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New skilled 491 visa and 494 visa for regional Australia – Will you qualify?

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New skilled 491 visa and 494 visa for regional Australia – Will you qualify?

New skilled 491 visa and 494 visa for regional Australia – Will you qualify?

 

From 16 November 2019 the Department of Home Affairs will introduce two new skilled regional provisional visas with a new permanent visa pathway from November 2022. The two new provisional visas will supersede two existing visas and will include some significant changes that prospective applicants need to be aware of.

New skilled regional provisional visas (click for further information):

With a new permanent visa pathway:

  • Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) subclass 191 visa

 

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa

What are the major changes?

  • Supersedes the Skilled Regional (Provisional) subclass 489 visa.
  • Time required to live and work in regional Australia in order to be eligible for permanent residency will increase from two years to three years (visa validity period will also increase from four years to five years).
  • Access to an increased number of eligible occupations (over 500)
  • Priority processing of applications (no further detail provided).
  • Increase in points awarded for state nomination or family sponsorship (10 to 15), partner skills (5 to 10), partner English (5 to 10) and selected STEM occupations (5 to 10). Applicants without a spouse or de facto partner will receive an additional 10 points.
  • Definition of regional Australia will be expanded and simplified to include all areas of Australia except the metropolitan areas of; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. The major change here is that Newcastle, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast will now be eligible.

What is staying the same?

  • Applicants must still be nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member living in regional Australia.
  • Applicants will still need to meet the overall points test, age, English language, skills assessment, character and health requirements.

Will I be eligible to apply for the new 491 visa?

The State or Territory nomination requirements are likely to be similar to those that are currently in place for the 489 visa. While State and Territory nomination requirements do vary, there are some common themes that can enhance your eligibility:

  • Graduating from an institution in the State or Territory - currently available in South Australia, Tasmania, ACT (PhD), Northern Territory, Western Australia, and Queensland (Masters or PhD).
  • Being currently employed in the State or Territory - currently available in South Australia, Tasmania, ACT, Northern Territory, Victoria, and Queensland.
  • Have an immediate family member living in the State or Territory - currently available in South Australia and Tasmania.

Basically, if you are looking to get the 491 visa, a good starting point is to either:

  • Study with an institution in regional Australia, or
  • Get a job in regional Australia, which is also a possibility while holding a Temporary Graduate 485 visa.

Transition arrangements: Key dates

10 September 2019 Final day for any state and territory government to nominate and for invitations to be issued for a subclass 489 visa.
15 November 2019 Final day for people who have been invited to apply for a subclass 489 visa to lodge a subclass 489 visa application.
16 November 2019

Applicants can lodge an EOI for the subclass 491 visa.

State and territory governments can nominate and issue invitations to subclass 491 visa applicants.

Applicants issued with an invitation can lodged a subclass 491 visa application.

 

Our view

Overall these changes in the 491 visa appear to offer increased opportunities for skilled migrants in regional Australia. However, the assurances of priority processing and greater numbers of eligible occupations have been hallmarks of regional migration programs in the past only to have been gradually removed.

This biggest negative for holders of the new visa is a longer wait for permanent residency. If you are eligible for the current subclass 489 visa you should consider applying now as under the new visa you will need to wait an extra year before being eligible for permanent residency. Unless you are waiting for your nominated occupation to become eligible or wish to settle in one of the new areas defined as being in regional Australia, there is no reason to delay your application.

 

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) subclass 494 visa

What are the major changes?

  • Supersedes the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) subclass 187 visa.
  • Removal of up-front permanent residency and now a provisional visa with a requirement to live and work in regional Australia for three years to be eligible (visa validity period is five years).
  • Available in two streams, Employer Sponsored and Labour Agreement.
  • Access to an increased number of occupations (almost 700).
  • Priority processing of applications (no further detail provided).
  • Definition of regional Australia will be expanded and simplified to include all areas of Australia except the metropolitan areas of; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. The major change here is that Newcastle, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast will now be eligible.

What is staying the same?

  • Applicants must still be nominated by an employer in regional Australia and meet age, English language, skills assessment, work experience, character and health requirements.

Will I be eligible to apply for the new 494 visa?

The key requirement here is to find an employer in regional Australia that is willing to offer you a suitable position for at least three years and also able to sponsor you for migration. The employer is responsible for lodging the visa application and it is expected that initial advice from a Regional Certifying Body will continue to be a requirement.

Our view

These changes in the 494 visa appear to offer increased opportunities for employers in regional Australia, but as stated above, the assurances of priority processing and greater numbers of eligible occupations have been hallmarks of regional migration programs in the past only to have been gradually undermined.

On the surface, the new visa looks very similar to that which it is replacing, making it look more like a re-branding exercise after a turbulent period of changes to the 187 visa.

The move from up-front permanent residency to at least a three-year wait may deter potential candidates, but a visa validity period of five years means that should be straightforward to achieve.

The biggest single issue with the existing visa has yet to be addressed – that nominees must have at least three years of relevant work experience in their occupation. This requirement is practically impossible for international graduates to meet, with many only eligible for a two-year post study work visa. Even with the introduction of an extra year of post-study work rights for international graduates in regional Australia, this requirement will still be incredibly difficult to meet.

 

Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) subclass 191 visa

This is a new permanent residence visa that will operate in a similar way to the current Skilled Regional visa (subclass 887). This new visa will be introduced in November 2022 to accommodate those new skilled provisional visa holders commencing from November 2019.

Will I be eligible to apply for the new 191 visa?

Applicants will need to hold one of the new skilled provisional visas 494 or 491 and demonstrate that they have lived and worked in regional Australia for at least three years. If you live or work in the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast or Perth, you will be in breach of your provisional visa conditions and not be eligible to apply for the 191 visa.

If you currently hold a 489 visa you will continue to be eligible for the 887 permanent residency visa after two years and will not be impacted by the new 191 visa and lengthier requirement.

 

Summary – Our view

The new visas are going to make it more attractive to migrate to regional Australia, especially for international students that will be enticed to study in those regions with a simpler pathway to the 491 visa.

The soon to be reclassified as regional areas will also experience a major boost – a city like Newcastle, for example, is only two hours by road from Sydney and has its own university.

With one of the most generous State or Territory occupation lists and with Adelaide being the largest regional city, South Australia will continue to be a very attractive option for international students looking to migrate to Australia.

 

Do you need help with an Australian visa application?

At Work Visa Lawyers we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications. Our areas of expertise include Partner Visas, Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer Sponsored Work Visas and other Family Migration visas as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Review, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:

(08) 8351 9956 or +61 8 8351 9956 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Useful links:

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) subclass 494 visa

 

 

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