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Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)

***This visa program ceased to exist at 11:59pm AEST on 15 November 2019***

The new provisional subclass 494 visa came into effect on midnight of 16 November 2016. RSMS employer nominations lodged with the Department of Home Affairs on or prior to 15 November will need RCB (Regional Certifying Body) Assessment.

Information about the new visas can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website by clicking  HERE.

RDA Northern Rivers will accept RSMS 187 Visa applications that have been lodged with the Department of Home Affairs before the deadline. Applications may take up to 90 days to process.


The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs advised that two new visas will be introduced from November this year. RDA Northern Rivers will continue to act as a regional certifying body for these new visas. The introduction of the two new regional visas will not impact people who already hold existing visas. Applications lodged prior to November 2019 will continue to be processed as normal. Read more…


Regional Development Australia–Northern Rivers is the Regional Certifying Body (RCB) for the Northern Rivers from Tweed Heads in the north to Grafton in the south, including postcodes 2460- 2490.  Applicants outside the region should contact the RCB nearest to them, click HERE for a full list.

As of 1 January 2016 we will be implementing the following changes to the assessment process

  • The application processing fee will be $660 (inc GST)
  • Priority processing is no longer available.
  • All positions must be registered with a job placement agency along with the existing advertising requirements

If we advise that your application is unsuccessful, it may still be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) which will then assess it independently of our advice.  At the time of assessment by the Department, applicants will be given the opportunity to provide extra evidence in support of their application.

Please note the 1404 form was updated in July 2018. All applications must use the new 1404 form which can be downloaded from the Forms section below.

Applications must be addressed to The Certifying Officer and emailed to rda@rdanorthernrivers.org.au or mailed to PO Box 147 Lismore 2480.

What is the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)?

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme is a permanent employer sponsored visa which allows Australian employers in regional, remote or low population growth areas of Australia to sponsor foreign skilled workers to fill vacancies in their business.

The RSMS has three streams

1. Temporary Residence Transition stream

The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked with an Australian employer for at least the last 2 years in the nominated occupation and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position in the same occupation.

2. Direct Entry stream

The Direct Entry stream is for applicants who are untested in the Australian labour market and have not held a subclass 457 visa for at least 2 years or who are applying from outside of Australia. A nomination made under the RSMS Direct Entry stream cannot be approved by DIBP unless the relevant RCB has provided their advice in regard to the application. The RCB will provide the employer with their advice. The employer will need to submit the advice to the Department by attaching the form, using the e-lodgement facility, to the corresponding nomination application.  An RCB assessment should not be dated more than 3 months prior to lodgement of the nomination as you may be requested to obtain a fresh RCB assessment.

IMPORTANT The department will also assess the nomination. Employers should not assume that the Department will approve a nomination just because positive advice has been provided by an RCB.


  • (1) The nominating employer lodges the application online.


  • (2) The nominating employer completes Form 1404 and returns a copy, along with supporting documents and the appropriate processing fee (see below) to The Certifying Officer, PO Box 146, Lismore, NSW 2480 or via email to rda@rdanorthernrivers.org.au.

Assessment for Direct Entry stream

Nominations are assessed against the following criteria:

  • the employer’s business is actively and lawfully operating in Australia;
  • the position is available to the nominee for at least 2 years;
  • the terms and conditions of employment are the same as those that would apply to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing the same work in the same location;
  • there is no adverse information known to the department about the employer or a person associated with the employer;
  • the nominated position is in a regional area in Australia that qualifies for the RSMS;
  • the employer has complied with relevant workplace relations laws;
  • the nominated position relates to an occupation that is classified at skill level 1 to 3 within the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) framework*;
  • the employer demonstrates that the position cannot be filled by an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident living in the same local area;
  • the nominating business is located in the regional area in which the nominated position exists;
  • a Regional Certifying Body has assessed the nomination and provided advice to the Department as to whether certain specific requirements for the nomination have been met.

* Eligible positions include those in major Groups 1-3 in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) coding system, i.e. Group 1: Managers, Group 2: Professionals and Group 3: Technicians and Trade workers. Skill level 3 (Group 3) may be equivalent to an AQF Certificate 4 of AQF Certificate 3 plus 2 years on the job training. A link to the coding system, qualification requirements and position descriptions on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website is provided below.

In addition, the applicant for the nominated position must**:

  • be under 45 years of age at the time of application;
  • hold, or be eligible to hold, any mandatory registration, license or professional membership that allows you to perform the required tasks in the nominated position;
  • have a current offer for the position and evidence of an employment contract signed by the employer and applicant must be provided;
  • meet the mandatory health and character requirements. All migrating family members must also meet these requirements and non-migrating family members may also be required to do so.;
  • attain minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6 in all four assessments;
  • hold a relevant overseas qualification. Tradespeople without an Australian qualification require a skills assessment by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA).

