A Happy New Year to all our readers and clients.

Whilst this federal government deliberately is making PR processing times longer in an effort to make PR grant numbers seem smaller this financial year (and perhaps the next), they are pushing new migrants into regional areas wherever they can.

The focus for the year ahead and with the recent implementation of the 494 and 491 visas combined with the deliberate squeeze on reducing the 189 visa intake, this government is pushing its regional agenda with maximum force.

Regional Sponsorship and Points?

Whilst the extra 5 points has been there for a long time for study in regional Australia this has done little to draw students to the accepted locations. It is really the reduction of the 189 intakes that is driving the regional migration push. The regional sponsorship points have always been there as well but again did little to induce students to study there.

In the past students have been satisfied to wait it out for their 189 invitations in the major cities, as long as they thought eventually after a few months their turn would come. This has now changed dramatically. Now there is the realisation that no matter how long they wait, their turn may never come. Of course DOHA is doing this deliberately to follow the governments agenda of spreading out new migrants to regional designated areas.

Which State/Territory is better?

We used to think Tasmania was one of the best locations to send students. Sadly this has now changed. Our hearts go out to the many international students who have trusted the Tasmanian government only to find they have changed their sponsorship criteria to some obscure guidelines that we have dubbed the new GTE, Genuine Tasmanian Entrant.

Unfortunately the Tasmania’s new GTE is just as bad as the DOHA’s GTE for student visa criteria. It is a completely unaccountable subjective test that can be used to reject any applicant if the decision maker chooses. The GTE is designed on purpose to be so generalised that every applicant has the possibility to be refused according to its criteria. However, it is still possible as long as you have been working/have skills in the one of the skilled shortage occupations in Tasmania; health, trades and construction, engineering, community services, particularly if living in an area outside of Greater Hobart. It is also still possible if you follow the criteria and get involved in Tasmanian life as much as you can. Sitting back and completing your one year diploma to gain sponsorship approval is a thing of the past.

Disbandment of the NSW Regional Certifying Bodies (RCB) for the 491

The NSW RCB’s have now lost the right to select potential 491 visa applicants for the same unaccountable procedures crept into their decision making process. The demise of the RCB’s is a lesson to be learnt for Tasmania. The many individual regions were creating their own versions for selection criteria which at times seemed to vary from month to month. It is likely the NSW government saw this problem and decided to take control. The central government has now set a uniform approach towards 491 sponsorship which at least for now seems reliable and accountable.

The ACT?

Well everyone knows the ACT’s betrayal in the past of international students when they closed their doors even though many would have met their publicised sponsorship requirements for the 190 visa.

The recent Canberra Matrix is complicated but at least you can make an assessment of meeting a particular point level. However like the DOHA there is nothing stopping them from raising the pass mark as they see fit. In this scenario it can be just as bad as DOHA raining the pass mark for the 189 applicants. This in turn is a system you cannot trust but if you choose to do so, then good luck.

South Australia, WA, NT and Queensland?

Whilst Queensland is probably the worst place for international students to go due to the ridiculous requirement for only PhD or Masters study being accepted, for some it still may be a place to consider. The Gold Coast region pushed hard to be placed on the Designated Regional Area (DRA) list but it is unlikely to see the benefit like Tasmania has seen in growth until the government relaxes its sponsorship requirements.

South Australia and the Northern Territory have been very consistent over the years. Although not the easiest to meet their requirements they have proven at least trustworthy. The NT has a simple system whereby two years of study there and a skill assessment in any occupation on the DOHA list, will put you in reach of their requirements. At the moment they seem the most trustworthy of all areas.

Perth has now been included on the DRA list and their new requirements are not time tested. However their current requirements for two year Graduates of WA to have 6 months work experience in their nominated occupation (or closely related) or have a 6 month contract of employment in Western Australia. There is also a specific list where occupations may or not be available does not install much confidence in their system. If the WA government thought these requirements will attract students to Perth, they will be sadly mistaken. It will certainly not attract those on the 485 visas to their region.

Study in Sydney and Regional NSW?

The NSW government has seen the writing on the wall for education providers here who are going to be soon battling to attract students. They have stepped in to provide the carat of NSW 190 sponsorship when the 189 visas have practically dried up.

This has been a smart move to rescue NSW education providers, particularly those smaller ones. It is a lead other state governments should take notice of. Whilst it does not provide the certainty of the 189-visa system where all you needed to worry was what was your pass mark, it is better than nothing at all.

The NSW regional universities will have the most to celebrate now that Wollongong, Newcastle and Inner Blue Mountain areas are now included on the RDA list. This combined with the new 491 provisions of the NSW government will make students realise it is a much better deal than risking Tasmania, for example. And of course, those students who want to use the possible 491 sponsorship, you have to live in the RDA as well as study. Sneaking out to Wollongong for example from Sydney to complete your course will not work.


It’s going to be a difficult year, particularly those living in Tasmania who were looking forward to being sponsored by that state. For those looking to do this make sure you follow the GTE recommendations as much as possible. Don’t expect much from the 189 Invitation Rounds this financial year but I guess anything can happen.

If you need advice give us a call and book an appointment. We are here to help. Call +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists.

Karl Konrad