Subclass 491

Skilled Work Regional Visas

More options are now available for Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens in regional areas to bring their extended relatives to live in Australia.

Australia is growing, and first off she's developing her regional areas. As of November 2019, Australia has opened up 50,000 places dedicated to regional visa applicants. The newly enacted subclass 491 visa  replaces subclass 489 visa (now not accepting new applications).

Subclass 491 is a provisional (temporary) visa that allows skilled individuals who are committed to living and working in regional areas to live and work for up to 5 years, with the option to apply for permanent residence after 3 years. This is especially helpful for people whose occupations were in the short term streams and had no permanent residency pathway available to them previously.

If you are an Australian permanent resident, Australian Citizen or an eligible New Zealand Citizen who is living in a regional area, you may you may be able to sponsor your family if you can be considered to be their "eligible relative".

Read on to find out more about further visa and sponsorship requirements.

What is considered a "regional area" in Australia?

The Department of Home Affairs has released a group of new and wider definitions of regional areas, providing significantly more opportunities to skilled applicants within and outside Australia to seek residence in the country.

It's important to understand what "regional" means. Generally speaking:

  1. In Queensland - everywhere except for Brisbane
  2. In South Australia - everywhere except for Adelaide
  3. In Tasmania - everywhere
  4. In New South Wales - everywhere except for Sydney
  5. In Western Australia - everywhere except for Perth
  6. In the Northern Territories - everywhere
  7. In Victoria - everywhere except for Melbourne

There are two streams under the subclass 491 visa application, which you may be eligible for:

  1. State and Territory Nominated (STN) stream - where you are nominated by a state or a territory OR
  2. Family Sponsored Stream - where you are sponsored by an Australian citizen, Australian PR or eligible New Zealand citizen who are usually resident in the designated regional area and a close relative (e.g. parent, spouse's parent, grandparent, child/stepchild, sibling/step-sibling, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, first cousin)

State and Territory Nominated (STN) stream

Eligibility of the Visa Applicant:

  1. Your occupation is on MLTSSL, STSOL and ROL
  2. You are invited to apply for the visa application and you apply within the stated period as per your invitation letter
  3. You are under 45 years old at the time of invitation, unless you are exempt
  4. You have a full valid skills assessment under your chosen occupation in accordance with ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations), unless you are exempt
  5. You are nominated by a state or territory
  6. You must declare that you and each member of your family unit included as part of the application "has a genuine intention to live, work and study in a designated regional area"

Health Condition

The health criteria applicable is PIC 4005 and is not capable of being waived.

Family Sponsored Stream

Eligibility of the Sponsor:

  1. You have turned 18
  2. You are an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen
  3. You are usually resident in a designated regional area
  4. You are an eligible relative

An "eligible relative" is defined as the following in the legislation:

  • 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

Eligibility of the Visa Applicant:

  1. Your occupation is on the MLTSSL*
  2. You are invited to apply for the visa application and you apply within the stated period as per your invitation letter
  3. You are under 45 years old at the time of invitation, unless you are exempt
  4. You have a full valid skills assessment under your chosen occupation in accordance with ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations), unless you are exempt
  5. You must declare that you and each member of your family unit included as part of the application "has a genuine intention to live, work and study in a designated regional area"

*Please note that some states, such as Tasmania, offer the option of applying for state nomination via family sponsorship. To be considered for this, your sponsor must be an immediate family member who meets all of the following criteria:

  • has been an Australian Permanent Resident or an Australian Citizen for a minimum of 12 months prior to the lodgement of your application
  • is currently residing in Tasmania and has been for a minimum of 12 months
  • is a parent, brother, sister, child, aunt, uncle, or grandparent
  • agrees to support and assist you in the process of gaining employment in Tasmania upon your arrival in Tasmania

In this case, your occupation need not be on the MLTSSL.

Noting: relationships by marriage, such as sister or brother in law, are not acceptable for this category. You (the applicant) must hold the direct relationship with the sponsoring family member


Health Condition

The health criteria applicable is PIC 4005 and is not capable of being waived.

Some advantages of pursuing a subclass 491 visa worth considering

  1. You receive additional 15 points when you are invited by the state or territory of your choice in your points test.
  2. You do not require employer sponsorship to apply.
  3. You (and your dependents) are eligible to apply for Medicare.
  4. You are entitled to social security payments when you are a holder of the subclass 491 visa.
  5. While holding the visa, you may move between regional areas all across Australia.

