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02 July 2004
The new Skilled-Independent Regional (SIR) (Provisional) visa has come into effect, opening up more options for skilled migrants to come to Australia. This initially temporary skilled visa has been introduced by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural (and Indigenous) Affairs (DIMIA) to address skill shortages that may exist in regional areas and encourage a more balanced dispersal of Australia's skilled migrant intake.
The new category will involve a two-stage visa arrangement of temporary residence followed by permanent residence for people with needed skills, and members of their family unit, who are willing to live and work in regional Australia.
The visa aims to attract skilled migrants who wish to live in a regional or low population growth area in Australia but are unable to meet the pass mark for an Independent Skilled visa. In order to attract people to the SIR visa, the pass mark for the SIR visa is less than that for the Independent Skilled visa. Applicants will only need to meet the basic requirements as under the General skilled migration categories and meet a pass mark of 110 points, as opposed to the 120 points as required under the Skilled-Independent category.
The SIR (Provisional) visa allows the visa holder to remain in Australia for a period of three years during which time they must live and work in regional Australia. After living in regional Australia for at least two years AND being employed (including self-employed) for at least one year, SIR visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residence through a range of existing regional visas.
At the expiry of the SIR visa, holders of a SIR visa may also be eligible to apply for another SIR visa. They may choose to do this in circumstances where they are unable to satisfy the criteria for the grant of a permanent visa. Generally, only one additional SIR visa can be granted to an applicant and if granted will be valid for a further 12 month stay.
Applicants will have to be SPONSORED by an authorised State or Territory government or their appointed Regional Certifying Body to be eligible to apply for a SIR visa.
Further good news is that individuals who have already applied for a Skilled-Independent migration visa but have been "Pooled" because they do not pass the stringest points test will be invited to apply for the SIR visa if they have claimed at least 110 points. Such applicants will not be required to complete a new application form. They must, however, lodge the letter of invitation from DIMIA and acceptance advice with the ASPC within 6 months of receiving the invitation.
Such applicants from the pool will also be granted priority processing of their visas.
Further information on the SIR visa will become available on this website shortly.