With all of South Australia (SA) being classified as a “regional area” for migration purposes, it offers more visa options (and potentially a greater chance to secure permanent residency) to applicants who are prepared to live, work and/or study in the State (these obligations will depend on the visa being applied for). With the Government largely focused on encouraging and promoting greater regional migration, more initiatives may be introduced in the future, offering yet more opportunities for potential migrants to qualify for a visa to Australia. 

A recent example of this policy being implemented is the commencement of a new provisional regional sponsored visa programme, which introduced two new visas from 16 November 2019, for which 25,000 places have been set aside this year. Applications for the new visas are also subject to priority processing, which potentially means a quicker turnaround time to decision (depending on your personal circumstances and provided that all required information and documents are provided to the Department of Home Affairs (“the Department”) at time of lodgement). 

In this article, we focus on South Australia, exploring visa options that enable applicants to settle or study in the State, including opportunities for state nomination, and study for regional purposes. We also take a look at some of the non-migration aspects of South Australia which make it so appealing as a destination for both travel and migration.

Provisional Regional Sponsored Visa Programme

Under this recently introduced visa programme, potential applicants may be sponsored either by the State of South Australia, or by a relative who resides in the State, for a Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. This skilled visa, which is also part of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa program, is points-based, meaning you must achieve a minimum score of 65 points in the Migration Points Test to qualify (this is the current pass mark, which can change at any time). You will also earn an additional 15 points to be counted towards the points test on account of the sponsorship.

The subclass 491 visa is invitation-based, which means you first need to submit an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) with the Department before you can apply for the visa itself. You must also lodge a separate application for State Sponsorship with Immigration SA if you applying to the State to nominate you (this is not required if you are applying under the family-sponsored stream, for which invitations are solely assessed and issued by the Department).

Invitations for the family sponsored stream are issued in monthly “rounds,” which take place on or around the 11th of each month. State Sponsored invitations are issued throughout the month by Immigration SA. The Department publishes the results of each invitation round as well as monthly State and Territory nomination approvals. For the latest results, please see our article on the Skill Select Invitation Round – 11 December 2019. To learn more about how the invitation system works, please click here.

Only upon receipt of an invitation can you then proceed to lodge the visa application, which you must do so within 60 days.

Alternatively, an employer in SA may sponsor you for a Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa. You may be sponsored either under the Employer Sponsored or Labour Agreement stream. Depending on the stream under which you apply, your proposed sponsoring employer must either be an approved Standard Business Sponsor or have a current Labour Agreement in place, and they must lodge a nomination application with the Department in order to sponsor you. A separate visa application must also be lodged by you separately.

Both the subclass 491 and 494 visas are issued for a term of five years. Eligible family members may also apply as visa dependents.

As either a subclass 491 or 494 visa holder, you and all your visa dependents must comply with visa condition 8579, which requires you to live, work and, where applicable, study, in a designated regional area of Australia (this includes the entire State of South Australia). You can move between designated regional areas. It is very important to be aware that non-compliance with this visa condition can result in the visa being cancelled and may affect your ability to qualify for the permanent residence visa (see more about this visa below).

Both the subclass 491 and 494 visas each provide a pathway to permanent residence with a Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa, which will commence from 16 November 2022. To qualify, you will need to have held a provisional regional sponsored visa for at least three years, have earned a minimum taxable income threshold for three years (this is currently set at $53,900), and have complied substantially with the conditions of the 491 or 494 visa and in particular, condition 8579 (as noted above).

State Sponsorship Programme

Another option offered under the State Sponsorship programme is to apply for State nomination to the South Australian Government in order to qualify for a Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visa, which grants immediate permanent residence in Australia. Like the Subclass 491 visa discussed above, the Subclass 190 visa is also state sponsored, but it is not restricted only to regional parts of Australia (i.e. it is open to all participating state and territory governments in Australia, which includes SA). As part of the requirements for state sponsorship, you will need to commit to living in SA for at least two years following visa grant. You will also earn an additional 5 points to be counted towards the points test on account of the sponsorship.

Please be aware that State Sponsorship requirements (which apply to the subclass 491, 494 and 190 visas if applying in South Australia, given SA is both a State and also qualifies as a “regional area”) are separate and distinct from those which are set by the Department, and you must satisfy all such criteria in order to qualify for the visa. Each State and Territory Government sets its own requirements for granting sponsorship approval, which can be more extensive than those that are prescribed by the Department (for example, you may need to achieve a higher English language competency, or have a certain minimum amount of skilled work experience to qualify for state sponsorship).