Other advantages of living in a regional area

  1. Housing is much more affordable across the board. You will likely enjoy lower rent and greater availability of cost effective accommodation than if you lived in a similar type of property in the inner city.
  2. Beautiful natural landscapes and fresher air.
  3. Lower population density also means less pollution all around.

Some disadvantages of pursuing a subclass 491 visa worth considering

  1. You will need a skills assessment that is less than 3 years old from the date of receiving the invitation to apply for the visa. Skills assessments usually take time (anywhere between 1 to 6 months) to obtain and prepare for. This means that if you are thinking of looking into a subclass 491 visa, it is critical to start preparing early.
  2. You will not be able to apply for an Australian permanent partner or skilled visa under the employer-sponsored or non-regional independent skilled programs within the first 3 years of holding this subclass 491 visa.

Further advantages if you do not have an Australian family sponsor and have to choose the state nomination pathway:

  1. The states/territories require a full-time job offer in order to extend an invitation.
  2. Many states/territories require that your occupation be on the occupation list prior to accepting your application for state nomination.
  3. It is the author's opinion that this pathway is not designed to encourage skilled individuals to bring their entire families with them, especially if your partner is not considered to be a skilled individual. This is because in this scenario, you will not receive as many "partner points" as compared to someone who is in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or someone who is single.

Other disadvantages of living in a regional area

  1. You may have access to a less variety of goods and services as compared to in the cities.
  2. It may take you a longer time to assimilate into the local communities.
  3. There may be less flexibility in moving to better work within the same regional community

Further Updates - State Occupation Lists

New South Wales

NSW Treasury will begin accepting nominations for the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa - Subclass 491) for a limited time.

Applications will open on Monday 15 June 2020 and applications will cease to be accepted at 5pm on Tuesday, 23 June 2020.

Applications will be assessed by the end of the financial year, Tuesday 30 June 2020.

Update 15 June 2020: There has been an update to the nomination criteria, in that there is only a requirement for some proof of regional NSW residence, with no prescribed minimum period.

South Australia

Update on 27 March 2020:

To support the State Government’s response to COVID-19, Immigration SA is implementing changes which prioritise the processing and nomination of health and medical professionals.

Reduced work experience requirements for medical and health professionals working in South Australia

International graduates of South Australia - medical and health professionals

Medical and health professionals listed here who have graduated from a South Australian higher education provider and currently reside and work in South Australia in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 40 hours per fortnight), are exempt from the three-month work experience requirement. Applicants accessing the work experience exemption will only be eligible for nomination for a provisional 491 visa. New requirements apply to 190 nomination eligibility – see below. Applicants currently working as a medical or health professional in South Australia Medical and health professionals listed here who currently reside and work in South Australia in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 20 hours per week) are exempt from Immigration SA’s current work experience requirements. Applicants accessing the work experience exemption are only eligible for a provisional 491 visa nomination. Please note the 5 year work experience requirement has been removed for Registered Nurses working in their occupation or closely related occupation in South Australia. For medical and health professionals who are currently working in their nominated or closely related occupation in South Australia, a minimum of 65 points is required, including state-nomination points, and competent English. 190 nomination eligibility – medical and health professionals Medical and health professionals listed here who are currently working for the last 12 months in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 20 hours per week) in South Australia (or the last 6 months in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 20 hours per week) in a country region of South Australia) remain eligible for a permanent 190 visa.

Priority processing for medical and health professionals working in South Australia

Processing times for state nomination vary depending on the volume of applications received and applications from medical and health professionals will be prioritised in the first instance. If your current visa is within 2 weeks of expiration, and if you have not requested priority processing of your application, please lodge an online enquiry to Immigration SA as per the standard process.

Changes to requirements for 190 visa subclass nomination

Immigration SA is closing visa subclass 190 eligibility for applicants who are not currently working in South Australia for the last 12 months (or 6 months in a region). Only applicants currently working for the last 12 months in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 20 hours per week) in South Australia or the last 6 months in their nominated or closely related occupation (minimum 20 hours per week) in a country region (of South Australia) will be eligible to apply for permanent 190 visa nomination. If you do not meet these requirements, you are only eligible to apply for 491 visa nomination. This applies to all occupations except for the following:

  • 132211 Finance Manager
  • 149914 Financial Institution Branch Manager
  • 221111 Accountant (General)
  • 221112 Management Accountant
  • 221113 Taxation Accountant
  • 221211 Company Secretary
  • 221213 External Auditor
  • 221214 Internal Auditor
  • 222112 Finance Broker
  • 222311 Financial Investment Adviser
  • 222312 Financial Investment Manager
  • 224711 Management Consultant

These occupations are no longer eligible for a subclass 190 nomination as they have reached their quota. Applicants for these occupations can still apply for nomination for the provisional 491 visa subclass.

