New Skilled Regional Visas (Subclass 491 and 494)

Date: 15/11/2019

The Government has recently announced the new regional visas to attract more migrants to live and work in low populated areas.

Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa

Subclass 491 replaces the Subclass 489 visa from 16 November 2019 and will offer both State/Territory and Family sponsored pathways. Subclass 491 is a point-tested visa.

Key eligibility requirements:

  • nominated by either a State or Territory; 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 EOI
  • Must have at least competent English
  • Under 45 years of age
  • Minimum 65 points (including 15 for the sponsorship)

Key features of the 491 visa:

  • 5 years duration
  • Visa holders may live in any regional area
  • Cannot apply for any other skilled PR or 820 partner visa for 3 years
  • Eligible for Medicare

Visa conditions on 491 visa:

  • All visa holders (family members) must live, work or study in regional area only
  • Any reportable change must be updated to DHA within 14 days
  • Must provide evidence or attend interview with DHA, if requested

Failure to non-compliance may lead to visa cancellation or loss of pathway to a PR visa.

Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa

Subclass 494 visa replaces the RSMS (Subclass 187) visa which used to be a permanent visa and is more like a regional version of Subclass 482 visa, with few differences.

Subclass 494 visa requires a regional employer (an approved sponsor) to nominate applicants for this visa.

Key eligibility requirements:

  • Nominated by a regional employer (an approved sponsor)
  • Nominated occupation must be on the relevant list
  • Minimum 3 years’ work experience in nominated occupation
  • Positive skills assessment at the time of application
  • Under 45 years of age
  • Competent English

Some features of the 494 visa:

  • 5 years duration
  • Eligible for Medicare
  • PR pathway via Subclass 191

Visa conditions on 494 visa:

  • All visa holders (family members) must live, work or study in regional area only
  • Any reportable change must be updated to DHA within 14 days
  • Must provide evidence or attend interview with DHA, if requested
  • Must work for the nominating employer and in the nominated occupation (same as Subclass 482)

Government has also increased the total number of regional visas to be granted to 25,000 (from 23,000 previously)

Subclass 191 – Pathway to Permanent Residency for 491 and 494 visa holders

491 and 494 visa holders will be eligible for the Permanent Residency via Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa after earning a minimum taxable annual income of $53,900 for 3 years while working and living in a regional area.

They must also comply with other visa conditions as imposed on their 491 or 494 visas.

Subclass 191 will commence from 16 November 2022 (3 years from the start of 491 and 494 visas) and won’t be point-tested.

GSM points test amended

From 16 November 2019, the amended GSM points test will give additional points to Skilled visa applicants:

  • 15 points for applicants nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia
  • 10 points for having certain STEM qualifications
  • 10 points for applicants who do not have a spouse or de facto partner
  • 10 points for having a skilled spouse or de facto partner
  • 5 points for applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who has Competent English

Learn more about the benefits of regional areas here.

Interested to know more? Click here to book a free call with one of our friendly consultants. You may also fill out the Online Assessment Form for a free assessment to know your eligibility for a visa to Australia.

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