491494General Skilled MigrationUncategorized

The new Australian regional visas: Subclass 491 and Subclass 494

By November 28, 2019 No Comments

From 16 November 2019 Australia opened two new regional visa categories to replacing existing visa programs. There is also an expanded definition of “regional areas” to include areas formerly excluded such as Perth and the Gold Coast. You can read more general information about these updates here.

This article provides a useful summary of the eligibility requirements for the visas.

The 491 visa replaces the 489 visa

The 489 invited visa pathway was a points tested, State sponsored regional visa which could eventually lead to permanent residence. It’s replacement, the 491 visa, is largely the same, in that it is a 5 year visa designed to permit individuals to live, work and study in a designated regional area of Australia. It can lead to permanent residence, if eligible, through the Skilled regional (subclass 191) visa which will commence from 16 November 2022.

Eligibility Table

The standard eligibility requirements for the new 491 include that you must:

  1. be nominated by an Australian State or government agency, or by an eligible relative;
  2. lodge an expression of interest through Skill Select and obtain at least 65 points;
  3. if in Australia, hold either a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B or C;
  4. be under the age of 45 at the time you are invited to apply
  5. have a positive skills assessment in the nominated occupation;
  6. have at least competent English (whilst each family member must have at least functional English or pay a second instalment charge);
  7. have an occupation in the eligible skilled occupation list;
  8. meet relevant health and character criteria;
  9. if invited in SkillSelect, apply for a Subclass 491 visa within 60 calendar days from the date of the invitation issued; and
  10. must have a genuine intention to live, work and study in a designated regional area.

What is the occupation list?

For applicants who have obtained State nomination, the occupation list has expanded to include positions in the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Regional Occupation List (ROL). Applicants who obtain family nomination are limited to occupations in the MLTSSL. The full legislative instrument is available here.

What is State nomination?

Each State has its own nomination requirements, though as of writing this article, several  Australian jurisdictions are yet to provide the eligibility requirements for the program:

State

Status

New South Wales

No announcement

Northern Territory

Applications for Subclass 491 Skilled Regional Work and Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visas will reopen on 9 December 2019. A nomination fee will be applied from that date.

Queensland

The Queensland State Nomination Skilled Program has opened today, 25 November 2019 for the Subclass 491 Skilled Regional Work and Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visas. More details here

South Australia

State nomination applications for the Subclass 491 Skilled Regional Work and Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visas will be open first week in December 2019.

Tasmania

All state nominated applications opened on 16 November 2019 including Subclass 491 Skilled Regional Work visas. Applications will incur a $220 fee including GST.

Victoria

Applications for Victorian nomination under the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional visa program opened on 18 November 2019. It is free to lodge a Victorian nomination application.

Western Australia

The Timeline of Transitional Arrangements on the Living in Western Australia website give 21 November 2019 as the start date for the Subclass 489 invitations

What is an eligible relative?

In lieu of State sponsorship, an applicant can be sponsored by an eligible relative. An eligible relative is someone who is:

  1. 18 years or older;
  2. usually resident in a designated regional area of Australia;
  3. an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
  4. and be a following relative:
    1. a parent;
    2. a child or stepchild;
    3. a brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, stepbrother or stepsister;
    4. an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step-aunt or step-uncle;
    5. a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step-nephew or step-niece;
    6. a grandparent; or
    7. a first cousin.

The benefit of having a family relative sponsor is that you do not require State sponsorship. However, be aware that eligible relative sponsorship is limited to occupations on the MLTSSL.

The points test

There are additional factors to the points test, which can include points for studying or seeking to live in an expanded designated regional area (below), points for being single or having an Australian partner, or for studying a STEM subject. For further information about the points test, please refer to here.