Occupations closed to offshore applicants

The following hospitality occupations are now closed for offshore applicants.

  • 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager
  • 351311 Chef
  • 351411 Cook

The changes listed in this news item are effective immediately for state nomination applications submitted to Immigration SA on or after 12pm on 27 March 2020. If you currently have a saved state nomination application that has not yet been submitted to Immigration SA, you will need to meet the requirements above relevant to your nominated occupation or visa subclass. Immigration SA is aware that the COVID-19 situation and the impact of the travel ban is presenting challenges for some applicants and current visa holders who may be required to lodge from offshore, or are currently overseas and are unable to return to South Australia.

Queensland

Update on 24 April 2020:

  • BSMQ has opened OFFSHORE processing for subclass 491 for selected medical professionals.
  • Queensland Skilled Occupation List for Offshore Applicants
  • Applicants who receive an offshore grant for a subclass 491 are not guaranteed entry to Australia as our borders are currently closed to temporary visa holders.
  • Applicants would need to apply for an exemption to enter Australia
  • It is at the discretion of the Department of Home Affairs to determine a travel exemption and BSMQ is not able to be involved in this process.
  • BSMQ remains open to nominations for ONSHORE subclass 491 applicants who continue to meet Queensland state nomination criteria.
  • Subclass 190 and all business visas (subclass 188 and 132) have met nomination allocation for FY 2019-20.
  • New quota is likely to be received in July 2020 and applicants will be required to submit a new EOI for Queensland State Nominated visas (subclass 190, 188, 132) at this time.

Update on 07 September 2020:

Victoria’s 2020-21 Victorian skilled visa nomination program (subclass 190 and 491) will reopen on Tuesday 8 September, 2020.

Victoria only has a very limited number of visa nomination places available until after the Federal Budget is delivered on 6 October 2020, Victoria will initially run a shorter and more targeted interim skilled visa nomination program (subclass 190 and 491) until 5 October 2020.

For this interim period, they will only select applicants to apply for Victorian visa nomination if applicants' Registration of Interest demonstrates they are working in health or medical research and contributing to Victoria’s economic recovery and/or health response.

Update on 12 March 2020:

The occupations of Marketing Specialist ANZSCO 225113, and Finance Manager ANZSCO 132211 have now reached invitation quota on 12 March 2020, and have been removed from QSOL.

Occupations removed from QSOL 12 March 2020

Onshore, (includes Queensland Postgraduate (Alumni)) and Offshore

• Marketing Specialist ANZSCO 225113

Onshore

• Finance Manager ANZSCO 132211

Occupations removed from QSOL 25 November 2019

Onshore and Offshore -IT

•ICT Business Analyst ANZSCO 261111

•Systems Analyst ANZSCO 261112

•Developer Programmer ANZSCO 261312

•Software Engineer ANZSCO 261313

•Software and Applications Programmers nec ANZSCO 261399

•ICT Security Specialist ANZSCO 262112

•Computer Network and Systems Engineer ANZSCO 263111

•Analyst Programmer ANZSCO 261311

Onshore –Accounting

•Accountant (General) ANZSCO 221111

•Management Accountant ANZSCO 221112

•Taxation Accountant ANZSCO 221113

•External Auditor ANZSCO 221213

•Internal Auditor ANZSCO 221214

Offshore -Engineering

•Civil Engineer ANZSCO 233211

•Mechanical Engineer ANZSCO 233512

•Electrical Engineer ANZSCO 233311

•Engineering Technologist ANZSCO 233914

Northern Territory

Due to the covid-19 travel ban, offshore applications for general skilled migration program have been closed starting from Tuesday 24 March 2020 until further notice**.**

Victoria

Update on 01 May 2020:

Due to the covid-19 travel ban, as of 18 March 2020, Victoria has closed off its applications for offshore subclass 491 visa applicants until further notice.

Update on 28 May 2020:

Victoria's skilled visa nomination program is now closed as we have filled the places provided to us by the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs for the 2019-20 program year.

This includes both the Skilled Nominated (Permanent) visa (subclass 190) and the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491).

Tasmania

Update on 20 March 2020:

As of 20 March 2020, applications for subclass 491 visas are temporarily restricted until further notice to occupations listed in the ‘High Demand’ section of the Tasmanian Skilled Occupation List (TSOL).

To clarify or plan ahead for your permanent residency, seek professional advice now with a registered migration agent.

At Kin Migration, we are centred on providing timely and tailored support. Book your Strategy Session for:

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