Photo: Aust Govt

Pacific Island and Timor-Leste nationals will be able to register for Australia’s new Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) programme from 03 June 2024, providing new opportunities for Pacific and Timorese nationals to live, work and study in Australia.

The programme will enable up to 3,000 citizens of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to migrate to Australia as permanent residents each year.

This will grow Australia’s diaspora, deepen cultural connections, boost business, and educational ties between Australia and participating countries and support economic development in the Pacific.

Countries participating in the first year of the programme include Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, with discussions ongoing with other partners in the region.

The PEV programme will use an online ballot to select participants, who can then apply for the visa, providing an equitable, streamlined and transparent system.

Applicants must secure a formal ongoing job offer in Australia and meet health and character requirements, before being granted a visa.

The PEV responds directly to Pacific requests for greater regional mobility, delivering education, skills and economic and development dividends for the region, and linking us more closely together.

Pacific and Timorese nationals participating in the program will have access to a range of supports, including migrant settlement services, English language programmes, public schools and healthcare, and financial supports to encourage participation in study and training.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong said: “The Albanese Government is delivering on our commitment to deepen our connections with the Pacific and Timor-Leste with the commencement of the Pacific Engagement Visa.

“Australia has listened to the calls of Pacific leaders and responded, as we play our part for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pacific.”

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy said: “The Pacific Engagement Visa demonstrates the high value Australia places on its relationship with the Pacific and Timor-Leste.”

“The programme will grow Pacific and Timor-Leste diasporas in Australia, strengthening linkages between our people and encouraging greater cultural, business, economic and educational exchange with Pacific countries.”

“The programme has transformative potential, making Australia’s world-class education and training system more accessible for new residents under the Pacific Engagement Visa.”

“Through these impacts, and by boosting remittance flows to Pacific countries, the program will also support economic development and welfare in the Pacific.”

Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles said: “The Pacific Engagement Visa programme is an opportunity to address the under-representation of Pacific island and Timorese nationals in Australia’s permanent migration programme with less than one percent of permanent migrants currently coming from the region.”

“The programme is in keeping with the Government’s Migration Strategy which identifies deepening Australia’s people-to-people links with the Indo-Pacific as one of eight key actions to reform the migration system, said Giles.