Designated regional area

The primary benefit of the new 491 visa is the updated definition of a “designated regional area” which as been expanded to include the below:

State or Territory

Category

Postcodes

New South Wales

Cities and major regional centres

2259, 2264 to 2308, 2500 to 2526, 2528 to 2535 and 2574
Regional centres and other regional areas

2250 to 2258, 2260 to 2263, 2311 to 2490, 2527, 2536 to 2551, 2575 to 2739, 2753 to 2754, 2756 to 2758 and 2773 to 2898

Victoria

Cities and major regional centres

3211 to 3232, 3235, 3240, 3328, 3330 to 3333, 3340 and 3342

Regional centres and other regional areas

3097 to 3099, 3139, 3233 to 3234, 3236 to 3239, 3241 to 3325, 3329, 3334, 3341, 3345 to 3424, 3430 to 3799, 3809 to 3909, 3912 to 3971 and 3978 to 3996

Queensland

Cities and major regional centres

4207 to 4275, 4517 to 4519, 4550 to 4551, 4553 to 4562, 4564 to 4569 and 4571 to 4575

Regional centres and other regional areas

4124 to 4125, 4133, 4183 to 4184, 4280 to 4287, 4306 to 4498, 4507, 4552, 4563, 4570 and 4580 to 4895

Western Australia

Cities and major regional centres

6000 to 6038, 6050 to 6083, 6090 to 6182, 6208 to 6211, 6214 and 6556 to 6558

Regional centres and other regional areas

All postcodes in Western Australia not mentioned in ‘Cities and major regional centres’ category above

South Australia

Cities and major regional centres

5000 to 5171, 5173 to 5174, 5231 to 5235, 5240 to 5252, 5351 and 5950 to 5960

Regional centres and other regional areas

All postcodes in South Australia not mentioned in ‘Cities and major regional centres’ category above

Tasmania

Cities and major regional centres

7000, 7004 to 7026, 7030 to 7109, 7140 to 7151 and 7170 to 7177

Regional centres and other regional areas

All postcodes in Tasmania not mentioned in ‘Cities and major regional centres’ category above

Australian Capital Territory

Cities and major regional centres

All postcodes in the Australian Capital Territory

Regional centres and other regional areas

None

Northern Territory

Cities and major regional centres

None

Regional centres and other regional areasAll postcodes in the Northern Territory

Norfolk Island

Cities and major regional centresNone

Regional centres and other regional areas

All postcodes in Norfolk Island

Other Territories

Cities and major regional c1entres

None

Regional centres and other regional areas

All postcodes in a Territory other than the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory or Norfolk Island

Regional condition

Condition 8579 provides that, while in Australia, Subclass 491 holders must live, work and study only in a part of Australia that was a designated at the time the visa was granted.

494 replaces the 187 visa – Direct Entry Stream

The 187 (Direct Entry) visa used to permit applicants to obtain a direct pathway to permanent residence if among other things, they were willing to work in a position in regional Australia. This program has now been replaced by the 494 visa which 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 is a temporary residence visa valid for up to 5 years, but if an applicant meets all other eligibility criteria, it can lead to permanent residence 3 years after the visa grant.

Eligibility requirements

The standard eligibility requirements for the new 494 visa are as follows:

Nomination requirements

Visa requirements

  1. you are nominated by an approved sponsor;
  2. the position must be in a designated regional area (see above);
  3. the position must be available for at least 2 years;
  4. regional certification is obtained my the appropriate regional certification board which is appropriate for that region (as set out here);
  5. appropriate labour market testing is undertaken for the role
  6. the position will be paid at least the annual market salary rate for the occupation.
  1. you must be under the age of 45 at the time of a visa application (unless an exemption applies);
  2. you have the appropriate skills, qualifications and / or work experience to undertake the nominated position;
  3. have at least 3 years relevant work experience in your nominated occupation
  4. you have a positive skills assessment;
  5. you have competent English;
  6. you meet the health and character requirements;
  7. if you are in Australia, you must hold a substantive visa (or a BVA, BVB or BVC).

Occupation

The list of occupations under the 494 visa program include those on the MLTSSL and the ROL. For the full list, please refer to here.

Regional condition

Condition 8579 provides that, while in Australia, Subclass 494 holders must live, work and study only in a part of Australia that was a designated regional area at the time the relevant nomination in relation to the primary visa holder was made.

Any questions?

If you are an employer seeking to hire staff in “regional areas”, or a foreign national wishing to study or work in such an area, please email our general query inbox at [email protected] or call us on +61 3 9016 0484.

THIS DOCUMENT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. PLEASE CONSULT AN IMMIGRATION PROFESSIONAL FOR UP TO DATE INFORMATION.

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