As of the 16th November 2019, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has replaced two previously existing regional skilled migration visas with two new subclasses, with a third to come in November 2022.
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa Subclass 491 replaces Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489). This is a points tested visa which will require either state government nomination or sponsorship from an eligible family member.
- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa Subclass 494 replaces Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187). This visa stream requires employer sponsorship.
A new permanent visa pathway, Permanent Residence Skilled Regional Visa Subclass 191 will also be introduced from 16 November 2022. To be able to apply for this visa, applicants must have held either a Subclass 491 or 494 visa for a minimum of 3 years and have met the requirements.
What are the main changes?
Holders of the 491 visa must live and work in regional Australia for three years before they are able to apply for permanent residency under the new Subclass 191 Visa. This time threshold was increased from previously two years, under the current Subclass 489 Visa. However the visa validity period will also increase from four to five years, allowing applicants more time to reach this requirement.
The new Subclass 491 Visa will also offer a wider range of eligible occupations, with over 500 being added to the list. The definition of regional Australia will also be broadened, and simplified, now including all areas of Australia excluding the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane with Perth, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast now being classified as regional. Both of these changes mean that this visa is now accessible for more people.
Applications for the new Subclass 491 Visa will also receive priority processing, to help fulfil the growing workforce demand in regional Australia.
The proposed benefits of these two new visa subclasses are:
- Priority processing for regional applications
- Increased incentive for migrants to reside in regional areas for longer
- The option to apply for permanent residency without the need for a second nomination stage through the Subclass 191 Visa commencing 16th November 2022, for eligible applicants
- Reduced visa costs to employers with now only one SAF levy surcharge required for a Subclass 494 nomination, compared to two stages currently for Subclass 482 to ENS Subclass 186
- More points available for Subclass 491 applicants
- Wider range of occupations available than for non-regional pathways
- Expanded and simplified classification of Regional Australia
Changes to the points test:
The new visa updates will also involve changes to the points test, which now include:
- 10 points for relevant Specialist Educational qualifications, previously 5 points
- 10 points for applicants who are applying with an eligible skilled spouse or de facto partner, previously 5 points
- 10 points for applicants who do not have a skilled spouse or de facto partner, or for those applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident, newly added
- 5 points for applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who has competent English, newly added
- 15 points for applicants nominated by a State or Territory Government and also sponsored by an eligible family member, currently 10 points.
When all points, with the exception of partner qualifications, are equal invitations will be ranked in the following order:
- Applicants with a skilled spouse or de facto partner OR applicants without a spouse or de facto partner
- Applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who can demonstrate Competent English, but who do not have the skills needed to obtain skilled partner points
- Applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who is ineligible for either skilled or competent English partner points
How Point Migration Agency can help
At Point Migration Agency our experienced team of registered migration agents can help you to assess your own individual circumstances and skills to help you properly understand the visa application process and to determine which visa would be most appropriate for you. We can then help to guide you through the entire process, included gathering all of the required documentation and evidence as well as helping you to enrol and complete a relevant skills assessment. To organise an initial consultation to discuss your options please either contact us or call us today at 1300 815 956.