Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 Visa

This is a permanent residence work visa for people who have found a job in regional Australia and the employer is willing to sponsor them. Regional Australia is defined as all of Australia except the following places:

  • Gold Coast
  • Brisbane
  • Sydney
  • Newcastle
  • Wollongong
  • Melbourne

This visa has three streams but the two main streams are as follows:

Temporary Resident Transition Stream

If you have been working for an employer in a regional area for two years on a 457 Temporary Work Visa, and your employer is willing to sponsor you again in the same occupation, you might be able to get this permanent work visa. The English language requirement is IELTS 5 or its equivalent.

Direct Entry Stream

If you have found an employer in a regional area willing to sponsor you in an occupation listed on the relevant skills shortage list in which you have the relevant qualifications and/or work experience, you might be able to get this visa. The requirements are slightly more rigorous in this stream. The English language requirement is higher, at IELTS 6, or its equivalent.

The sponsoring business has to show it genuinely needs an employee in the occupation it nominates, and genuinely needs to bring in a foreign worker as a result of not being able to source an employee locally. The business also has to show that the intended salary and other terms and conditions of employment are the same as an Australian citizen or permanent resident would expect. The assessment of these criteria is done by a Regional Certifying Body (RCB) that is familiar with the local employment market in the area where the business is located.


You must be under 50 years old at the time you apply (some exceptions exist for certain academics; certain scientists/researchers/ technical staff; medical practitioners holding certain visas; and New Zealand citizens holding certain visas).

English Language Requirement

Applicants may need to a sit an English exam and get at least the following scores:

  • Temporary Resident Transition Stream: score of 5 in the IELTS exam or its equivalent in another accepted English language test.
  • Direct Entry Stream: score of 6 in IELTS or its equivalent in another kind of English language test.

You may be exempt from the language requirement if any of the following apply:

  • You hold a passport from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, or Ireland
  • You will be earning more than the top individual income tax rate of $180, 001
  • You are applying through the Temporary Resident Transition stream and have completed five years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution and all tuition was in English
  • If your partner or any of your dependents on the visa application over 18 years old do not have functional English, an additional payment or payments will be necessary before the visa is granted. Functional English is evidenced by the following:
  • You have completed at least one-year full-time study, or the equivalent part-time study, towards a degree, higher degree, diploma or associate diploma in Australia with all teaching conducted in English
  • You achieved an average score of 4.5 in an IELTS test or the equivalent score in another accepted English language test in the 12 months before application or while the application is being processed
  • You have completed a degree or higher degree, a diploma or trade certificate, that required full-time study of at least two-years with all teaching conducted in English
  • You have completed 5 years of secondary education with all teaching conducted in English
  • You have completed your primary education and 3 years of secondary education with all teaching conducted in English
  • You have been assessed as having functional English in an interview with an Adult Migrant English Program service provider in Australia
  • If you are the main visa applicant and are relying on an exemption from the English language requirement as a result of your salary being higher than $180,001, you still must either prove you have at least functional English, or pay an additional payment before the visa is granted.

Skills, qualifications, and/or work experience

This visa is more flexible in relation to qualifications, skills, and work experience. One advantage is that many of the occupations listed on the relevant skills shortage list are of a lower skill level.

Another advantage is that for many occupations work experience can be used as a substitute if you don’t have a formal qualification. This means, for example, that if you don’t have a formal qualification but you have been working in a particular occupation in your own, or another, country, for at least a few years, this may substitute for your lack of formal qualification.

Another advantage is that you won’t need to get a formal skills assessment done by a skills assessing organisation unless you are interested in applying for a trades occupation, in which case you may need to pass a skills assessment.

You can satisfy the skills requirement if you

  • have the Australian qualification listed as necessary for the occupation; or
  • have a qualification from your own, or another country, and it is deemed to be equal to the Australian qualification required; or
  • have adequate work experience and can prove this with good quality references from previous employers detailing your work, in addition to other evidence that you worked for the employers for the period you claim

If you have been working on a 457 Temporary work visa with your regional employer for two years you do not need to prove you meet the skills requirement through qualifications or work experience.

