491 Skilled Regional Visa
The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visas, also known as Subclass 491 visas, open doors to skilled workers seeking to live and work in designated regional areas for a substantial period of five (5) years. Moreover, this visa category offers a promising pathway to secure a Subclass 191 visa, which paves the way to permanent residency.
This subclass replaces the previous Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa.
Under the 491 visa program, two (2) distinct streams await eligible applicants. You can either secure sponsorship from a State or Territory Government authority or receive sponsorship from an eligible family member currently residing in a designated regional area.
State Sponsorship stream
The State Sponsored stream requires applicants to be nominated by an Australian State or Territory Government. Each State and Territory has their own requirements, often offering nominations under various diverging streams, such as Small Business Owners.
Upon receiving a nomination, case officers are usually satisfied that nomination by a State or Territory Government authority continues to be valid unless the Department is formally notified, in writing, by the relevant authority that the nomination has been withdrawn. If such withdrawal occurs after the visa application but prior to a decision being rendered on the application, the visa application will be refused.
Family Sponsorship stream
The family sponsor must sponsor the primary as well as all secondary applicants in the applications for subclass 491 visas, and satisfy the requisite criteria. A signed declaration is to be submitted to the Department by the family sponsor acknowledging his or her obligations. This stream has very limited availability.
Eligible family sponsors must be:
- At least 18 years old; and
- An Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen; and
- Usually resident in a designated regional area; and
- Directly related to either the primary applicant or the primary applicant’s spouse or de facto partner, that is:
- a parent; or
- a child or step-child; or
- a brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, step-brother or step-sister; or
- an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step-aunt or step-uncle; or
- a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step-nephew or step-niece; or
- a grandparent; or
- a first cousin.
In determining whether the family sponsor is usually resident in a designated regional area, the Department is to consider the sponsor’s actual physical residence. That is, where they eat and sleep, and have their usual abode. Establishing a familial relationship is central to one’s application and must be substantiated to a significant degree.
491 Visa Occupations
Refer to our blog – Subclass 491 occupations.
491 Points Test
Subclass 491 is a points-tested pathway, requiring applicants to attain a minimum point score of 65 on the relevant points test.
Restrictions on applying for other permanent visas
Holders of Subclass 491 visas are restricted for 3 years of the visa grants from lodging valid applications for the following visas:
- Subclass 820 (Partner)
- Subclass 124 (Distinguished Talent)
- Subclass 132 (Business Talent) visa
- Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme)
- Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional))
- Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent)
- Subclass 190 (Skilled – Nominated)
- Subclass 858 (Distinguished Talent)
The costs of the Subclass 491 visa are as follows:
First instalment payable at the time of application;
- Base application charge: $4,640
- Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is at least 18: $2,320
- Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is less than 18: $1,160
Second instalment payable prior to visa grant;
- Applicants aged 18 and over who do not demonstrate functional English: $4,890
- Any other applicant: Nil
Q: What if my family don’t meet the criteria?
Secondary applicants, such as partners and children, must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this visa. Some criteria apply to members of your family unit who are not included in your application. If any such person does not meet the criteria applicable to them, your application will also fail.
Q: Can I add my partner after my visa is already granted?
Adding your partner to your Subclass 491 after it has been granted is possible under the law, but it will be heavily scrutinised. Because of the risk of abuse and visa fraud, case officers will examine your relationship closely to determine whether it is genuine.
If you declared yourself as single when completing your finalised Subclass 491 application, the case officer will query why you did not disclose your relationship. If your relationship commenced shortly after being invited to apply for subclass 491, this too will be treated as a red flag when assessing your partner’s application.
It is critical that you prove the genuineness of your relationship to the highest standards in order to prevent your partner from having his or her visa application refused.
Q: What are the 491 visa conditions and waiver?
Refer to our page – 491 Visa Conditions and waiver