The Nuts and Bolts of the New Regional Visas

28 Oct



On 16 November 2019, the Department of Home Affairs introduced two new regional visa types. These visas will replace the current Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa and the Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa.


What are the new visas called?
  •  The replacement for the Subclass 489, is now the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa.
  •  The Subclass 187 replacement is now the Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa.


If these visas are both “provisional” (i.e. temporary), is there still a pathway to Permanent Residence?

A new Permanent Residence Visa will be introduced on 16 November 2022 – the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa. This visa will allow Subclass 491 and Subclass 494  visa holders to transition from the Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 visas to permanent residence.

To transition to Permanent Residence with these new Australian visas, you will need to have held either a Subclass 491 or a Subclass 494 for at least three years, and you and your family must have lived, worked and/or studied in a regional area.


What are the Regional Areas for these visas?

The government has just announced that the Regional Areas for these visas will include the city of Perth and the Gold Coast (which you can see in the image above), which is brilliant news. This means that only Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be excluded – but watch this space for the official list of postcodes which hasn’t been released yet.

From what we know so far, in addition to Perth and the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong and Hobart will also be included in the regional areas. This gives potential applicants and employers lots of opportunities in areas that were not considered regional before. For more information, see the Minister’s press release here.


What are the occupations for the new visas?
  •  The Subclass 491, Skilled Work Regional visa will have 504 eligible occupations, but the occupation list has not yet been released.
  • The Subclass 494, the Skilled Employer Sponsored (Provisional) visa will have 673 eligible occupations, but again the occupation list has not yet been released (watch this space).

We have been told that there will be 673 occupations for the Subclass 494 visa, and 504 occupations for the Subclass 491 visas.


Do I still need to do a points test?

A new points test will be released for the Subclass 491, Skilled Work Regional visa, and there will be increased opportunities to score more points under the new test.


What are the specific details of the new visas?

This is what we know so far:

 Subclass 491

  • you must be under 45 years of age.
  • you must have a skills assessment in your nominated occupation.
  • you must meet the required score for the new points test.
  • you must receive an invitation before you can apply for the visa.
  • you will need a “competent” level of English ( i.e. an IELTS score of 6).
  • You must be nominated by a state or territory, or have a qualifying relative sponsor you.

The grant period of the visa is five years, and as discussed above you can progress to permanent residence after three years, provided you have lived, worked, and/or studied in the regional area at all times during the three-year period.

All members of the family must live work and/or study in the regional area for the full three years required to qualify for  permanent residence (Subclass 191 visa). Children also have to go to school in the regional area.

 Subclass 494

  • The applicant must be sponsored by an employer, and there is also a Labour Agreement stream.
  • The nominating employer must obtain approval as a Standard Business Sponsor.
  • English of IELTS 6 level will be required, unless an exemption applies. (We do not know what these are yet)
  • The visa grant is for five years.
  • There is an option to transition to the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence visa three years after being granted the Subclass 494 visa.
  • As with the Subclass 491 visa, all members of the family must live work and study in the regional area for at least three years before transitioning to permanent residence


We will keep you posted with respect to additional information that comes to hand about these new visas.

In the meantime please feel free to contact us for further information, or book yourself a consultation and explore all of your current options with us, and how the changes will impact you.

You can also call us on +61 3 9573 5200