491 visa Australia
There’s no doubt regional Australia is top of mind of the think tank at the Department of Home Affairs these days. Proof of that is their recent announcement about the release of three new visas (491 visa Australia, 494 visa Australia and 191 visa Australia), all impacting migration to the areas in the country categorized as regional.
Effective 16th November 2019, two new provisional visas will be introduced while a permanent subclass will be up for application three years hence. The two provisional visas include 494 visa, also called Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa, and 491 visa, formally named Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. Meanwhile, the permanent visa is formally known as Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa or subclass 191.
Well, the two provisional visas are not really brand new provisions; rather they are replacements for existing subclasses that are currently used in screening applications for migration to regional postcodes all over the country. 494 visa, for instance, will replace subclass 187 otherwise known as the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) subclass 187 visa, whereas 491 visa will replace subclass 489 or Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa.
491 visa Australia. Why the change?
We could not pick exactly what’s on the mind of the policymakers at the Department of Home Affairs as to why they would replace the existing visa subclasses, but we can gather educated guesses based on the news and events surrounding the influx of foreign citizens to our shores. It’s no secret that the citizens of the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and others have been complaining of congestion, growing problem about lack of needed infrastructure, scarcity of available jobs, and other problems arising from a ballooning population.
While city dwellers are grappling with these issues, the residents in the countryside are hoping that able migrants would choose to stay in their places so they could have skilled labor to take on available jobs in various industries. The farmers, too, are praying that able bodies would be made available to pick their produce or tend to their animals.
Without intervention from the concerned agency in the government, tilting the required balance – or just moving the needle a bit – would be an uphill battle considering that humans tend to congregate in city centers where opportunities and amenities naturally abound. Lest we forget, too, there’s inherent freedom of movement for every human being.
The need for subclass 491 visa legislation
Addressing the problem, therefore, requires the enactment of applicable laws. Again, this is just pure speculation from our end. But at the rate things are going, the three new visas seem to arise from the need to put more people in the regional postcodes of Australia and to encourage them to stay put.
What is 491 visa Australia?
We have already written about 494 visa in a separate article, so let’s allocate some time here for 491 visa subclass.
Like we said earlier, the concept of Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa subclass 491 is not a brand-new. This visa is actually a replacement of an existing visa namely Skilled Regional (Provisional) subclass 489 visa. On the 16th of November this year, 489 visa will be put out of commission to give way to 491 visa.
What are the changes from 489 visa to 491 visa?
- Residency requirement
Residency requirement, meaning the time required to live and work in the country before you become eligible for permanent residency, has been lengthened by another year with the rollout of the 491 visa.
It used to be three years with visa 489, now it has been adjusted to three years. Additionally, the validity of the visa is likewise adjusted from four years to five years.
- More available jobs
The new visa comes with a promise of an increase in the number of available jobs in the labor market. While the government is looking at offering about 500 jobs for this program, let’s see how many would be actually available once implementation comes around.
- Improved points system
The DHA seems to up the ante with the new 491 visa by increasing the number of points to be awarded for some key requirements, to wit:
- state nomination or family sponsorship – from 10 to 15
- skills assessment – from 5 to 10
- English proficiency – from 5 to 10
- certain STEM-related occupations – from 5 to 10
And if you happen to be an applicant without a spouse or de facto partner, you will receive 10 points more.
- Priority processing of applications
Just like the 494 visa, the DHA has lent its all-out support to giving priority to the processing of 491 visa applications. It’s not surprising because at stake here is a pressing migration concern.
- A more straightforward definition of regional Australia
Where before you needed to stop a moment to think about what regional Australia would mean, you don’t have to do that now. With the implementation of the three new visas, the new definition of regional Australia would be as simple as this: all areas of the country except Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Perth.
What does that mean? It means NSW Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong will now become part of regional Australia. Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane will still be considered as a regional Australia and is an attractive destination for foreign migrants wanting to apply for an Australian business visa or an Australian investor visa and resettle here. Although there are various Australian visa types, these two seems to be the most suitable for experienced business people.
EOI still have to be lodged through skillselect system and invitation will have to be issued by Home Affairs before a prospective migrant will be able to lodge an application for a 491 visa
What provisions are retained for 491 visa subclass?
- It is still a provisional visa
Just like its predecessor, 491 visa is a provisional visa. But you don’t have to lose sleep over it. There’s a path toward permanent residency for this visa, which we will talk about more lengthily in another article on this website.
- Need for nomination or sponsorship
Nomination by a state or territory government of Australia or sponsorship by an eligible family member who is residing in a regional postcode is an important fixture in this subclass. And it remains rightfully so.
Worth noting in this provision is the fact that the sponsoring family member should not be living just anywhere in Australia; they must be living in regional Australia at the time of the sponsorship.
- Complying with the basic requisites
The basic requirements for Australian migration such as age, required skills, work experience, English language proficiency, character check, and health should still be satisfied.
Tips on enhancing your eligibility for a 491 visa Australia.
To improve your chances of bagging one of the available 491 visas, there are three ways that you can do:
- you enroll in an educational institution in regional Australia. This way, your chances of securing a nomination from a state or territory government – which is an essential requirement in this subclass – are vastly improved. Education in Australia is on a very high level and there are already places outside of the big cities where reputable educational institutions are churning out excellent graduates. Those who are on student visa might be eligible to apply for 491 visa.
- get employed by a company operating in regional Australia. This will serve the same purpose as above. You can even work and study at the same time.
- if you are not eligible through study and employment, ensure that you have an immediate family member who is already living in regional Australia. You need them as your sponsor.
Hopes for 491 visa
The new Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa offers another avenue through which skilled migrants achieve their dream of finding their own spot in the land of opportunities. It is especially attractive to those of you who prefer the peace and quiet of the rural areas to the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.
The increased number of years required for permanent residency – which may be a pain in the neck for others – may not matter to you at all if you have the time of your life in whatever and wherever you are doing anywhere in regional Australia.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the government will make good on their promise to deliver the targeted number of available jobs and keep their commitment to giving priority to the processing of 491 visa applications.
Let us hear from you
We’re sure you would have tons of questions and comments about the new points-tested visa for skilled migration to regional Australia. Allow us at Nowak Migration to help you sort them out. We’re always here to listen to you.
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