Sea change, Tree change: skilled visas for regional Australia

-- Lauri Stewart & Keshab Chapagain / प्रकाशित मिति : बिहिबार, भदौ १८, २०७७

The information provided in this article is designed for general purposes only and does not constitute the provision of immigration advice or immigration legal advice.

Are you looking for a change of pace? Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visas were introduced in November 2018 and provide a pathway to permanent residence in Australia which may not be attainable under the subclass 482 visa program.

In order to be granted a subclass 491 visa, the following requirements must be met:

~ Be nominated by a state or territory government or sponsored by an eligible relative;

~ Have an occupation on a relevant skilled occupation list;

~ Have a suitable skills assessment for your occupation;

~ Be invited to apply (if you are being nominated by a state/territory government);

~ Be under 45 at the time you apply for the visa;

~ Satisfy the points test; and

~ Satisfy English language requirements


“Regional” doesn’t mean “outback”, but it certainly includes those areas if that is what you are looking for. Some capital / major cities are included in the list of “regional areas”, such as Adelaide, Hobart and the Gold Coast. In Victoria there are designated regional areas within a 30 minute drive of the Melbourne CBD. Schools and hospitals are strong and well-funded in regional Australia. Travel (by car and public transport) is maintained and uncomplicated. The scenery is beautiful. Life is simple, and what you make of it.

Subclass 491 visas are valid for 5 years. The pathway to permanent residence through this program permits an application after 3 years, although there are other permanent visa applications which can be lodged at any time (such as partner visas, etc). The cost of the visa for primary applicants is $4,045.00 (correct at time of publication), with additional fees for secondary applicants.

The process is a bit different if you are relying on state or territory nomination rather than being sponsored by an eligible relative. If you are relying on state or territory nomination, you need to submit an expression of interest (“EOI”). Every three or six months (depending on which states / territories are considering your EOI) states invite certain applicants to apply. Until that occurs your application for a subclass 491 visa will not be considered by the Department. This is especially important to remember with respect to age requirements, because there is no guarantee that your EOI will be accepted as soon as it is submitted.

The English language requirement for subclass 491 visa primary applicants is competent English. Competent English is defined as having an IELTS score of 6 or more for each of the 4 components (or comparable results in other approved tests), or holding a passport from the USA, UK, New Zealand, Canada or the Republic of Ireland. Secondary applicants over the age of 18 need to have functional English, or pay a secondary visa application charge.

The list of occupations for subclass 491 visas is a bit more extensive than the list for subclass 482 visas, because (as a general rule) regional areas are more in need of skilled workers than metropolitan areas. However, be aware of the split between applications which are sponsored by a relative, and applications which are nominated by a state / territory government. Not all occupations are available to both pathways.

While it is anticipated that you will work in a regional area if you are granted this visa, you aren’t tied to a single workplace like you would be if you were sponsored by an employer. This means that you have the freedom to start your own business or to work remotely for an organisation in another town. With the expansion of working from home, largely necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, many larger companies are choosing to move their workforce off-site. The subclass 491 visa may enable visa holders to live in a regional area, and work remotely.

If you are considering moving to a regional area to be closer to family, or if this sounds like the sort of lifestyle you would enjoy, please contact us for further information or for an assessment of your immigration options.

Writers are associated with Chapagain Stewart Training which provides Continuous Professional Development Training (CPD) for Registered Migration Agents and migration assistance to clients. Feel free to contact on & 0468 375 412.