491 visa – 494 visa


The Department of Home Affairs announced two (2) new provisional visas to be introduced on 16 November 2019 to assist skill shortages in regional parts of Australia:

  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa – Subclass 491
  • Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa – Subclass 494

Definitions of ‘Regional’

Prior to the amendment, there were 4 definitions of ‘regional’ across 9 different skilled migration visas. The varying definitions had been unified into the single definition as of November 2019. The term, ‘regional’, encompass all of Australia except:

  • Brisbane
  • Gold Coast
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney

Eligible Occupations

Employers in regional Australia, as well as State and Territory governments, who sponsor regional skilled migrants has a broader range of occupations.

  • The new Subclass 491 visa scheme has 504 eligible occupations.
  • The new Subclass 494 visa scheme has 673 eligible occupations.

New Characteristics

  • Subclass 491 visa applicants can claim more points in the Schedule 6D points test.
  • Priority processing.
  • Mandatory requirement that all applicants must live, work and study in a regional area for at least 3 years.
  • Strict obligation to report any change of circumstances to the Department within 14 days.
  • May be required to attend an interview or provide supporting evidence to demonstrate that the applicants are living and working in regional Australia.

Continuing Characteristics

  • Primary visa applicants must be under 45 years of age.
  • Primary visa applicants must have Competent English language skills.
  • Positive skills assessments are mandatory at the time of application.
  • 5-year visa duration.

Subclass 491

  • 2 invitation pathways:
    • State / Territory nomination; and
    • Family sponsorship.
  • Stricter requirement on regional residence and employment – new conditions 8578, 8579, 8580 and 8581.

Subclass 494

  • Operating within the Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS) framework
  • 2 streams:
    • Employer-Sponsored; and
    • Labour Agreement.
  • Regional compliance conditions + 8608 (similar to 8607).
  • Labour Market Testing must be undertaken, irrespective of the International Trade Obligations exemptions.
  • Regional Certifying Body certification must be provided regarding the Australian Market Salary Rate.
  • Minimum 3 years of full-time experience in the nominated occupation or a related field at the same level of skill.
  • Meet health and character requirements (one fail – all fail).
  • SAF contribution must be paid in a sum of $3,000 for small business and $5,000 for a larger business.
  • Pro-rata SAF levy applies if the nomination relates to a change of the sponsoring employer.
  • Eligible for Medicare – health insurance not required.

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