One of the most common questions that gets raised in relation to State-Nominated (‘State Sponsored’) visas is whether you are bound to remain within the State (or Territory) that put their hand up to take you in the first place.
Most of what will follow relates to a general State/Territory-nominated visa (e.g. subclass 190) – if you are on a regional (e.g. subclass 489) nominated visa, additional criteria will apply and are discussed under the header later in this article. But the following points may also be useful for you.
As you’re no doubt aware, the purpose of the State-Nominated visa pathways is to provide the States an opportunity to match skilled workers with the demand for workers inside their jurisdiction. The deal, such as it is, is that if a State Government agrees to nominate you for a visa to move to Australia (and therefore also give you some bonus points towards your skilled visa), you agree in turn that you will live and work within that State for the first two years of your life in Australia.
It’s a win-win.
However, sometimes things do go wrong. Sometimes, despite a strong demand for workers, it can be hard to find a job. Sometimes, we are needed in another place to care for a family member or friend. Sometimes the place we land is not a good cultural fit and we just really want to get out as quickly as possible.
In these cases, what happens to your visa?
There is no hard-and-fast rule here. The first thing to note is that the subclass 190 visa is a permanent visa. Once granted, you have the right to remain in Australia as long as you want, and the agreement to live within a State is not going to affect the status of your visa, even if you leave.
In short, you have no obligation to remain in the State – even if you signed a document committing to exactly that.
However, such a decision could impact you in the future when you wanted to apply for citizenship, for example. There is a possibility that you could find yourself having to explain your actions to the person deciding your application.
The same applies if you ever have another application to the Department for a visa. Technically, failing to comply with this commitment doesn’t impact your future applications, however, a case officer looking at you might consider you a higher risk of failing to comply with your next visa if you so readily walked out on your commitment to your nominating Government.
So think long and hard before you decide to leave your sponsoring State.
What are my other options?
In all cases, we would strongly recommend discussing, or having your agent discuss, your situation with your sponsoring State Government agency. If you are having difficulty finding suitable work, for example (or if you have a much better job offer elsewhere) they may agree to release you from your agreement so you can pursue other opportunities.
They will be more likely to agree to let you move if you can demonstrate clearly to them that better opportunities for you exist elsewhere that simply cannot be found where you presently live – and especially if you have committed a reasonable amount of time and effort already into trying to make it work.
Obviously, if you can get them to cancel your agreement, that’s much better than failing to honour it!
Alternatively, if your issue relates to struggling to find a good job, or issues settling into your community, it’s also a good idea to talk to the relevant Agency that nominated you, because they will be able to connect you with resources designed to help make your experience more positive; these include assistance finding work. You’re not on your own – they have a lot invested in you and want to see the relationship work just as much as you do.
Communication is key.
The bottom line is that you’ve made a deal with the State that nominated you – and they lived up to their part of the deal. They can’t force you to stay, but you made a commitment. If you are having a problem that makes it difficult to stay, then the best thing you can do is talk about it and see if it can be resolved.
What if I just leave?
Because of your obligation to update the State and Federal Governments with your address details, both will know that you haven’t lived up to your end of the bargain. If you fail to update them, you run a serious risk of missing out on important communication from them about your visa.
Plus, keeping the Department informed of your address can be a condition of your visa so failing to do so might constitute a technical breach. Don’t do it.
What about a Regional visa (e.g. Subclass 489)?
There are additional considerations if you’re on a Subclass 489 visa, or another visa that requires you to live and work in a specified regional area. Primarily, you need to be very careful to ensure that, no matter what you do, you meet the requirements of the visa itself. The most obvious is the need to live for 2 years and work full time for 12 months in a regional or low population growth area.
In practice, this does not prevent you from moving to another State or Territory. However, if you haven’t yet met this threshold it may necessitate moving to a postcode that meets the definition of a regional or low population growth area. A list of postcodes is available on the DIBP website.
Some basic guidelines to follow:
- Don’t accept a State/Territory nomination if you don’t fully intend to live and work in that place for the first two years.
- If you do accept a nomination, go into the first two years with an open mind; it might not be where you think you want to end up, but there will be a lot about your new home that you can enjoy, and by getting fully immersed it might even start to feel like home.
- Get involved in your community, join interest groups, accept invitations to events, connect with other recent migrants and learn from their experience.
- If you find yourself in a position where you need to move to another State (e.g. you can’t find a job) or you want to move (e.g. you’ve been offered a better job), talk to your nominating State and see if they will give you their blessing, or help you pursue an equivalent opportunity locally. If they aren’t able, they may agree to let you move early.
- Always keep the Department and nominating State updated with your address.
Remember, it’s only two years – for most people, that’s a small investment to make for a lifetime in paradise!
- Migration Edge exist to ensure smooth journeys and fair treatment for those who wish to come to Australia.
Keen to learn more? We invite you to search our archive of articles here.
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