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Registration Number 1971 and 2748
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0208366, 0426675, 0641256, 0742456 and 0640237
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SIR visa (state sponsored)

SKILLED INDEPENDENT REGIONAL VISA - Australian immigration

The SKILLED INDEPENDENT REGIONAL (SIR) visa scheme

This is a state sponsored regional visa.

Keep in mind that each state / territory will have the discretion to decide whether they want to articipate in the SIR scheme, and if they do participate, they will apparently have the discretion to decide which occupations they will sponsor.

NOTE: Not all the SOL occupations are eligible for the SIR visa

All factors considered, the SIR scheme is similar to the existing STNI scheme (as expected) bar obviously a few major differences e.g.

  1. The visa is initially a provisional visa.
    • * This means it is in effect a temporary residence visa (with no or limited access to e.g. social security)
  2. The visa holder must reside in a designated area
  3. Condition 8539 must be imposed on the visa. This condition requires you to live, work (and study if applicable) in a low population growth metropolitan or regional area of Australia.*
  4. Condition 8515 may be imposed (applicant may not marry - if single when application was made - before entering Australia)
    • * a low population growth metropolitan area or regional Australia means: " one with a population growth rate between the last two censuses of less than 50% of the national average. This includes: NSW - except Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coats and Wollongong; QLD - except Brisbane and the Gold Coast; Vic - except Melbourne; WA - except Perth, SA, Tasmania and NT - entire states
How does this visa work ? How do you apply for it ?

The initial visa (a subclass 475 visa) is formally called a SKILLED INDEPENDENT REGIONAL (provisional) VISA and referred to as the "SIR" visa.

To apply for this visa you must meet the following criteria:-

  1. You must have vocational English
      • This means you must be a native English speaker from e.g. the UK, or,
      • You must write and IELTS test and score no less than 5 for each of the 4 IELTS components, or,
      • If you studied in Australia for at least 2 years, at an institution where all tuition was conducted in English, you *may* meet this requirement as well.
      • Many occupations do require a higher IELTS score, specific to each state
  2. You must nominate an occupation on the SOL
      • Note we do not expect that all the states will accept all occupations on the SOL for sponsorship !
  3. Your nominated occupation must be formally assessed by the relevant assessing agency or authority
      • This is exactly similar to the current requirements for skilled migration
  4. You must be under age 45
  5. The visa is points tested to 100 currently, which means you have to satisfy the normal skills criteria e.g. age, language, occupation, work experience, bonus points etc.
    • Note that you will be awarded 10 points if a state agrees to sponsor you
  6. If you nominate a 60 point occupation, you must meet the recent work experience criteria.
      • This means: you must show that you worked in that occupation at least 12 of the preceding 18 months immediately before making application for the visa, and similarly, if you nominate a 40 or 50 point occupation, you must evidence work / employment for at least 24 in the preceding 36 months immediately before making the application.
    • What does "work" mean ?
      • That means a minimum of 20 hours per week, for which you were paid, in your nominated or (very) closely related occupation.
      • OR you may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement because you have recently completed an Australian qualification after a minimum of two years study in Australia
      • Students, or rather those student who completed a minimum of 2 years full time study in Australia (see below) may also apply for the 495 visa or progress directly to the 137 or PR visa.
    • What does 2 years of full time study mean (in relation to the Migration Act and visa requirements) ?
      • You have to study at least 2 years full time towards a degree or diploma or a combination of courses ...
      • The study (ies) must be completed at the SAME institution
      • The studies must be relevant to your nominated occupation
      • The courses / studies must be presented in English (only)
      • You can combine for instance a 1.5 year degree with a further post grad diploma to meet the 2 year full time study requirement provided both qualifications are relevant to your nominated occupation. (you can not nominate yourself as a Cook, if part of your 2 year studies were for instance a 12 month motor mechanics diploma)
  7. You must do (and pass) the normal medicals and police clearances
Who should (or can) apply for this visa ?
  • If you meet the basic skills criteria, but can not reach the pass mark (points test) of 120, (but can achieve at least 100 points) then this visa is the way into Australia, or
  • You completed studies in Australia but still only get to 110 points, or
  • You applied for a skilled independent visa, and you are now in the "pool" - You need to first obtain state sponsorship, then pay the application fee for the SIR visa (reduced for these applicants), and lodge your application on or before the date specified in your invitation letter (DIAC will invite "pooled" applicants who have obtained a score of 100 or more to make application for this visa)
  • Most states now also require that you evidence net assets of no less than $ 25 000 in the 6 months before application is made before they will approve sponsorship
You can not apply for this visa if:
  • You do not meet the basic skills criteria
  • You meet the basic skills criteria BUT your occupation is not on the list of occupations sponsored by any of the states participating in this scheme