** Exemptions for age, English requirements and qualifications may be available for applicants who are: nominated in an occupation where formal academic training is uncommon such as Ministers of Religion in an occupation where they would be paid executive-level salaries employed by Australian universities or scientific research agencies such as the CSIRO or ANSTO for research, academic or other specialist work academics employed by a university in Australia.

Applicants who do not meet RSMS requirements for Direct Entry may wish to consider applying for a 457 visa. After working full time for a period of 2 years in the nominated position on a 457 visa the nominee may then apply for employment under the “Temporary Residence Transition Stream” with reduced requirements including a reduced IELTS of 5 and skill level. Please contact DIBP (tel: 131 811) to determine your eligibility for this visa type.

Assessment criteria for the RCB and supporting documentation

RCBs assess applications against the following criteria. Examples of supporting documentation are given as a guide only.

Assessment criteria and supporting documentation

RCBs assess applications against the following criteria.

  • There is a genuine need for the nominator to employ a paid employee to work in the nominated position under the nominator’s direct control
  • The terms and conditions of employment applicable to the nominated position will be no less favourable than the terms and conditions that are provided to, or would be provided to, an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing work in the same workplace in the same location
  • The nominated position can or cannot be filled by an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident who is living in the same local area where the nominated position exits.

Where a business is seeking RCB certification to support their nomination under the RSMS visa program, the following information MUST be submitted to the RCB:

  • Registered name of the nominating business/organisation
  • ABN and ACN of the nominator
  • Contact address of nominating business/organisation
  • Full name and contact details of representative of nominating business/organisation
  • ANZCO code relating to the nominated position
  • Position title for proposed nominee
  • Nominated salary
  • Full name of nominee

Criterion 1. There is a genuine need for the position within the regular business activity of the nominator. Required supporting documentation:

  • A breakdown of the organisational structure (organisational chart) to indicate how the nominated position fits into the business activity
  • An outline of the goods or services produced by the business and how the nominated position contributes to maintaining or enhancing the volume and/or quality of these outputs (this may include detailed and quantifiable plans for future expansion)
  • Evidence that the nominated position is currently occupied by a temporary resident.

Additional supporting documentation may include:

  • Evidence of an increase in business activity (for example, new contacts won)
  • Evidence of additional work being undertaken through overtime (or an increase in overtime) for employees in the nominated position
  • Letter of support from your accountant

If the nominating business is new or is diversifying its activities, you should also include:

  • Business plans, including financial budgets covering expenses and anticipated revenues
  • Budget proposal
  • Evidence that the business has the funds to pay the proposed employee (own funds or bank loans)
  • Evidence of lease or purchase of business equipment or tools
  • Evidence of lease or purchase of business premises

Criterion 2. The terms and conditions offered are no less favourable than the terms and conditions that would be provided to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing equivalent work in the same workplace at the same location. The onus is on the nominator to provide sufficient information to demonstrate this requirement.  The salary to be paid is the market rate not the award rate. Supporting documentation may include:

  • A common law employment contract, or contract for Australian employees in equivalent positions
  • Evidence of salary paid to other employees filling the same or equivalent roles, eg. payslips or payroll records
  • Evidence of salary market rate, e.g. from Fairwork Australia website, Hays Salary Survey or Robert Walters Salary Scale
  • Copies of at least two job vacancy ads including the salary level being offered
  • Enterprise or industrial agreements pertaining to the position

Where there is no equivalent Australian employee:

  • Evidence from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Remuneration surveys
  • Data from unions or employer associations

Criterion 3. That the position cannot be filled locally.   All advertising must occur within six months of application submission to us.  Supporting documentation must include evidence of:

  • Two  insertions of a job advertisement in the Saturday edition of a local commercial newspaper in or near the Local Government Area where the position is offered as per the following prescription:  Northern Star (Lismore, Ballina, Byron, Kyogle and Richmond Valley)  Daily Examiner (Clarence) or Tweed Daily News or Tweed Border Mail (Tweed), within six months preceding the application lodgement (the Echo and Shire News are not acceptable substitutes for print advertising); and
  • The position must be listed with a JobActive Job Service Provider (JSA) for three weeks. Following this period, confirmation must be provided from the JSA detailing the number of clients referred for the position.
  • Online advertising for at least three weeks with JobActive– the free Australian Government careers website. We require a print out of the number of responses to the advertisement obtained from JobActive.  At the end of the 3 week advertising click on the link “applicant tracker” and include this print out with your application to us.  Please read the important instructions regarding listing your vacancy.
  • For positions that require a Bachelor level qualification for courses that are offered at our local University – Southern Cross University(SCU) – please utilise the free web-based vacancy service offered by SCU. You can advertise your opportunities free of charge by registering online and posting your vacancies direct to CareerHub – Employers. Visit the Southern Cross University Careers Hub to find out more about this opportunity, or for further information contact SCU via email careers@scu.edu.au or telephone 02 6620 3220.