To qualify for SA State Sponsorship, key requirements you will need to satisfy include:

  • You must have a genuine interest and commitment to living and working in South Australia, with a view to long-term settlement in the state;
  • You must be aged under 45 years at time of nomination;
  • Your nominated occupation must be included on the State Nominated Occupation List for SA. You may also be able to access a wider selection of nominated occupations (under a supplementary occupation list and ‘special conditions apply’ occupations) in some circumstances. For example, the chain migration pathway, which is available to applicants who have an eligible family member residing in South Australia, provides access to an expanded list of nominated occupations to qualify for subclass 491 SA nomination;
  • Having a positive skills assessment from the prescribed assessing body for your nominated occupation;
  • Have at least one year of skilled work experience in the last three years. Be aware that for some occupations, a higher work experience requirement applies. If you are an international graduate of South Australia, you may be able to access a work experience waiver;
  • You must meet the minimum English language requirement for your occupation as set by Immigration SA (unless you are exempt as a result of being a passport holder or citizen of the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada or New Zealand); and
  • Meet a financial capacity requirement, which requires you to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to settle in SA.

You can find more information about the SA nomination requirements here.

For more details about the new Subclass 491 and 494 provisional regional sponsored visas, please refer to the following articles:

New Skilled Regional Visas to be introduced

An overview on all Skilled Regional Sponsored Visas

Further Regulations released for the new regional sponsored visas to commence from 16 November 2019

Applications for the new provisional regional sponsored visas are now open

More information about the Subclass 190 visa and State Sponsorship can be accessed here:

Roadmap for skilled applicants – which road should I take?

State Sponsorship Options

Employer Sponsored Visa Programme

Another employer sponsored option which is targeted to South Australia is to apply for a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa under the Labour Agreement stream. The introduction of two new Designated Area Migration Agreements for South Australia (DAMA SA) enables eligible employers to sponsor applicants for an initial temporary visa, which may also provide a pathway to permanent residence visa under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) in selected occupations.

A new Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement has also commenced from 1 January 2020, which will enable horticultural employers to apply to sponsor a migrant worker for a Subclass 482 visa in one of 31 approved occupations. Permanent residency pathways are also available under this new Labour Agreement, through the Subclass 494 visa, with a pathway to a Subclass 191 visa after three years, or a Subclass 186 visa after three to four years as a TSS visa holder.

You can read more about this new Labour Agreement here.

Also be aware that the Labour Agreement stream noted above is only one of three streams available under the TSS visa programme. Eligible applicants may alternatively qualify under the short or medium-term stream. Other Labour Agreements are also in place apart from the Labour Agreements discussed above which applicants may consider, which are specific to individual employers, industries, etc.

A subclass 482 visa can be granted for up to four years (depending on the visa stream and nominated occupation selected), and may also provide a pathway to permanent residence with a Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa after 3 years (transitional arrangements are available to certain Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders, the predecessor to the current TSS visa).   

The employer nominated subclass 186 visa comprises a Direct Entry, Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) and Labour Agreement stream. The TRT option provides a pathway to permanent residence for eligible TSS subclass 482 visa holders (and for holders of its predecessor, the Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa) after 3 years. This pathway is also available under the labour agreement stream in certain cases. The Direct Entry stream is for eligible applicants who automatically qualify for permanent residence.

Skilled Independent Visa

Apart from the visa options discussed above, some of which are State and Regional targeted programmes, eligible applicants seeking to live and work in South Australia can also apply for the more general options, which are available to all applicants, no matter where they choose to settle in Australia.

This includes the Subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa, a points-based visa which forms part of the GSM programme. It operates in a similar way to the Subclass 190 visa, except that it is not State Sponsored. This means eligible applicants need only submit an EOI with the Department (no separate State Sponsorship application is required). Subclass 189 visa holders are also not subject to any further State or Territory requirements once the visa is granted (i.e. they can live and work anywhere in Australia). Being non-State or Regional sponsored also means you do not earn any additional points on account of the sponsorship.

You can find more information about the subclass 189 visa, as well as other skilled visa options here. Please also see our Skilled Visa Page for further details about these options. 

International Students

International graduates of South Australia have access to a larger list of occupations for state nomination and can access waivers, as follows:

  • State Nominated Occupation List (including Special Conditions apply occupations);
  • Supplementary Skilled List occupations;
  • State nomination for the Provisional 491 visa; and
  • State nomination for the Permanent 190 visa.

You can read more about the requirements for State Sponsorship in South Australia that apply to international graduates here.

Interstate graduates can also access occupations on the SA Lists of State Nominated Occupations if they meet specified requirements. Eligibility depends on where you gained your work experience (in South Australia, interstate or offshore), and where you are currently residing. 

High Performing International Graduates of South Australia

Immigration SA recognises high performing international graduates from South Australian public universities (in the last two years) to qualify for state nomination through the “high performing graduate” category.

As a high-performing graduate, you will have access to a more extensive list of occupations on either the State Nominated Occupation List or the Supplementary Skilled List, as well as waivers to Immigration SA’s work experience and English language requirements.