The RSMS visa can be an easier route to permanent residency if you are willing to live in a regional area of Australia for at least two years, and provided you have an employer to sponsor you and provided you meet all the requirements.

Business & Position Assessment by Regional Certifying Body (RCB)

If you are the sponsoring employer and considering sponsoring a new employee to work in your business, you must first be assessed by a Regional Certifying Body (RCB). The RCB is an organisation tasked with assessing regional businesses that want to sponsor an employee on this visa.  The process involves selecting the right RCB in your area and providing them with certain documentation relating to your business, details of the position you want filled and evidence of why you need someone performing this occupation in your business, the salary you are paying, and evidence of your efforts to fill the position from the local labour market.

The RCB will determine, based on the information and documentation provided, whether it is a legitimate position, and your business has a legitimate need for an employee; that you genuinely can’t fill the position locally; and that you will pay the local market salary rate for the position.

If the RCB is satisfied that you have made your case, they will certify your business to the Immigration Department. Each RCB will charge a fee for this assessment regardless of the result. However, if you don’t provide enough information; provide documents that are inadequate or vague; if it is not clearly explained why you need this person and your argument is unconvincing, they will not certify the position.

Application Process

The basic process to get this visa is made up of two steps – the business nominates an occupation on the skills shortage list for a vacant position it wants filled in its business, and then the person who the business has decided it will sponsor submits a visa application to fill this position. In other words, there are two separate applications: one from the business and one from the person applying for the visa.

In practice however, this visa has three steps as listed below:

Step 1

The business seeks approval from a Regional Certifying Body (RCB), proving its need for an employee in this occupation in this business, and providing evidence that it can’t find a local and that it will pay the market salary.

Step 2

The business prepares a nomination application and submits it to the Department of Immigration nominating the occupation and declaring that it needs a person to undertake this occupation within its business. It shows it is a legitimate business and is actively trading; that it will pay the market salary rate for that particular position in that particular area and that the other terms and conditions of employment are consistent with what an Australian worker could expect; and that it will offer the worker a full-time employment contract for at least two years with the option for this to be on-going.

It shows that it has genuine reasons for needing to hire a person in this position in the business, and that there is a genuine need within the business for a person to perform the specific duties of the occupation it has selected from relevant skilled occupation lost.

For example, if the business is nominating the occupation of Accountant, but based on the information supplied the case officer assessing the application at the Department of Immigration notes that the business is very small and there is already an accountant working in the business, and that the actual duties of the role within the business are those of an Accounts Clerk rather than an Accountant, then the nomination will be refused. The refusal reasons may be that the business does not have a genuine need for another accountant given its size, and that given the specific duties it needs performed, it does not need an Accountant but an Accounts Clerk, and it has selected the wrong occupation.

Step 3

The person applying for the visa prepares a visa application providing evidence of his or her ability to fill the nominated position, such as evidence of having the required skills, qualifications and/or work experience and having the required English language skills.

Other evidence is also provided, such as evidence of age, and evidence that applicant and the applicant’s family members have no issues with health or character.

Including family members in your application

You are able to include the following family members in your application:

  • spouse or de facto partner (de facto partner can be same sex)
  • the dependent children under 18 and single of either partner (and their dependent children)
  • dependent children of either partner over 18 years’ old who are single and at the very least substantially reliant on the head of the family for food, clothes and shelter, or who are financially reliant and unable to work due to mental or physical incapacitation
  • and certain dependent relatives of either partner who are single and usually resident in the household and substantially reliant on the main family member

Health and Character Requirements

Both you, the visa applicant, and each member of the family unit who will migrate with you to Australia, and each member of the family unit who will not migrate with you, must have a medical check and get police clearances from each country lived in for more than 12 months in the past ten years. These are the health and character requirements. They are stringent for permanent residency visas such as this one.

