(vi)Skilled Work Regional Visa 491:

One of the important Australia Permanent Residency pathways Skilled Regional visa (subclass 489) has been replaced by the newly launched Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa. This visa category has been introduced by the Australian Department of Home Affairs and has commenced from 16 November 2019.

This is a point-tested visa is especially for those skilled workers who wish to live and work in a regional area of Australia. Also, with this visa, you are sponsored by an Australian State or Territory Government or an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area of Australia.

With this visa, you can stay in Australia for up to 5 years. The designated area of Australia is any part of the country, except Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, and Melbourne. Similar to Subclass 489 Skilled Regional visa the regions of Newcastle, Wollongong, and the NSW Central Coast are regarded as designated regional areas.

How many points are required for a 491 Visa?
Since subclass 491 is a points-tested visa, once you submit your EOI in SkillSelect you will be granted an indicative points score that will be based on the claims you have made, In case you can obtain 65 points or more you will be granted an Invitation to Apply for this visa type. Even if you are invited to apply your invitation will state the number of points that you will be required to score when your application is evaluated for granting of the said visa.

Benefits of 491 Visa:
-> You will be allowed to stay in any regional or designated area of Australia for 5 years.
-> With this visa, you can live, work and study in a designated regional area of Australia
-> Also, you can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want, till the time the 491 visa is valid.
-> You can include eligible members of your family in your visa application.
-> The best part about applying via this visa pathway if you fulfill the eligibility requirements, you can even transition to permanent residency in Australia.
-> There is priority processing granted to regional visa applications.
-> Incentives are granted to newcomer immigrants for staying in these regional or designated areas for a longer-term.
-> Additional points are granted to 491 visa applicants.

When will you be invited to apply for 491 visas?
You will be given preference by the Australian Department of Immigration in the following order of hierarchy:
-> First priority will be granted to candidates who have a partner who is skilled (in terms of work experience and educational qualifications) or an applicant without a partner.
-> Second priority will be given to a prospective candidate who has a partner having proficiency or competency in the English language.
-> Last and final preference will be given to candidates who have a partner who is neither eligible for proficient English nor has skilled partner points.

Can 491 Visa Holders lodge other Visas?
The holders of 491 visas will not be able to able to lodge under certain visas till the time they have held a 491 visa and have fulfilled its conditions for a period of 3 years. This will include skilled permanent residency visas like Subclass 189 and Subclass 190, Business visas (124, 132, and 188) visas, Employer Nominated PR Visa (186) as well as onshore partner visas (820). The need for immigrants to live and work in a regional or a designated area of Australia is driven by the need to assist economic development and increase population density in sparsely occupied regional areas of Australia.

Does 491 Visa lead to Permanent Residency?
As discussed above, the 491 visa is a five-year residency visa, but if you meet all its eligibility requirements you can even apply for permanent residency in Australia via the subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (skilled regional) visa. But prior to taking this step, you are required to meet the following eligibility requirements:
-> As an applicant, you should have lived, worked, or studied in an Australian regional or designated area for a minimum time of 3 years (under 491 visa subclass).
-> In the duration of these three years, you must have minimum earnings of $53,900.

What happens to the current 489 visa holders and those who lodge a 489 visa before the change?
Existing 489 visa holders or those who have lodged for 489 visas before the date of 16th November 2019, will have to continue their permanent residency pathway journey via the visa subclass 887.