New permanent residency pathway for Pacific Islanders
Early next year the Australian Federal Government is expected to introduce a new visa category, the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) which was designed to be similar to New Zealand’s Samoan Quota and Pacific Access Category. The legislation passed through the Senate on 18 October 2023.
Eligible countries could include Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Recipients of the visa will be decided on by a ballot system and allow up to 3000 nationals from a range of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to migration to Australia as permanent citizens.
Up to 3,000 visas will be allocated to Pacific Islanders annually by a ballot process across participating countries. Those selected in the ballot will be able to apply for permanent residence in Australia. The cost of entering in the ballot is expected to be around $25.
Allocations will be a decision for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Priority will be given to countries with limited permanent migration opportunities to Australia, and countries without citizenship rights with New Zealand, France and the United States.
One reason that has been touted for introducing the visa is that it offers a better option for these countries than simply providing aid. And it will also be a tick for Australia at the next Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands.
The Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) will increase permanent migration from the Pacific and Timor-Leste, strengthening people-to-people links, and encouraging greater cultural, business and educational exchange.
To be eligible for the Pacific Engagement Visa, primary applicants will need to:
· be aged between 18 to 45 to enter the ballot
· be selected through the ballot process
· secure a formal ongoing job offer in Australia (or their partner/spouse must have a job offer)
· meet English language, character and health checks
· hold a passport for a participating country
· have been born in or have a parent who was born in an eligible country.
Applicants can include a partner and legally dependent children in their application.
The Australian Government will establish a service in the Pacific to connect successful applicants with employers in Australia, providing access to a variety of roles at a range of skill levels.