Australia has initiated a permanent visa program tailored for individuals from the Pacific Islands

Australia has launched a new permanent resident visa program, facilitating immigration for citizens from Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste.

As per the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a lottery system will randomly select eligible applicants, offering them the opportunity to apply for the visa.

The Pacific Engagement Visa aims to boost permanent migration from the Pacific and Timor-Leste, fostering the diaspora in Australia, enhancing people-to-people connections, and promoting cultural, business, and educational exchanges.

This program has the capacity to grant permanent residence visas to up to 3,000 individuals from the designated countries annually, with provisions for partners and dependent children of the visa recipients.

Eligible applicants must be from countries such as Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Selection criteria for the visa include being aged between 18 and 45, participating in the ballot, having a job secured in Australia, meeting English language proficiency, character, and health requirements, and holding a passport from one of the participating countries.

Applicants are required to pay a $16 fee to enter the competition.

The Pacific Engagement Visa initiative, distinct from the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, allows nationals from these countries to attain permanent residency in Australia. PALM restricts participants to temporary work in Australia in cases of local labor shortages.

Through the PALM scheme, Pacific and Timor-Leste workers can work for up to nine months in Australia and pursue long-term job opportunities. Conversely, the Pacific Engagement Visa enables up to 3,000 visa recipients, along with their families, to relocate to Australia upon selection through the electronic ballot process.

This table compares key aspects of the PALM scheme and the Pacific Engagement Visa program:

Program SettingsPacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) SchemeProgram Settings
PurposeOffer job opportunities to Pacific IslandersImprove links between Australia and the Pacific
Participating CountriesFiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, VanuatuFederated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
Number of participantsDepends on the demand3,000 (inclusive of partners and children)
Application processWorker registers with a labor agency, showing interest to work in Australia; Employer starts recruitment process; Worker then applies for an employer-sponsored visaEligible applicants register for an annual ballot; The electronic system selects applicants; Successful applicants and their families can apply for PEV
Length of stay in AustraliaShort-term: up to nine months; Long-term: one to four years; Permanent stay in AustraliaPermanent residency visa
Visa typeSubclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) VisaPermanent residency visa
Eligibility21 years or older; Sponsored by a PALM scheme employer; English language requirement for long-term workers, in addition to health and character requirements18 to 45 years old; Selected through the ballot; Job secured in Australia; English language proficiency, character, and health requirements met; Passport holder of one of the participating countries; Presentation of applicants’ or their parent’s birth certificates in the participating countries
LocationEmployers in the agriculture sector based in Australia, as well as employers in other sectors as long as they are based in regional or rural AustraliaNo restrictions
Skill levelUnskilled, low-skilled, and semi-skilledAny skill level
Family/dependantsCannot bring partner or children to AustraliaCan bring partner and children
BenefitsHealth insurance; Access to Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Subsidy, and Medicare for workers in the family accompaniment pilotMedicare, public schools, Child Care Subsidy, and Family Tax Benefits; No waiting periods for Austudy or Youth Allowance; Access to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and VET Student Loans

This initiative seeks to provide fair and transparent access to eligible individuals from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste through a random ballot selection, including existing PALM workers in Australia.

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