The Morrison government has announced a fresh policy to tackle congestion in major cities with new visa categories that require migrants to live and work in regional areas for three years.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia's overall migration intake would be capped at 160,000 a year, which is roughly the same as the level of intake in recent years.
Under the new policy announced today, the federal government plans to create two regional visas offering up to 23,000 places for skilled workers.
The visas would make people eligible for permanent residence if they stay in regional Australia for three years.
The federal government will allocate 9000 regional visas and it plans to work with state governments, which would determine the remaining 14,000 based on their priorities.
Today's announcement would nearly triple the regional skilled migrant intake and increase the regional residency requirement by one year.
Last year's skilled intake was 111,000, of which 8,500 visas required migrants to live in the regions for two years.
The government's policy would also enable international students studying at regional universities to stay an extra year in Australia on a post-study work visa.
There are also 1000 new tertiary scholarships, each worth $15,000 for both Australian and international students to study in regional Australia.
"I know we have rural and regional communities that have plans and opportunities to grow their shires, who are looking for more people to come and settle in their districts, to fill jobs, inject more life into their towns and shore up the important education and health services for the future they rely on," Morrison said.
Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister David Coleman said permanent residency was the "absolute top priority" for migrants which creates a "very, very strong incentive" to comply with regional residency.
"This is not radically new either. We've already had some geographically restricted visas already. It is not a radically new concept here. It is expanding what we've been doing," Mr Coleman said.
Decentralisation and Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie told the National Press Club in an address at Wodonga, Victoria, today that 99.8 per cent of skilled migrants to regional areas established themselves in regional communities and stayed long term.
The story New visas to send more skilled workers to regions for longer first appeared on Farm Online.