Note: The number of visas (places) available for this visa are limited. If your visa is not granted in one financial year (runs from 1 July to 30 June annually), your application will be held over to the next financial year

How do you apply for this visa ?
  1. You have to have your nominated occupation assessed and approved for migration by the relevant agency for that occupation first
  2. You have to obtain sponsorship from a state or territory - done after step 1
  3. Each participating state will have an additional sponsorship application form (we will give you this form on appointment of BCIS)
  4. You have to meet the points test (100 points)
  5. On approval of your sponsorship by a state, you lodge the application with DIAC
What can you do, where and how long do you have to enter Australia ?
  • Similar to most other visas, after visa grant, you have to make an initial entry (all members of the family unit included in the application) to validate the visa. This entry is normally made before the medicals and police clearances expire (they are valid for 12 months in most cases, or medicals for 6 months if the applicant has a minor medical condition).
  • On your first entry, you can stay a day, a week, a month or for the validity of the visa.
  • The visa is initially valid for 3 years
  • In the initial 3 years, you must progress to a permanent residence visa (described below)
  • You have to live in a regional for at least two years in the 3 years before applying for your PR visa
  • You, or your spouse should work in a regional area for at least 12 months in the 3 years before making application for your PR visa
  • You have to have your own private medical insurance (no Medicare cover)
  • Your kids can attend any schools (and you have to keep record of their enrolment and attendance at a school in a designated area !)
  • The main applicant should work in his nominated occupation (if you are to progress to a PR Visa under this scheme) OR participate in a business that meets the business skills criteria for residence *
  • The spouse of the main applicant can work in any occupation (unless the spouse points are required for the subsequent PR application)
  • The time in Australia on this visa does NOT count towards the time required (2 years as a PR visa holder) to apply for Australian citizenship (and an Aus passport)
  • You are free to travel to and from Australia as often as you want during the validity of the visa
  • You can NOT sponsor other family members for a visa while on this visa (as you are a temporary resident). We are still looking at the option to sponsor a spouse while on this visa - and will advise on this shortly.
  • As part of your application, you will be required to sign a declaration acknowledging that you understand and accept the terms of the SIR (provisional) visa if granted.
  • Can you work in a regional area while your family lives in a main city ? NO. The family unit must reside in a designated area - this is verified by amongst other ways - by providing evidence of dependent children attending local schools in the designated area.
  • The main applicant for the PR visa can work for multiple employers i.e. as long as the main applicant works for at least 12 months in the 3 years in a designated area, you can progress to PR.
Type of work permitted in Australia

You may work in any occupation in Australia, however, the empkloyment must be full-time. Thsi means a min 35 hours per week. It is expected that SIR visa holders be employed in their nominated occupaion for which they were sponsored.

Working in a semi-or unskilled (non SOL) occupation may mean that they would be unable to secure sponsorship or nomination from a state / territory government or employer for a permanent visa.

