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All Gold Coast postcodes will open on 16 November 2019 to the new regional visa programs. The Prime Minister announced last Saturday that Perth and the Gold Coast will be open for the new regional visas: the 491 Points-based visa and 494 Employer sponsored visa.

The federal government has also increased the number of places under the regional program by 2,000, increasing the total under the program to 25,000 each year. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will not be eligible for the new regional visas.

The key benefit of the new 491 and 494 visas is the lengthy occupation list. While the government has not yet released the occupation list for the new visas, it has announced the overall number of occupations, which is considerably more occupations when compared to the 186 permanent employer sponsored visa, which has a very limited occupation list leading to permanent residence.

Both of the new visas are temporary visas. Holders of the new visas that live, work and study (if relevant) in a regional location for three years will be able to apply for the new 191 Permanent residence visa when it becomes available on 16 November 2022. Applicants for the 191 Permanent residence visa will need to show that they meet minimum income requirements each year, which is expected to be close to the current minimum of $53,900 per year.

Applicants for the new regional visas must be under 45 years of age and must have a competent English test result in the past 3 years. This means IELTS 6 in each area or PTE Academic 50 in each area or other eligible English test result. Applicants also need at least three years employment experience in their occupation. Part-time employment experience is considered half of full-time experience. For example 12 months part-time work as a chef is considered 6-months full-time employment. While the policy has not been released, it is likely overseas employment experience will count for the new regional visas.

The new regional visa program will also increase the attractiveness of studying in a regional location as foreign students will receive more points if they study at a regional educational institution.

The new regional visas will offer Gold Coast businesses an influx of skilled talent to fill roles that have been difficult to fill locally. If you are a temporary resident in Australia under 45 and have good English language skills and have relevant work experience, it is time to relocate to enjoy the sun and the sand on the beautiful Gold Coast.

Contact McLaughlins Lawyers now to find out if you are eligible to apply under the new regional visa programme.

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