Be aware that you still need to meet the English and work experience required for your skills assessment and registration (if your occupation requires registration).

Long-term residents of South Australia

Immigration SA recognises the long pathway that some students take to achieving their career and permanent residency goals, especially current and former students who have contributed to and remained in South Australia (and no other jurisdiction) for many years, showing their ongoing commitment to the state.   

It offers state nomination for a Provisional 491 visa to applicants who:

  • Are current or former international students residing in South Australia;
  • Have continually resided in South Australia for the last 7 years (at time of state nomination application) and continue to reside in South Australia; and
  • Are currently working in South Australia in any occupation (does not need to be at a skilled level) for at least the last 3 months (minimum of 40 hours per fortnight); or is studying a course with a minimum duration of one academic year in South Australia.

Other Initiatives aimed at promoting regional migration, which includes the entire State of South Australia

The Government has also recently announced another new initiative aimed at promoting regional migration, this one aimed for international students living and studying in South Australia who may, from 2021, qualify for two additional years in Australia on a post-study Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa.

Before we go on to discuss this new initiative, let us first provide some further information about the Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa. This visa can be very beneficial for recent graduates who are planning to apply for a permanent residence visa in the future. The graduate visa is only available to international student graduates. It allows you to remain in Australia for between 18 months and 4 years (depending on the stream under which you apply) and provides unrestricted work and study rights. You can use the time you have as a Temporary Graduate visa holder to work on the elements which you will need to qualify for a skilled visa in the future. For example, you can gain skilled work experience in your nominated occupation, prepare for and sit an English language test and/or complete further study to gain an additional qualification.

The advantage of the Graduate visa is that you are free to spend your time in Australia as you wish. You will not be subject to any specific obligations or restrictions as would normally apply to other visa classes (for example, student visa holders must complete their course of study; employer sponsored visa holders must work in their nominated position on a full-time basis only for their nominating employer, etc.).

If you are considering applying for a graduate visa, it is important to be aware of two key dates:

  • You must apply within six months of holding an eligible student visa (this forms part of the valid application lodgement requirements); and
  • You must lodge your application within six months of completing your qualification (this forms a part of the Australian Study Requirement, which you will need to satisfy to qualify for visa grant).

Further detailed information about the subclass 485 visa may be found in the series of guides that we have produced, which highlight important factors that potential applicants should be aware of before applying, including our Comprehensive Guide to Temporary Graduate Subclass 485 Visa, which you can access here.

Our article on Qualification criteria for Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa examines the graduate work stream and the steps you can take to be eligible for a graduate visa. 

To qualify for a subclass 485 visa under the graduate work stream, applicants need to nominate an occupation on the relevant Skilled Occupation List. You can find further details about this in our article Occupation lists – what are they and how do they apply to graduates.

Australian Graduate Visa FAQs outlines some common mistakes that international student graduates make when applying for the visa, what to watch out for to avoid an invalid application or visa refusal and what can happen as a result of a refusal.

How graduates can get state sponsorship in South Australia provides an overview of the South Australian state sponsorship option under the Subclass 190 visa programme, which may be available to international graduates.

See also the Top 5 Graduate Visa Tips AND How to spend your time on a graduate visa wisely and the Most common refusal reasons for graduate visas articles for more information.

New post-study Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa

The new post-study Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa will enable eligible current and prospective graduate visa holders to apply for an additional one to two years in Australia. This new visa will be available to applicants who have graduated from the regional campus of a registered education institution with a higher education or postgraduate qualification and maintained continuing residence in a regional area for at least 2 years whilst holding their first Temporary Graduate Visa.

International students studying at regional universities in cities and major regional centres will be eligible to access an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa. Eligible areas are Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart.

International students studying at regional universities in regional centres and other regional areas will be eligible to access an additional 2 years in Australia on a post-study work visa. Eligible areas are all those excluding Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and those listed above.

You can read more about this new initiative here.

Additional points for regional study

Students studying in South Australia can also gain extra points for “regional study” to be counted towards a GSM skilled visa (subclass 189, 190 or 491 visa).

To gain 5 points for “study in regional Australia,” applicants must have at least one degree, diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution that satisfies the Australian study requirement obtained while living and studying in an eligible area of regional Australia.

To be eligible for these 5 additional points, your educational qualification must:

  • meet the Australian study requirement;
  • have been obtained whilst you lived in, and studied at a campus in a designated regional area; and
  • not include study undertaken by distance education.

You will also earn 5 points for meeting the Australian study requirement. This means 10 points in total towards the points test are available to graduates of South Australia. Graduates of non-regional areas are entitled to only 5 points for meeting the Australian Study Requirement.

To meet the Australian study requirement, you must have completed either:

  • a single eligible qualification that requires at least two academic years study; or
  • more than one qualification that results in a total of at least two academic years of study resulting in an eligible qualification.

