• Pradeep Brar

The New Subclass 491 visa

16 November 2019, the Australian Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) has announced significant changes to the skilled migration program. Three new visa Subclasses will also be introduced with the closing of some existing visa Subclasses. These new visas are collectively known as 'The New Skilled Regional Visas'.

We will look at one of these visas - which would be of benefit to visa aspirants who - either have not been able to get invitations for Subclass 189 / 190 or who have relatives living in regional areas of Australia.

The Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa - is a temporary visa and is granted for 5 years.

The visa is introduced with an intention to increase the migrant intake into regional areas. At the commencement on 16 Nov 2019, it is intended that any area excluding the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Perth would be designated as Regional area. Moreover, the visa holder would be allowed to live in any designated regional area and also be allowed to move between regional areas. There would be two streams:

  1. State / Territory Sponsored - nominated by State / Territory Government

  1. Family-sponsored - nominated by a family member who is over 18 and is Australian Citizen, PR or eligible New Zealand citizen. The Sponsor must be usually resident of the regional area too. The sponsor would be primarily obligated to assist financially and with accommodation.

The points test would be administered similarly as - the current skilled migration visas, apart from a few changes. Some changes that would come into effect on 16 Nov 2019:

  • 15 points would be awarded for State or Territory government OR sponsorship by family member residing in regional Australia, to live and work in regional Australia.

  • 10 points for either skilled spouse or de facto partner or no spouse / de facto partner

  • 10 points for STEM qualifications

  • 5 points for a spouse or de facto partner with Competent English

The age limit would still be 45. Other mandatory requirements like a positive skill assessment, Competent English, Health and character requirements, etc would need to be fulfilled. You would still need to be invited by the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the Visa.

The visa is granted for 5 years. It would be granted with some mandatory conditions. The most important being - that the visa holders would need to live and work in a designated regionals area on this visa. The visa may even be canceled if the visa holders are not compliant. The visa holders would be restricted from applying for certain visas until they have completed three years in designated regional areas. The . restricted visas are:

Subclass 124/858 - Distinguished Talent

SUbclass 132 - Business Talent

Subclass 186 - Employer Nomination Scheme

Subclass 188 - Business Innovation and Investment

Subclass 189 - Skill - Independent

Subclass 190 - Skilled Nominated

Subclass 820 - Partner (Temporary)

Pathway to PR:

Once visa applicant has completed three years in a designated regional area and has substantially complied with all conditions, the visa holder is eligible to apply for any visa - if they are eligible. A straight forward pathway would be - to apply for Permanent Residency through Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa. You would need to meet a minimum threshold taxable income level for at least 3 years while holding Subclass 491 visa. Health and character requirements are some of the other important requirements to be fulfilled.

14000 places have been allocated to this visa Subclass for each program year. We are expecting this visa to be highly successful and very high in demand.

The writer is a specialist in Australian Migration Law and practices in Brisbane, Australia. She can be reached at her phone: +61 452577272 or email:

Pradeep Brar

Director and Registered Migration Agent, MARN 1575911

Graduate Cert Migration Law, Australian National University

PGraduate Business Management


Queensland, Australia

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