration purposes from 16 November 2019.


[Designated Regional Area]

From 16 November 2019 onward, Western Australia is classified as ‘Designated Regional Area’ according to the Department of Home Affairs and details are as below:



Above are the postcodes for areas which are considered ‘Regional Area’ in Western Australia. The entire state is defined as the ‘Regional Area’.


[The importance of ‘Regional Area’]

As previously explained, there are obvious benefits in preparing Australian visas by targeting the regional area. Firstly, 5 points are given when applying for Skilled Migration visas if relevant study was completed in the designated regional area and meet the Australian Study Requirement. Especially, international graduates with a bachelor or higher qualification from a regional campus of a registered institution will be eligible for an extra one year on a Graduate visa (subclass 485) other than general two years of Graduate visa period.

Furthermore, skilled migrants are able to apply for the new regional visas commencing from 16 November 2019 such as Skilled Work Regional visa (subclass 491) and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (subclass 494). Now, these two new visas are eligible to be lodged in those regional areas, so entire Western Australia including Perth metropolitan are applicable.

As a result, although you are not applying to abovementioned Skilled Migration visas, 491 or 494 visas right now, considering possible options, it is better idea to start studying or getting a job in the regional area for later possible visa options.


In our following columns, we will provide detailed explanation for each change effective from 16 November 2019.


In the meantime, please make a reservation for migration consultation if you have any further questions, or if you want to see whether you are eligible.


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The information provided in this column serves as a general guidance only and does not constitute migration advice. We accept no responsibility for any consequence that may arise from any action taken based on this information. We highly recommend readers to seek private advice or assistance for detailed situations. Thank you.