What happens if you can NOT achieve the requirements for a PR Visa after the initial 3 years ?
  • a Further ONE year SIR (Prov) visa may be applied for and granted to you if you complied with the conditions of your visa. Note that you can only apply for this additional one year ONCE.
  • If you do not meet the requirements for a further SIR visa, or for any of the PR visas (described below) you will be required to depart Australia on the day (or before) your current SIR (prov) visa expires.
Is it risky to apply for this visa i.r.o the 3 (+1) visa validity period ?
  • No. Our opinion is that the "risk" is relatively low.
  • If you are in Aus on this visa, you will obviously "work" (unless you have millions - in which case you would most likely be applying for a business / investor type visa). Therefore, if you live (at least 2 years) and work (for at least 12 months) in a designated area, you can progress to PR.
  • If you are using this visa to enter Australia with the intention to establish or participate in a business, same thing applies. You will most likely do this in your first year or two, and can therefore move on to PR within the 3 years (+1 if required).
When should you apply for this visa ?
  • We assume that overall processing times will be approximately 6 months for the 04/05 financial year. The "countdown" (3 year validity) starts at date of visa grant. Therefore, you should make application for this visa when you are relatively certain that you intend to, or will, move over to settle in Australia within 4-6 months after visa grant.
Which states will sponsor, and which occupations will they sponsor ?
  • NOTE - not all the occupations on the SOL will be eligible for sponsorship by the states !

The following states and territory governments are participating in the SIR (provisional) program:

Can you work in a designated area as well as in a major city ?

  • NO. Your visa will have a condition 8539 on it. This condition requires you to live, work (and study if applicable) in a low population growth metropolitan or regional area of Australia (in the state that sponsored your application). Therefore, you would be in breach of your visa conditions if you work in a "major city" (except Adelaide). However, if your regional employer requires you conduct certain tasks / duties (work) in a major city - that will not constitute a breach of your visa conditions.
  • Also, if you conduct your own business, and part of the business operations require you to also conduct business in a major city area - that will be fine.

HOW DO YOU PROGRESS TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY ?

SIR (provisional) visa holders may apply for any of the following 3 permanent residence visas

(1) Regional Sponsored Migration scheme (RSMS) - read more about the RSMS scheme
      • This visa is rather difficult to apply for when the applicant is offshore (outside Australia). Reason: Why would an employer sponsor you based on a CV he gets via email ? However, when you are in Australia, on the SIR (prov) visa, and you live and work in a designated area, this option becomes extremely feasible and realistic.
      • What do you need to progress to this PR visa ?
        • Sponsorship by a regionally based employer, offering you a position of employment in a regional area.
      • How soon can you apply for this PR visa ?
        • After 2 years stay in a designated area
      • You must be under age 45 at time of application for this visa, and you must meet the basic criteria for skilled migration. This visa is NOT points tested
(2) Skilled state and Territory Nominated Independent visa (STNI)
      • This visa is the "main" PR visa applied for by SIR visa holders
      • You have to live in the sponsoring state for the first 2 years.
      • You (or your spouse) must work in the designated area for at least 12 months in the 24 that you live there (and work in a SOL occupation)
      • The state the sponsors you for permanent residence under the STNI sheme.
      • You can be over 45 at time of application for the STNI visa (only if you hold a SIR visa)
(3) State or Territory sponsored Business owner (residence) visa (SBO) - read more about the SBO visa
      • If you are under age 55 at time of application, and you established as owner or part owner a business in a regional / designated area, and that business meets the basic criteria for a SBO visa, then application for permanent residence under this visa subclass may be made.
      • The basic business owner (state sponsored) visa criteria are set out here (note it is the state sponsored version only that applies)
      • This option to progress to PR is ideal for those applicants that have only 110 or 115 points currently (e.g. many applicants aged 35 - 44) under the skills points test. These applicants can enter Australia on this visa, then establish or participate as owner / part owner in a business and progress to PR. Note that applicants intending to follow this path must ensure that they have at least AUD 300 000 available for transfer to Australia - and must transfer this amount soonest after arrival here to meet the SBO criteria.
Important considerations:
  • Applicants for any of the above 3 PR visas must front load their applications with Australian police clearances at time of application
  • Those applicants that have been in Australia on a student visa where they have completed a minimum of 2 years full time study, and where they meet all the basic criteria for a skills visa (age, language, nominated occupation on the SOL, positive occupations skills assessment) may also apply for the SIR visa
  • Before making application for any of the PR visa options, applicants MUST evidence that they lived in a designated area for at least 2 years in the previous 3 years immediately preceding date of application for the PR visa, and that they worked (or for instance conducted their own business) for at least 12 months in the preceding 3 years immediately before making application for permanent residence.

 

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