You must have completed your study in Australia, in a total of no less than 16 calendar months, while you held a visa authorising you to study.

Your course/s, resulting in the award of an eligible degree, diploma or trade qualification, must be registered and completed in English.

Two academic years of study means 92 weeks that contributes towards one or more acceptable qualification/s.

Working Holiday Maker Visa programme

A Working Holiday Maker Visa (WHV) is targeted to younger travellers who are seeking an extended holiday in Australia. Visa holders are also able to study and work on a limited basis. There are two types of WHV’s, a Working Holiday subclass 417 visa and a Work and Holiday subclass 462 visa. The main difference between these visa subclasses is the eligible passport which you must have in order to meet valid visa lodgement and grant requirements. 

A first year WHV allows you to spend 12 months in Australia from your first entry date. There are no regional requirements in the first year, which means visa holders can live and work in any part of Australia during this period.

However, regional work criteria apply if you are seeking to extend your stay for an additional one to two years in Australia. You may qualify for a second year Working Holiday visa to extend your stay by a further 12 months if you complete three months of specified work in an eligible postcode of regional Australia (which includes the entire State of South Australia).

And, in changes recently introduced, eligible applicants can now apply for a third year WHV if six months of specified work in a regional area of Australia has been completed on or after 1 July 2019.

You can read more about the changes to the WHV programme here:

Major Working Holiday Visa Changes

Changes to the Working Holiday Maker Visa 2019

What’s it like to travel and live in South Australia?

If you are looking for a relaxed, family-friendly and affordable lifestyle, opportunity, vast landscapes from beaches on the coast to rolling hills and grasslands, pleasant climate and a culturally diverse population, then you should consider South Australia. Whether you’re looking to live, work and/or study in Australia, this State has it all, including a vibrant culture featuring live music bars, clubs, restaurants, festivals, sporting events, food, wine and the arts. Longer summers with warmer weather and milder winters means more opportunities to explore the beautiful landscapes, whether that be the city and bustling cosmopolitan Adelaide, or country areas, with smaller tight-knight communities with vast open spaces and plenty of fresh air in the hills and ranges; you are sure to find the right place for you. The State also has a rich indigenous history, going back more than 40,000 years to when the Kaurna Aboriginal people settled in the Adelaide Plains.

So what are some places that you can visit? Apart from the most well-known area being Adelaide, which is known for its multitude of festivals including the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe, you can also explore the Adelaide Hills, only a short distance away from the main city centre. There you will find the Australia Museum of Motoring, fine dining and cellar doors. To experience a world-renowned wine region and vineyards, then Barossa is the place for you. The Eyre Peninsula offers premium seafood and natural attractions featuring coastal, national parks and wildlife. In the Flinders Ranges and Outback, with its vast and diverse landscapes, you will also find opals and can experience hot air ballooning. For coastal scenery, wildlife and ecotourism, look no further than Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula where you can also experience wine tasting and whale watching. The Limestone Coast has natural wonders including Naracoorte Caves National Park and diving and water sports on Blue Lake. If you’d like to experience river cruises, water sports, recreational boating, motorsports and horseracing, then you should include the Murray River on your list of places to visit, for plenty of family fun and unique activities and experiences. The Yorke Peninsula is the place for food and wine, including the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend annual event and fishing & seafood industries. You can also take part in adventurous experiences, fishing, snorkelling, mountain biking and four-wheel driving.

South Australia is also an affordable and safe place to live, has a welcoming community and offers high quality healthcare, education and training from internationally recognised universities, an extensive Vocational Education and Training (VET) system and a highly regarded primary and secondary school sector. It’s also easy to get around, whether you drive, walk, cycle, or take one of the many public transport options available including buses, trains and trams. Airline travel is also convenient, whether you are travelling interstate or internationally.

A strong economy which has experienced growth in recent times, and with major developments currently underway, there is more in store for the future. As a new migrant, Immigration SA will provide you with services to help you to not only settle, but also thrive. It has formed relationships with community-based organisations that are there to support you on arrival in South Australia. Services include regular information sessions, workshops and seminars to assist you with settlement and in searching for and securing employment.

If you would like to find out more information about South Australia and what it has to offer, we recommend you visit Immigration SA’s website which features comprehensive information about living and working in the South Australia, and exploring this vast and diverse State. 

Click here for more.

You can also read more about South Australia and what is has to offer in our article on Why should you consider SA skilled regional sponsorship visa as a pathway to live the Australian dream.


South Australia


Government of South Australia – Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Move to South Australia – Changes to GSM state nomination policies


Government of South Australia – Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Move to South Australia – Supporting Information 


Government of South Australia – Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Move to South Australia – International graduates – Supporting Documentation


Government of South Australia – Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Move to South Australia – Why South Australia