New skilled regional visas

Everyone is talking about the new Australian regional skilled visas introduced on 16 November 2019. But what does this really mean for you?


What are the new visas?

There are two new regional skilled visas which replace two old regional skilled visas:

  • The subclass 491 replaces the subclass 489 visa
  • The subclass 494 replaces the subclass 187 visa

It is also helpful to know in the future (from 16 November 2022) there will be another visa introduced, which is the subclass 191 visa. We will discuss this more below.


New Subclass 491 visa

This is a new five-year visa which allows skilled migrants and their families to live and work in a regional area. After three years they will be eligible to apply for permanent residency. The government has announced there will be up to 14,000 subclass 491 visas available each year.

To apply, applicants must:

  • Be under the age limit of 45
  • Have a positive skills assessment

Also, the visa applicant must be sponsored by either:

  • an Australian state or territory government agency; or
  • an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area


How is the subclass 491 visa different?

  • The new subclass 491 visa receives priority processing to help manage the demand
  • There are incentives for you to stay in a regional area longer term as you build ties through workforce and community participation
  • You can apply for permanent residence without a second nomination stage, if eligible, through the subclass 191 visa (commences 16 November 2022)
  • There are more points available to subclass 491 visa applicants
  • There is a broader range of occupations available than non-regional pathways, with over 500 new occupations
  • There is an expanded and consistent classification of regional areas, which means Wollongong and Newcastle are now considering ‘regional’


What else do I need to know?

  • The minimum taxable income for the subclass 491 will be set at the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) unless concessions are agreed (such as in relation to a DAMA). TSMIT is currently $53,900.


What can I do now?

  • If you are considering this new visa option, you can obtain legal advice now about the specific visa requirements and your prospects of success. Book a free 15 minute phone call with a migration lawyer here.
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