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Regional visa (491,494)

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491 VISA (SKILLED WORK REGIONAL VISA)
– PROVISIONAL

The new 491 visa, Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa will enable eligible skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in designated regional areas of Australia for 5 years. Visa holders will be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence visa after three years. Applicants for this visa must be nominated by:

 an Australian state or territory government agency or 

Sponsored by an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area and be invited to apply for the visa, following submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect. 

Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa will replace the current 489 visa and commences November 16, 2019. The 491 visa is a skilled and a points tested visa . It has a 45 year age limit and requires a positive skills assessment. 

The visa validity period is 5 years. Conditions, namely 8579 will be imposed which will enforce the government’s intentions that visa holders live, work and study only in regional areas. Visa holders may move between regional areas. Regional areas are defined as any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Important change: Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional areas. You may work in any occupation and for any employer in line with the work and residence conditions attached to your visa. 

Holders of the new provisional visas will also be unable to apply for most other skills based visas in Australia unless they have completed at least three years in a designated regional area, unless exceptional circumstances exist. Additionally, similar to current arrangements for the subclass 457 and 482 visa program, holders of the new provisional visas can be negatively impacted by sponsor non-compliance.

The new 491 visa permanent pathway will be: 

Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional): To meet the requirements of the permanent visa (from November 2022) applicants must have held a subclass 491 or 494 visa for at least 3 years, have complied with the conditions on that visa and have met minimum taxable income requirements. You must show earnings of at least $53,900 per annum for three years. Your partner can also be the main applicant for the 191 visa if they can demonstrate this criteria. 

Effect on current 489 visa to 887 visa pathway: 

The Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489) is now closed to new applicants. Transitional arrangements are put in place for applications which have been lodged and are undecided, as well as applicants whose pathway currently targets the permanent Skilled Regional Visa (subclass 887). 

Skilled Migration Changes: 

The skilled migration points test will change from November 16, 2019. The changes will affect subclass 491 applicants as well as applications for other skilled migration visas that have not been assessed at that time (but only in a way that is beneficial for applicants, by providing additional points). Other points for age, qualifications, overseas and Australian work experience, Australian study and English points will apply. The new points details are: 

15 points for nomination by a State or Territory government agency or sponsorship by a family member residing in regional Australia, to live and work in regional Australia;

 10 points for certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications;

Partner Points

10 points, if one of the following apply:

skilled spouse or de facto partner (Skills assessment and Competent English); or

applicants without a spouse or de facto partner (single) or

5 points:  if your partner has Competent English. Your partner can be over 45 years of age and does not need a Skills Assessment.

TSS vs 491 vs 494 visa

Summary of the 491 visa:

15,000 places allocated each year

be on the 491 occupations list

Replaces 489 family and state sponsored visas

Must be sponsored by an eligible relative or state authority

Points tested

Visa will be granted for initially 5 years

Must live and work for 3 years in regional areas to get Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) 191 Visa

You or your partner will need to earn for those 3 years a minimum income each year ($53,900 per annum)- for the State sponsored stream it may be in any occupation however if employer sponsored it must be in the nominated occupation.

Regional Australia is everywhere except Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

You may move between regions- Regional areas include Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Lake Macquarie, Illawarra, Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.

Cannot apply for any other skilled PR or 820 partner visa for 3 years DHA Fee (main applicant) $4,045 and for spouse is: $2,025

Benefits of the 491 visa:

Priority processing of regional applications Incentives for migrants to stay in regional areas longer term as they build ties through workforce and community participation More points available to subclass 491 visa applicants

Ranking systems for an invitation to apply for a 491 visa

1.First: Applicant with a skilled partner OR applicants without a partner 2.Second: Applicant with a partner who can demonstrate Competent English (but does not have the skills for skilled partner points) 3.Third: Applicant with a partner who is ineligible for either competent English or Skilled partner points.

Nomination by an Australian state or
territory government agency

If you are nominated for the visa, we will invite you to apply. All state and territory government agencies have their own criteria for deciding who they will nominate. Each state has its own requirements: 

New South  Wales 

Northern Territory 

Queensland 

South Australia 

Tasmania 

Victoria 

Western Australia

Sponsorship by an eligible relative
(Family stream)

Please note that for the 491 family stream your occupation must be on the MLTSSL list. Your sponsor must be: 

18 years old or older

 usually resident in a designated area of Australia 

be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen 

be your or your partner’s eligible relative 

An eligible relative can be: 

a parent a child or step-child

 a brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, step-brother or step-sister 

an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step-aunt 

or step-uncle a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step-nephew 

or step-niece a grandparent, 

or a first cousin

 Sponsorship must be approved before you can be granted a visa.

