491 Visa - Australian (Skilled Worker Regional) Provisional - Questions and Answers
What areas are regional for the 491 visa?
The regional areas for the 491 visa are all of Australia excluding Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
This is assessed by the government on a postcode by postcode basis. You can find the full list of postcodes (and not-acceptable) postcodes here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skill-occupation-list/regional-postcodes
Do I need to be living in a regional area to apply for the 491 (state-sponsored stream) visa?
491 (state-sponsored stream) visas can be applied for by applicants who are offshore. As such, there is no blanket requirement for applicants to be in the regional area already.
To obtain state nomination, some states will require (sometimes only for particular lists of occupations) that the applicant has lived, worked or otherwise for a certain period of time.
However, the consequence of providing incorrect information on a visa application may be that the visa may be cancelled under section 109 of the Act.
For the 491 visa, South Australia (SA) requires you to sign a declaration that you 'intend' to settle in 'SA', what would happen if you didn't settle in 'SA' and went straight to a different regional area in another state as you got a better job offer. Is it legally binding and can they revoke your visa if you do not settle in 'SA'?
When preparing a visa application it is important to provide truthful information to both the State/Territory and Federal Governments (Department of Home Affairs DoHA).
There are powers which mean that the DoHA can deny your application if there is reason to believe you have provided false information.
There are also powers under the Migration Act including s109 to cancel visas, if false or fraudulent information has been given as part of an application.
The 491 conditions will mean that you need to live in a regional area but it doesn't have to be the same state, necessarily. However, that is not the only factor to consider. The DoHA can consider if there has been any false or misleading information provided as part of the application, and make a refusal or cancellation based on that. There is quite a difference between trying to find work in the regional area that you committed to and then after some time, if not successful, shifting to another area, and in never intending to go to the area and in never going there at all. This is quite a sensitive question and with refusal and cancellation powers to be considered, there are potential severe negative consequences.
Do I need a skills assessment for the 491 visa?
All 491 visa applications require a skills assessment.
With the number of skills assessment programs and bodies currently available, it is important that you ensure you obtain the correct skills assessment for your occupation and for the application you are pursuing. Notably, a provisional skills assessment, such as would be provided for a 485 visa, is not suitable for a 491 visa application.
What if I get an Australian bachelor degree online, would it still count as an Australian degree?
Unfortunately Online degrees are not recognised as an Australian degree for most migration purposes, such as the "Australian Study Requirement" in Reg 1.15F.
Do I need a skills assessment if I completed my relevant qualification in Australia?
A skills assessment is always required for the 491 visa, regardless of where you obtained your qualification from.
In saying this, certain skills assessment bodies, for example: the Australian Dental Council, have a different process for those who have obtained an Australian qualification.
One other benefit is that you may be able to access points for the Australian study requirement, to help you meet the minimum 65 points.
Where can I check if my occupation is listed for a skillsselect nomination?
A very useful tool provided by the government to check which occupations are listed for which visas is available here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skill-occupation-list
for some occupations, such as General Practitioners registration is regarded as a skills assessment. But for other occupations registration is not enough eg. Nurses need to complement further Australian industry registration assessments through AMPPA and ANMRAC.
How many years of work experience is required for a 491 Visa?
There is no fixed number of years required to be eligible for a subclass 491 visa.
Years of work experience are relevant to:
- Skills assessment requirements
- Number of points for the Australian work experience and overseas work experience components of the points test (you need a minimum of 65 points)
How do I verify what level of English I have?
We have a simple summary of the different English language ability levels here: https://www.workvisalawyers.com.au/resources/english-requirements/101-english-requirements.html
For the points test, it is largely a question of what the minimum score you received is.
It is usually a good idea to undertake an English test of your preference, to determine a benchmark for your ability. From there, you can work on improving your score if needed to reach the level required for your application.
What English score do I need for a 491 visa?
The minimum English for primary 491 visa applicants is “competent English”. This is IELTS 6.0 or higher in each of the four categories, or equivalent scores in another accepted test such as Pearson (PTE) Academic) This is at least 50 in all 4 components.
To meet the minimum points requirement of 65, you may need a higher level of English (proficient or superior). A high English score can give you up to 20 points in the points test.
What are the social benefits of applying for a 491 visa apart from medicare. Does it include schooling for kids?Yes, similar to the 489 visa, may be able to be enrolled as a local student, depending on the rules in the relevant state.
