Benefits of the RSMS Pathway to Permanent Residence
The RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) has significant benefits as compared to other skilled migration pathways.
However, changes are due to be introduced in March 2018 which will make eligibility for RSMS much more restricted.
This article discusses the benefits of the RSMS program and highlights the changes which are due to be introduced.
The RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) is a permanent employer sponsored visa.
To qualify, you would need to have a job offer in a regional area of Australia. The position must be in an RSMS postcode – this covers most of Australia including the whole of Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, and Tasmania.
The position must be assessed by a Regional Certifying Body (RCB) – this would generally be the state regional development agency or chamber of commerce. The RCB will check that the business and position are genuine and that the employer has not been able to fill the position locally.
When the visa is granted, the holder is required to work for the employer for 2 years, otherwise, the visa can be canceled.
RSMS has the widest occupations list of any skilled migration visa type. Any occupation at ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 can be used to apply for an RSMS visa. The RSMS Occupations List includes the following occupation categories:
Skill Level 1: Management and Professional occupations requiring a bachelor degree or 5 years of work experience
Skill Level 2: Associate Professional occupations requiring a diploma-level qualification or 3 years of work experience
Skill Level 3: Technician and Trade occupations requiring a Certificate III which includes 2 years of on-the-job training or a Certificate IV
The RSMSOL includes 224 occupations which are not on either the STSOL (used for 457 and ENS visa applications) or the MLTSSL (used for Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visas). These include occupations such as:
- Various Specialist Managers such as PR managers, Policy and Planning Managers, Production Managers, Procurement Managers, Wholesalers and Importers or Exporters
- Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers such as Retail Managers, Call or Contact Centre Managers and Financial Institution Branch Managers
- Occupations in the Arts such as performers, authors, directors
- Human Resources occupations
- Sales Representatives in Industrial, Medical and Pharmaceutical Products
- Air and Sea Transport Professionals such as pilots, ships engineers etc
- Science occupations such as biochemists, metallurgists, research and development managers
- Various engineering professional, technician and drafting specializations
- Office Managers and Practice Managers
- Receptionists, secretaries, and personal assistants
- Child Care Group Leaders
- Various trades
From March 2018, the selection of occupations for RSMS will be much more limited. Most applicants will need to have an occupation on the MLTSSL – at 183 occupations, this is much shorter than the RSMSOL which has 673 occupations. Additional occupations may be available for regional positions, but at this stage, it is not clear how many extra occupations will be available.
Most applicants only need to meet the ANZSCO skill level for their occupation to meet the skill requirement for RSMS. Either a formal qualification or work experience is generally sufficient to meet the ANZSCO skill level, though registration is also necessary if this would be required for the position.
Unlike general skilled migration or the ENS Direct Entry Stream, a formal skills assessment is not in general required. This would normally only be necessary where nominating a trade occupation and where the applicant does not have an Australian trade certificate.
In terms of minimum work experience, this is currently not required if you hold a relevant qualification. This means that international students can potentially qualify for an RSMS visa without any work experience.
From March 2018, a minimum of 3 years of work experience in the occupation will be required when applying for an RSMS visa.
Unlike the 457 and ENS programs, the employer does not need to show that they have met the training benchmarks to be able to sponsor for RSMS. Establishing compliance with the training benchmarks is generally the most involved part of applying for 457 and ENS, so this is of great benefit.
From March 2018, a training levy will be payable when applying for an RSMS visa. For smaller businesses with under AUD 10 million in turnover, the training levy will be $3,000. For larger businesses, the levy will be $5,000. It is not yet clear if this can be paid by the individual applying for the RSMS visa, or whether it must be paid by the employer.
For the Direct Entry RSMS pathway, Competent English is sufficient to qualify (6 in each band) – this is similar to what is required for the ENS visa but significantly easier than the requirement for General Skilled Migration.
To meet the pass mark of 60 points for General Skilled Migration, many applicants will need Proficient English (7 in each band of IELTS or equivalent). Many applicants in pro rata occupations need 65 or 70 points to receive an invitation for a Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa – these applicants may need to get full points for Superior English (8 in each band or equivalent).
The RSMS visa is a permanent visa which allows you to live in Australia indefinitely, access to certain government benefits, local student rates for education courses and eventually eligibility for Australian citizenship.
This is more beneficial than the 457 visa, which for most occupations is now valid for only 2 years. It is also more beneficial than the Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visa, which is a 4-year visa which requires you to live and work in a regional area for 2 years before being eligible for permanent residence.
Your RSMS visa can be canceled if you do not commence work with your employer or if you do not stay with the employer for 2 years. However, if this is due to circumstances beyond your control (eg business downturn), your visa is unlikely to be canceled, particularly if you do continue to live in a regional area.
The RSMS is a highly beneficial visa which in many ways is easier to qualify for than the 457, ENS and General Skilled programs.
However, from March 2018, many applicants will no longer be eligible for the RSMS visa – particularly if your occupation is not on the MLTSSL or if you do not have 3 years of skilled work experience.