If anyone in the family group have significant health issues these will have to be considered carefully before proceeding with the visa application. The problems a significant health issue in your family could cause in terms of the visa application depend very much on an economic assessment of costs associated with treating the condition in Australia, and on whether the particular condition is one where Australian citizens and permanent residents could have their access to scant resources affected as a result of treating the condition.

If any family member has criminal convictions, findings of guilt without a conviction being recorded, instances of conduct that could suggest the person is not of good character, then these will have to be disclosed upfront and an assessment made of the their likely effect on the visa application, and a strategy devised to address them, if that is a possibility, before proceeding with the visa application.

One fails All fail

It is important to understand that it is not only you, the applicant, that is assessed against the health and character requirements. It is all your family members included on your visa application who will migrate with you to Australia, in addition to all family members who will not migrate with you to Australia and who may have no intention of doing so. Regardless, everybody is required to undergo a health exam either in Australia or with a designated doctor in your own country if you are outside Australia; and everybody is required to pass the character test.

If one member of the family group fails any of the health and character requirements, this will mean everyone is deemed to fail, and the visa application will be refused.

How we help

If we think you have a reasonable chance of getting this visa, and the business has a reasonable chance of approval as a sponsor, we work through the following steps to prepare the various applications:

Step 1

We work with the sponsoring employer to prepare the necessary evidence for the Regional Certifying Body and prepare a written submission setting out the reasons why the business needs to employ a worker in a particular occupation and the reasons it has not been able to find a local to fill the position. We forward all of this to the local Regional Certifying Body. The Regional Certifying Body will charge a fee to assess the documents, which the business must pay. If the Regional Certifying Body is satisfied that everything seems legitimate and the argument is genuine, they will approve the business and provide certification to the Immigration Department.

Step 2

We then prepare the sponsoring employers’ nomination application and submit this to the Department of Immigration. All the same evidence we provided to the RCB we will provide again to the Department of Immigration so they can make their own assessment. The RCB certification carries a lot of weight and is mostly accepted but the Immigration Department want to see the evidence nonetheless.

We prepare a written submission to accompany the evidence explaining to the case officer who will make the decision on the application the nature of the business, the nature of the position and how it fits within the business, and an explanation of why the salary the business is paying the employee is reasonable for the position and is consistent with salaries paid to Australians doing the same job in the same area.

The case officer at the Department of Immigration will consider the RCB certification, the evidence and written submission provided and either make a decision, or request further information or clarification. Our aim is to provide the case officer a convincing argument supported by an adequate amount of convincing evidence. Doing this increases the chance of approval. If the case officer is satisfied all the criteria have been addressed and the need seems legitimate, the case officer will approve the nomination.

Step 3

Now we prepare and submit your visa application to fill the position that the business has just nominated. We work with you to make sure the evidence you have is sufficient to prove that you have the skills, qualifications, and/or work experience to fill the position the business has nominated. This may involve an assessment of your qualification to determine its validity; and if you are relying on work references to prove you have the work experience for the position, we provide advice on these. If they are deficient in any way, it may require you going back to former employers for better quality work references, in addition to collecting further evidence of your employment history. We also advise you on the English language exam you will need to take if you haven’t done one yet.

There is various other information and evidence needed, and various other police and health clearances for you and your family to gather. When it is ready, we submit it to the Department of Immigration.

Can you guarantee the business will be approved and I will get the visa? 

No. It is impossible to guarantee a result, and no ethical migration agent would provide a guarantee. It is possible that a carefully prepared application is still refused.

A certain amount of subjectivity is involved in an assessment. The case officer assessing your visa applications at the Department of Immigration will follow the laws as set out in the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, and a set of associated guidelines that accompanies this legislation, and will apply them to your application.

However, a case officer still has a reasonable amount of discretion during their assessment.

What you can do is limit your chances of refusal and increase your chances of approval by addressing any potential issues the case officer may find problematic upfront, providing as much quality evidence as possible to prove your claims and having well-written submissions prepared that explain how everything fits together.