New Visa Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)

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SKILLED WORK REGIONAL VISA- All you need to know!

From 16 November 2019, the 491 visa will take over the previous Skilled Regional (Provisional) subclass 489 visa.

1. Regional Visa
2. Valid for 5 years
3. Provisional Visa (i.e. Temporary visa that CAN lead to Permanent Residency Visa 191)
4. Meant for Skilled Workers
5. Unrestricted Work, Travel and Study rights

The Skilled Work Regional Subclass 491 visa is a “provisional” visa intended for migrants who are willing to either relocate to a regional area (state sponsorship i.e. invitation by the state or territory government) or have a regional Australian family member who can sponsor them.

Like other state sponsorship visas, this visa is also based on a “points test”. It allows the visa holder and their family members to spend 5 years working and living in a designated regional area.

This provisional visa is to help regional Australia gain access to skilled workers and the expertise they need to grow and thrive. This visa is for people who want to live in regional Australia and who have their occupation on the labor market in Australia.

You can see a list of designated regional areas HERE.

The 491 visa has a revised points system so you have new ways to earn points for your score. You will get:

1) 10 points for nomination in specialist education qualification (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-STEM). Previously 5 points.

2) 15 points for nomination from a state/ territory govt. OR nomination by a family member already residing in a regional area. Previously 10 points.

3) 10 points if you’ve got a partner who is “skilled”. I.e. your partner gets a positive skills assessment, is under the age of 45 and gets the required English Score. OR 5 points if your partner can only demonstrate competent English (NO skills assessment/ age limit etc.)

4) 10 points if you’re single.


In the 3 years (out of 5), you must report earnings of at least $53,900 per year. If you have a partner included in your 491 application, the three-year annual salary (through tax returns) must be shown at or above $53,900. When they can prove that they meet this requirement, the spouse may be the primary applicant for the 191 visa. This will help you secure a pathway from 491 to PR.

All applicants must have a score of at least 6 in each band score or equivalent of IELTS. Alternate measures are approved in the English language. In any of the language tests accepted by the Department of Home Affairs, applicants may obtain the IELTS equivalent: OET, TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic and Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE).

As part of the online nomination process, you should submit a scanned copy of your English language test results. It is pertinent to mention here that you will not be required to submit English language test results if you are a citizen of the USA, UK, Canada, Republic of Ireland or New Zealand.

491 Visa holders must not apply for certain visas until they have received their 491 visa (and have fulfilled their conditions) for 3 years. It includes eligible PR visas (189 and 190), business visas (124, 132 and 188), employer-appointed PR visas 186 and onshore partner visas (820). The need to support economic development and population growth in regional areas underpins this requirement to reside and work in a designated regional area.

Do you qualify for the current 491 visa subclass?
The requirements for State or Territory are likely to remain similar to those currently in place for subclass 489 visa. Each state and territory sets the criterion of their own nomination. This may vary from proving your employability, time spent living in the state or meeting the financial capacity.

Difference between 491 visa and 489 visa
You should be aware that 491 visas include some significant changes that you should know about from the previous 489 visas.

1) Access to an increased number of eligible occupations.

2) In order to qualify for permanent residency, the time required to live and work in regional Australia will increase from 2 years to 3 years. Nevertheless, it will also increase the visa validity period from four years to five years.

3) Increase in points awarded for selection by the state or family (10 to 15), partner skills (5 to 10), partner English (5 to 10) and chosen STEM professions (5 to 10). An extra 10 points will be awarded to “single” applicants, i.e. without a spouse or partner.

4) Priority processing of requests, but no specifics of what this means at this point.

5) Stay in most parts of Australia

Should I apply for the 491 visa, if I can apply for the 190 visa?
If you get an invitation to apply for the 190 or 189 visa, then you may file application for these visas. These are permanent visas. Applicants apply for the 491 visa, if they do not receive an invitation for the 190 or 189 visa.

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