Pacific Engagement Visa: A Pathway to Permanent Residency in Australia for Pacific Islanders

Pacific Engagement Visa

Australia has recently unveiled an innovative permanent resident visa program, the Pacific Engagement Visa, to facilitate the migration of citizens from Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste. As the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported, this groundbreaking initiative introduces a unique lottery system to select eligible participants, allowing them to apply for this visa.

The primary objective of the Pacific Engagement Visa is to bolster the permanent migration flow from the Pacific and Timor-Leste, thereby expanding the existing diaspora within Australia. This initiative is set to enhance the connections between people, foster cultural, business, and educational exchanges, and strengthen bilateral ties.

Pacific Region Islands

Under this program, up to 3,000 individuals from the specified regions can be granted permanent residency annually. The selection process is designed to be inclusive, allowing applicants to participate each year. The lottery, scheduled to commence in 2024, will also consider including the applicants' partners and dependent children.

Eligibility and Application Process

Pacific Engagement Visa Eligibility and Application Form

Eligibility for the visa extends to individuals from various countries, including Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The allocation of the 3,000 visa slots will consider several factors, such as the size of the diaspora in Australia, existing migration pathways, anticipated demand, population sizes of the participating countries, and their respective viewpoints.

To qualify for the visa, applicants must satisfy specific criteria: 

  • They should be aged between 18 and 45 
  • Selected in the ballot 
  • Have a job awaiting them in Australia 
  • Meet English language proficiency standards and fulfil character and health requirements. 

Additionally, they must hold a passport from one of the participating countries and provide birth certificates of themselves or their parents from these countries. A nominal fee of $16 is required for entering the competition.

The lottery is designed to offer a fair and transparent avenue for eligible individuals from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, ensuring equal opportunities to access the program. This includes facilitating the participation of current Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM) workers in Australia.

Benefits of the Pacific Engagement Visa

Distinct from the PALM scheme, primarily focused on temporary employment opportunities in Australia, the Pacific Engagement Visa provides a pathway for permanent residency. While the PALM scheme enables Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to engage in short- to long-term employment in various unskilled and semi-skilled roles, the Pacific Engagement Visa offers a permanent settlement option for up to 3,000 visa holders, including their families, subject to their selection in the electronic ballot process.

Comparing Australia’s PALM and PEV Schemes

Comparing the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme with the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV), we see distinct differences:

  • Purpose: PALM offers job opportunities and addresses labour shortages; PEV aims to enhance ties between Australia and the Pacific.
  • Participating Countries: Both include a range of Pacific nations and Timor-Leste, with PEV encompassing a broader spectrum.
  • Participant Numbers: PALM varies with demand, while PEV is set at 3,000, including families.
  • Application Process: PALM involves a labour agency and employer recruitment, whereas PEV uses an annual ballot and electronic selection.
  • Length of Stay: PALM is for short to long-term work, and PEV is for permanent residency.
  • Visa Type: PALM offers a temporary work visa, and PEV a permanent residency visa.
  • Eligibility: Differences in age requirements, job security, and family situation.
  • Location: PALM focuses on agricultural and regional employment; PEV has no such restrictions.
  • Skill Level: PALM is for unskilled to semi-skilled workers, and PEV is for any skill level.
  • Family/Dependents: PALM generally excludes families. PEV includes them.
  • Benefits: Both offer various benefits, with PEV providing more comprehensive support like Medicare and educational subsidies.

This comprehensive approach reflects Australia's commitment to strengthening its relationship with Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste, offering temporary and permanent pathways for individuals seeking opportunities in Australia.


What are the participating Pacific island countries?

The list of participating countries is subject to change but currently includes Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

How can I apply for the Pacific Engagement Visa?

Applications for the PEV will open in 2024. Register your interest on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for updates and application details.

What are the English language requirements for the PEV?

Applicants must meet the primary English language proficiency requirements set by the Australian.

What are the benefits of obtaining the Pacific Engagement Visa?

The PEV offers several significant benefits to successful applicants, including:

  • Permanent residency: Unlike temporary visas, the PEV grants permanent resident status in Australia, allowing you to live, work, and study indefinitely.
  • Family reunification: Your spouse and dependent children can be included in your visa application, enabling you to migrate together as a family.
  • Access to Medicare and Social Security: PEV holders gain access to Australia's public healthcare system (Medicare) and social security benefits.
  • Pathway to citizenship: After meeting the residency requirements, you can apply for Australian citizenship, granting you full voting rights and other privileges.

How does the PEV differ from the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme?

Both the PEV and PALM programs aim to strengthen Australia's ties with Pacific island countries, but they have distinct purposes and benefits:

  • PEV: Offers a permanent residency pathway for skilled workers with a secured job offer.
  • PALM: Provides temporary work visas for unskilled and semi-skilled workers to address specific labour shortages in regional Australia.


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