Do the sponsor and the applicant need to reside
in the same State/Territory?

There is no requirement in policy or the regulations that the sponsor and applicant must live in the same regional area, however, the sponsor must continue to meet all the sponsorship requirements that they have agreed to, regardless of where they are each living.”

Have a suitable skills assessment

For your application to be valid, you must declare that you have a suitable skills assessment at time of invitation. You will need to provide a copy of this skills assessment with your application. For medical and legal practitioners, we also accept the following as proof of a skills assessment: 

full or unconditional or general medical registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency 

conditional specialist registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. This only allows you to practise in your speciality. You need no further training or supervision 

admission to practice law in the relevant state or territory 

Your skills assessment must have been obtained in the 3 years before the date of your invitation. If the assessment was for a shorter period, that period must not have passed. If your skills were assessed on the basis of a qualification you got in Australia when you held a student visa, the qualification must be from studying a course registered on CRICOS

SUBCLASS 494 SKILLED EMPLOYER
SPONSORED (REGIONAL)

Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored (Regional) visa enables regional employers to address identified labour shortages within their region by sponsoring skilled workers where employers can’t source an appropriately skilled Australian worker.

The 494 visa replaced the 187 (RSMS) visa and commenced November 16, 2019. The 494 visa has 10,000 places allocated per year. It requires employer sponsorship from a regional employer and the position must be likely to exist for 5 years. It has a 45 year age limit (exemptions apply), competent English, RCB advice and must meet the AMSR. Visa applicants must have a suitable skills assessment and at least 3 years’ skilled employment.

The visa validity period is 5 years. Conditions will be imposed which will enforce the government’s intentions that visa holders live, work and study only in regional areas (condition 8579) and only in the nominated position. Visa holders must commence work within 90 days of the visa being granted and must only work in your nominated occupation and only work for the nominating employer in regional Australia. If you do not, your visa may be cancelled. 

Regional areas are defined as any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Important change: Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional areas.  

Holders of the new provisional visas will also be unable to apply for most other skills based visas in Australia unless they have completed at least three years in a designated regional area, unless exceptional circumstances exist. Additionally, similar to current arrangements for the subclass 457 and 482 visa program, holders of the new provisional visas can be negatively impacted by sponsor non-compliance. 

The permanent visa pathway is: 

Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional): To meet the requirements of the permanent visa (from November 2022) applicants must have held a subclass 491 or 494 visa for at least 3 years, have complied with the conditions on that visa and have met minimum taxable income requirements. You must show earnings of at least $53,900 per annum for three years. Your partner can also be the main applicant for the 191 visa if they can demonstrate this criteria.

Effect on current 187 RSMS regional visa:

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa (subclass 187) will close to new applicants from November 16, 2019. Transitional arrangements will be put in place for applicants who have lodged both the Nomination and Visa and are undecided at that time.

494 visa requirements (visa applicant):

Age under 45 at time of application (exemptions apply) 

Competent English at time of application 

You must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least 3 years on a full-time basis and at the skill level required for the nominated occupation. Generally, you should have gained your experience within the last 5 years. The period does not need to be continuous. Equivalent part-time work may be considered. DHA does not consider casual work. 

GTE requirement does not apply 

If in Australia, hold a substantive or Bridging Visa A, B or C 

Successful skills assessment at time of application 

Doctor registration requirement does not apply 

DoHA Fee (main applicant) $4,045 and for spouse: $2,025, children under 18 : $1010 

Second VAC: $4890 if adult applicant does not meet Functional English

494 Employer and job offer requirements:

Employer must be located in a designated regional Australia, everywhere except Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Regional areas include Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Lake Macquarie, Illawarra, Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.

Position be on the list of eligible occupations

Position must be full time and likely be available for 5 years

employer will need approval from the Regional Certifying Body (RCB)

Employer must pay the Australian Market Salary Rate (AMSR)

Benefits of the 494 visa:

Can apply for permanent residence without a second nomination stage, if eligible, through the subclass 191 visa (commences 16 November 2022)

Lower cost to employers with only one SAF levy stage for the subclass 494 nomination (compared to the two stages for the current subclass 482 to ENS subclass 186 permanent resident pathway)

Conditions and pathway to PR:

Must live and work for 3 years on the 494 visa in regional areas to get Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) 191 Visa

Can move between jobs but will have 90 days to find a new nominator

Cannot apply for any other skilled PR or 820 partner visa for 3 years

Eligible for Medicare on 494 visa – Health insurance not required

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