The Australian government has launched its new visa scheme aimed at luring more migrants to rural areas.
According to the rules of new regional visas launched recently, migrants to Australia must spend at least three years living in regional Australia before they can apply for permanent residency.
But it opens to the door for overseas workers from a wider range of occupations than before, with jobs including real estate agents, actors, historians and call center managers added to the eligible list.
The government is hopeful that the new scheme will boost population growth in regions where it has stagnated while relieving significant population pressures in major cities.
"By requiring migrants to live and work in regional areas for three years before they can get permanent residency, we are encouraging them to put down roots and settle in these areas long term," David Coleman, the minister for immigration, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.
"That is what our smaller cities and regional communities need."
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in March, 79 per cent of Australia's population growth in 2017-18 occurred in capital cities.
James Raymer from Australian National University (ANU) said that migrants have a "very low chance" of remaining in a regional or remote area beyond the required years.
"Most migrants will leave within a five-year period - over half, if not 70 per cent - and if they're going to stay in Australia they're going to go to one of the big cities, probably Sydney or Melbourne," Raymer, who has analyzed 40 years of immigration data, said.
"What we actually see in the data, the chances of them leaving remote and regional areas has been increasing for a lot of the newer migrant groups."