New Regional Skilled Visa
The 491 is a new visa that will replace the subclass 489 on 16 November 2019. The main purpose of this visa is to encourage migration to regional Australia. The other significant feature is greater degree of assessing the skills of partners (spouses) included in the application.
Some details still need to be clarified but the following information has been released by the Department of Home Affairs:
There are 14,000 places allocated to this visa subclass.
Similarly to the 489 visa, the 491 is a points-tested visa for applicants sponsored by:
- A regional government body of an Australian state or territory, or
- Eligible family member residing in a designated regional area of Australia
- The designated regional areas
- Any part of Australia excluding Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, and Melbourne.
There is a new substantially revised points system for this visa and all other General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas. Following are the changes:
- 15 points for nomination by a family member or a regional part of a state or territory
- 10 points for Masters or PhD level Australian qualification in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – (STEM).
10 partner points, if one of the following apply:
- You have a skilled partner. This means that your partner is under 45 years of age, obtains a positive skill assessment in a job on the same shortage list as you and has Competent English; or
- You are single, or
- You have a partner who is an Australian permanent resident or an Australian citizen
5 points if your partner can demonstrate Competent English. The partner can be over 45 years of age and does not need to work in a skilled occupation
The other elements of the existing points system will still apply based like your age, qualification, years of overseas and/or Australian skilled work experience, Australian study and English skills, as they do for other skilled visas.
Ranking system for sc491 visa invitations:
- Equal first: Applicant with a skilled partner OR applicants without a partner
- Second: Applicant with a partner who can demonstrate Competent English (but does not have the skills for skilled partner points)
- Third: Applicant with a partner who is ineligible for either competent English or Skilled partner points.
Specific condition relating to applying for other visas
491 visa holders cannot lodge certain visas until they have held the sc491 visa, and complying with conditions, for three years. This includes skilled PR visas, business visas, employer nominated PR visa and the onshore partner visa subclass 820.
Pathway to permanent residency
The 491 is a five-year visa offering a pathway to permanent residency through the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence Skilled Regional visa when the following conditions are met
The sc491 holder has lived, worked or studied in the designated regional area for at least three years, whilst holding sc491 visa, and
He or she needs to show earnings of at least $53,900 annually for three years. This can be demonstrated either by primary or secondary visa holder (partner) so either can be the main applicant for Subclass 191.
This visa offers an opportunity to migrate for many people who have not been able to qualify for any permanent residency pathway available so far. To see if you qualify please book a consultation.