People connections in the Pacific
Pacific Engagement Visa
The Pacific Engagement Visa will increase permanent migration from the Pacific and Timor-Leste, growing the diaspora in Australia, strengthening people-to-people links, and encouraging greater cultural, business and educational exchange.
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 Pacific Engagement Visa is being designed in close consultation with partner governments and Pacific and Timor-Leste communities to ensure the program delivers on shared needs and objectives, and contributes to a peaceful, prosperous, and resilient Pacific family.
Applications for the ballot will be able to be lodged online with the Department of Home Affairs once the ballot opens.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When will the Pacific Engagement Visa ballot commence?
The ballot is expected to commence in 2024, once all remaining legislative and administrative arrangements for the visa are in place and Pacific governments and Timor-Leste have had time to consider the final arrangements.
Please continue to check this webpage for official updates from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
What is the Pacific Engagement Visa?
The Pacific Engagement Visa will be a new permanent resident visa for participating countries across the Pacific and Timor-Leste.
Up to 3,000 visas, inclusive of partners and dependent children, will be allocated annually to Pacific and Timor-Leste nationals through a ballot process.
The Pacific Engagement Visa will grow the Pacific and Timor-Leste diaspora in Australia, build on our strong people‑to‑people links, and encourage greater cultural, business and educational exchange.
Which countries will be involved?
Priority is being given to countries with limited permanent migration opportunities to Australia, and countries without citizenship rights with New Zealand, France and the United States.
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.
The Australian Government continues to consult Pacific countries and Timor-Leste on their interest in participating in the program.
How will country allocations be determined?
Visa allocations will be based on several factors including population size, diaspora in Australia, existing migration opportunities, expected demand and participating country views.
The Government is consulting further with Pacific partners on their inclusion and country allocations to ensure the program is delivering on shared needs and objectives.
Who will be eligible for the Pacific Engagement Visa?
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.
Further program settings and details, including ballot and visa eligibility requirements will be made available closer to the commencement of the program.
What is the Pacific Engagement Visa ballot?
The ballot is an electronic random selection process, with those drawn from the ballot then able to apply for a Pacific Engagement Visa. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they meet all relevant criteria before being granted a visa.
The ballot aims to provide eligible individuals from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste fair and transparent access to the program by randomly selecting ballot participants. This includes providing access to the ballot for existing Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme (PALM) workers in Australia.
What is the cost to enter the Pacific Engagement Visa ballot?
The charge for entering the ballot is expected to be $25.
If the registered person is not selected, a new registration will need to be submitted for participants to enter the next ballot.
Applicants selected through the ballot will be able to apply for the visa within a specified timeframe. This will require paying the associated visa application charge.
Will visa holders be able to live and work anywhere in Australia?
Yes. This visa is a permanent resident visa and therefore applicants will be free to choose where they live, work and study in Australia. There are no restrictions on work location, industry/type of work or employer.
What settlement support will be available?
The Pacific Engagement Visa program will include measures to support a positive settlement experience.
Supports include help to find work in Australia and access to a range of benefits to assist with the cost of raising a family and ease the financial burden of education and training.
Eligible Pacific Engagement Visa holders will have access on arrival to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), VET student loans (VSL), Youth Allowance (Student), Youth Allowance (Apprentice), and Family Tax Benefit Part A. This is in addition to the supports and benefits available to permanent residents upon arrival in Australia, including access to Medicare and public schools.
All Pacific Engagement Visa holders will also have access to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program which provides settlement-related information, advice, advocacy and assistance to access relevant services.
How will participants be supported to find employment and prepare for life in Australia?
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.
The resource will also guide successful applicants through the visa application process, deliver culturally and language relevant program outreach, and inform applicants about life in Australia.
How is the Pacific Engagement Visa different to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme?
The Pacific Engagement Visa will complement the PALM scheme by offering a permanent resident visa to citizens of Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste. The Pacific Engagement Visa is not a labour mobility program; it is designed to grow the diaspora in Australia with ongoing connections to their home countries.
By comparison, the PALM scheme is a temporary migration program that will continue to help meet workforce shortages in rural and regional Australia, support the economic development of Pacific countries, and build skills for when workers return home.
PALM scheme workers in Australia on valid temporary visas will be eligible to register for the Pacific Engagement Visa ballot when applications open.