Important information regarding using JobActive “Application Tracker”For JobActive advertising, employers should first register online. Next, select the Create a job button and follow the online prompts. Please make sure you use the default listing option for this service (online application lodgement) as this will allow the “Application Tracker” function to be available (ie do not ask for the applications to be sent to a private email or postal address).

At the end of the 3 week advertising period, click on the link “application tracker” and include this print out with your submission to us, as we require a print out of the number of applications received as well as how many times the listing has been viewed.

If you do not use the default setting which allows people to apply online, you will be asked to re-do the full 3 weeks advertising as per these instructions.

Please fill out the Advertising reporting form and include all responses to advertising, qualifications, experience and reasons considered unsuitable for the position.

Evidence of responses to the advertising is required.

This should include a list of applicants who responded (without any personal identification information i.e. ‘Applicant 1′, ‘Applicant 2′, etc.) listing the relevant experience and qualifications of each and including notes as to why they were deemed unsuitable for the position.

The position

The skills and criteria that are considered by RDA-NR when determining if a local employee could fill a vacancy are aligned with the those prescribed by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

Skills or experience beyond those outlined will not be considered necessary to the position.

Example 1:  language skills would only be considered for a position such as Interpreter; ANZSCO 2724-12.

Example 2: Selection criteria for Cook must be in accordance with ANZSCO 2514-11 Task description and skill level (qualifications and experience) If there are applicants for a position to work in a kitchen that caters for a particular cuisine, it is not considered reasonable for an employer to exclude applicants that have the ANZSCO required skills and qualifications just because they do not possess a quality that the employer considers necessary for the position

Employers do have the right to employ whomever they want within their business.  However, if a business wishes to employ someone through the 187 visa scheme, they must adhere to the requirements of this visa.  The 187 visa is designed to provide skilled workers for a vacancy that an employer is unable to fill locally.

Regional bodies, such as RDA-NR are required to provide advice to the Department regarding the availability of local workers for positions under ANZSCO. RDA-NR will therefore determine the availability of local skills based on ANZSCO, considering the required qualifications and experienced as it is stated within the ANZSCO directory. The list of ANZSCO positions and position descriptions, including skills and experience required as well as tasks to be performed can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. 

The Application Process

 Please download and complete Form 1404 (below) on screen, save and email to RDA-NR with your supporting documentation. The Regional Certifying Officer will assess the nomination according to the criteria outlined above and provide a ‘statement of advice’ to the Department as to whether the Minister could be satisfied that the nomination meets the criteria. During assessment we may ask you for additional evidence or supporting documentation, including the full application that was submitted electronically to the Department.

We do not reconsider applications once a decision has been made, as the decision is based on rigorous research and advice. As the Regional Certifying Body, RDA NR will merely provide a ‘statement of advice’ to the Department as to whether the Minister could be satisfied that the nomination meets the criteria. DIBP will make an independent assessment of your application, whilst considering our advice.

In the case of a negative assessment by RDA-NR, you may provide more information to DIBP, in writing, at any time until a decision is made on the application. If you want to correct information you provided, use Form 1023.

Processing Fees

The processing fee is $660.00 (inc GST).  Payment can be made via direct deposit into the RDA Northern Rivers bank account:

BSB: 728 728

Account no: 22314292

Ref: Nominee or business name

Applications will not be processed until payment has been received. 

Processing takes a maximum of three months. We aim to process applications within 4-6 weeks, depending on current demand but this cannot be guaranteed.

What if my nomination doesn’t meet the requirements? If we don’t assess your application as meeting the criteria we will inform you, however no details will be provided. The Department will reach their own decision based on our advice and the applicant will have the opportunity to provide the Department with additional documentation and have the ‘right to review’. Please visit the Department’s Skilled Migration Visa Information webpage to find out current processing times


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105 Molesworth Street
(PO Box 146)
Lismore NSW 2480 [Map]

T +61 02 6622 4011

F +61 02 6621 4609

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