For example in South Australia the process to access local education. All you will need to do once you arrive and have found accommodation is approach the government school nearest this address,
show them a copy of your accommodation documentation, your visa documentation, your children's and your passports and any school reports for the children from your home country (if applicable)
and then enrol them. The school will make recommendations on the most suitable year levels for your children based on their ages and education history.
If the school feels they will need English language support and they do not offer it at their school, or they do not have room to accommodate the children in the school,
then they will advise you of the name of the school the children can attend and the same processes then apply.
Once they are enrolled you will be required to pay the local school fees which can range depending on the school and year level.
Does the sponsoring family member need to be in the same state as you intend to live in? (491 family-sponsored stream)
There is no requirement that you live in the same designated regional area as your eligible relative sponsor.
As the holder of a 491 (family-sponsored stream) visa, you are permitted to reside in the designated regional area of your choosing.
I have relatives in Australia that hold Permanent Residency. Will this help my application?
This can factor separately into the two different streams of the 491 visa:
- Family-sponsored stream
- State-sponsored stream
An Australian permanent resident family member can sponsor you under the family-sponsored stream if they are:
- 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
Your relatives in Australia may be useful for a state-sponsored stream 491 in certain circumstances. Some occupations in some states require “chain nomination” in order to be eligible for state nomination.
For example, in South Australia, your “grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, brother or sister” who has lived in South Australia for 24 months or more can help you to obtain state nomination (if your occupation .
How healthy do I need to be?
For the 491 visa, you need to satisfy the standard health requirement, Public Interest Criteria 4005.
You can read our article on the health requirement here: https://www.workvisalawyers.com.au/resources/health-requirements/102-health-requirements.html
What happens if I do not disclose past criminal activity?
Hiding your criminal record will not help you to meet the character requirements.
Failing to disclose such information can be considered providing false and misleading information, which can lead to a refusal and a three year ban on applying for some visas under Public Interest Criteria 4020.
What processing time can I expect for a 491 Visa?
You can always check the latest of the Department’s processing times here: https://www.border.gov.au/about/access-accountability/service-standards/global-visa-citizenship-processing-times
At the time of publishing this article, the Department has not yet published any time frames for processing applications. This is due to the program being in its early stages and insufficient data being available to give a reasonable measure for processing times.
Anecdotally, we understand that in the early stages of this program, applications are being processed quite quickly, around 1 - 2 months. At the time of publishing this article (February, 2020).
How much does a 491 visa cost?
The current application charges for a 491 visa are:
|Best application charge||$4,045|
|Secondary applicant over 18 application charge (such as your spouse or dependent adult children under 23)||$2,025|
|Secondary applicant under 18 charge||$1,010|
Application charges are adjusted at the beginning of each financial year and tend to increase by a modest amount each time.
States charge varying amounts to process an application for state nomination.
At time of publication, these can be summarised as follows:
|State or Territory||Cost of 491 state nomination application (AUD) With GST|
|New South Wales||$300/$330|
What are the social benefits of applying for a 491 visa apart from medicare. Does it include schooling for kids?
Yes, similar to the 489 visa, may be able to be enrolled as a local student, depending on the rules in the relevant state.
Can I apply for a 491 visa while I hold a TSS 482 or other visa?
Applicants for the 491 visa can be outside Australia or, if in Australia, must hold any substantive visa or Bridging Visa A, B or C.
Certain states have issues with nominating 457 visa or TSS 482 visa holders for the 491 visa.
For example, in South Australia, you need express written permission from your sponsor, unless you are in the last year of your visa.
‘What do I need to do to achieve permanent residency?’
The requirements sound straightforward but do present a challenge.
Essentially, you need to live and work in a regional area of Australia for at least 3 years before you are eligible to apply for the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa subclass 191.
To meet the work requirement, you must have earnt a taxable income of $53,900 per annum for at least 3 years. This may be a challenge for new migrants to achieve straight away and maintain for three years.
The visa is valid for 5 years, so you do have plenty of time to achieve this, but it is still something to keep in mind. You can work in any occupation, not necessarily just the one you were nominated for.
It is important to remember that while you hold a 491 visa, you and your family must only live and work in regional Australia. Only once you have been granted permanent residency are you permitted to live in other locations like Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.