With big cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane growing every day, new opportunities for regional migration arise. So it is no wonder that many have been considering changing their lifestyle from a busy city to the countryside in Australia, especially with so much that these cities have to offer. For that reason, the 491 Visa is an option that many consider. But how to apply for this visa, and most importantly, what it is?
In short, the 491 visa allows skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in regional areas of Australia for 5 years. To apply for the 491 visa, you will need to be nominated by a state or territory government agency or sponsored by a relative. After 3 years on this visa, you may also apply for Permanent residency through the 191 Stream.
As the 491 visa may be a good opportunity for many visa holders, continue reading below to find out everything you need to know about it
The Skilled Work Regional 491 Visa
The Skilled Work Regional 491 Visa replaced the 489 visa in November 2019.
The main difference between the 491 visa and the other Skilled Visas is that it is a temporary visa initially, that can allow you to apply for Permanent Residency after a 3 year period living and working in a regional area through the 191 Visa.
What can you do on the 491 Visa?
As mentioned above, The new Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa will allow skilled workers and their families to live, work, and study for a period of 5 years in designated regional areas of Australia.
It is a visa available both for those who already live and work in Australia, and for those who live outside Australia.
This visa allows you to:
- Live, work and study in Australia, in a regional area
- Travel in and out of Australia without restrictions as long as the visa is valid
- Enroll in Medicare( the Australian public health program )
- Apply for permanent residence after 3 years through the 191 Visa.
This visa will require you to:
- be nominated to apply by a state or territory government agency, or be sponsored by an eligible family member that has its residence in a regional area.
- have a Positive Skill Assessment for an occupation on the State or Regional List.
- satisfy the points test – with a minimum point of 65.
- Have a competent english level (Minimum of 6 in IELTS or holder of approved passports).
- Have between 18 – 45 years old.
- Receive an invitation to apply.
This visa has a duration of 5 years after the approval date. It also cannot be extended, but you may be able to apply for the 191 Visa after 3 years. In order to apply for the 191 visa you will need to:
- Have lived and worked for at least 3 years with a 491 visa in the regional area.
- Having earned during the 3 years in the regional area, at least $ 53,900 per year.
The application for the main applicant costs AUD$4,045. Also, you will have to pay a fee of AUD2,025 for each family member aged 18 or older and $1,010 for each family member younger than 18 years old who joins you in the application.
You can use the Visa Pricing Estimator to receive an estimate of how much your visa will cost.
Step by Step – Applying for the visa
Step 1 – Submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI)
To apply for this visa, you must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect. There is no charge to generate or submit an EOI in SkillSelect because it is not a visa application. SkillSelect will determine your point score based on the claims stated in your EOI. Also, to receive an invitation to apply for this visa, you must reach at least 65 points.
If you have stated that you are interested in being nominated, your EOI will be visible to state and territory government entities. You’ll receive an invitation to apply for this visa if they chose you within other candidates.
The 491 is a points-tested visa, like all General Skilled Migration visas. This means you must submit an EOI with a minimum score of 65. You will earn points on the EOI depending on your Age, education Qualifications, your english Level, work experience, relationship Status
And more. Also, keep in mind that if you are nominated for a regional area, you will receive additional 15 points. You can calculate your estimated points with this tool.
Once you finish your Expression of Interest, it’ll be available to you in SkillSelect and valid for two years. You can access your EOI at any time and make changes to your information If your circumstances change.
Step 2 – Nomination
In addition to accumulating the appropriate points you must be nominated by:
- a designated regional area of an Australian state or territory,
- or an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area of Australia,
If you intend to work in any state or regional area, you must specify this on your Expression of Interest. You will have to submit an application to be nominated to work in a profession on the State or Regional Occupation List. If there is a labour shortage in a specific profession, the State or regional area may choose to propose a visa holder to fill these positions.
Please keep in mind that the nomination requirements vary by state and location. After submitting an expression of interest, some states and regions will require you to submit a separate expression of interest. Other states and areas will only approach you with an invitation to apply if they accept your application. You will not be able to apply for the visa unless you obtain an invitation to apply for state nomination.
To determine which occupations are necessary and the qualifications for regional nomination, visit the respective state or territory websites.
Step 3 – Invitation
SkillSelect will send you an invitation if they select you to apply for the visa. You must supply all relevant documentation to prove your id, skills assessment, level of English skills, relationship, partner, sponsor, and character claims made in your EOI, as well as to demonstrate that you fit all visa criteria.
Step 4 – Apply for the 491 visa
You will be able to lodge your visa application through your (or your migration agent’s) immigration portal once you have received an invitation to apply for the visa. From the time you receive the invitation, you have 60 days to apply for a visa.
When submitting your application, you must provide proof that supports your professional experience, education, and personal information.
Please note that you will not be able to lodge a visa application if you do not get an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs.
Processing Time – How long does a 491 visa take?
At the moment the processing times are:
- 75% of applications take approximately 9 months.
- 90% of applications take approximately 12 months.
Including Family in your visa
You can include on the 491 visa your spouse/partner and dependent children.
If you are applying for a visa with your family you must ensure they meet the health and character requirements.
Family members who are not traveling with you to Australia may need to meet the health and character standards as well.
Can I stay in Australia longer than 5 years with the 491?
The 491 visa cannot be extended; if you desire to stay longer than 5 years from the date the visa is granted, you must apply for a new visa. This visa requires you and your family to work and study in Australia’s specified regional area. Your visa will not be granted if your nomination is withdrawn.
Can I include family members after I apply for this visa?
Members of your family who do not apply for this visa with you can apply as subsequent entrants to join you in Australia later.
Can the 491 visa lead to permanent residency?
The 491 is a five-year visa. This visa may allow you to apply for the permanent residence through the Subclass 191 – Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional). In order to apply for the permanent visa you will need to meet the following requirements:
You have lived, worked or studied in the designated regional area for at least three years, whilst holding a 491 visa, and
The 491 visa is valid for five years. This visa may enable you to apply for permanent residence under Subclass 191 – Permanent Residence visa (Skilled Regional). You must meet the following requirements in order to apply for a permanent visa:
You have lived, worked, or studied in the selected regional area for at least three years while on a 491 visa, and you can show three years of earnings of at least $53,900. If you have a partner on your 491 application, only one of you needs to show three years of yearly salary at or over $53,900 (via tax returns). If your partner can show that they match the requirements, they can be the principal applicant for the 191 visa.
Where are the designated regional areas?
Other than Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, all Australia is considered regional area. You can check the postcodes and regional areas through this link.
What jobs can I apply for on the 491 visa?
Each state or regional jurisdiction has its own list of jobs that qualify you for the 491 visas. To discover a list of in-demand vocations in that area, you’d have to look at the particular state or regional lists.
Do I need an employer to sponsor me for a 491 visa?
The 491 visa does not require you to be sponsored by an employer. However, many regional or state nominations may need you to work and live in that state.