491 visa Australia ?? SWR visa

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.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Since you have reached this point in this article, we take it to mean that you are interested in this topic or may have a personal stake in it.  If you want to keep abreast of the latest news on Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa or any Australian visas for that matter, please follow our articles and blogs on this website as well as our posts on various social media accounts.

If you have questions in mind right now related to our topic, or about any topic involving Australian migration, don’t hesitate to keep in touch with any of our staff and consultants at Nowak Migration.  We’re always willing and ready to answer your every query and give you expert advice.

The best way to assess your particular situation is to book a consultation with our migration advisor.  You may give us a ring at (07) 3668 0658.  If not, send us an email or drop us a message at facebook.

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21 thoughts on “491 visa Australia ?? SWR visa

  • 01/06/2019 at 10:57 pm

    Hi ! Good information,
    Is there any minimum requirement for English proficiency, as on the other subclass/skilled migration programme it was difficult to achieve required point without getting minimum 7 bands in IELTS

    Kindly provide if point calculatio and minimum points required


    • 03/06/2019 at 9:09 am

      491 replace 489, so you may expect minimum of 65 points as a requirement. Keep in mind this visa will require state nomination – and state requirements may vary. English competent necessary.

      • 19/11/2019 at 3:34 am

        How can we get a full skill assessment from CPA with IELTS 6 each band ? 491 visa requirement is a full skill assessment. How can we meet this requirement?

        • 15/12/2019 at 7:16 am

          Professional Year is the only option with IELTS 6.

  • 28/11/2019 at 8:25 pm

    My name is Manu, from India.
    We have submitted 491 family sponsored EOI (software engineer- 261313) on Nov 16 with 90 points. My sister is living in regional area of Australia. Please let me know my chances. If I get invitation from DHA, can you take further process of my application. Please let me know your fees as well.

    • 15/12/2019 at 6:59 am

      Software Engineer is a pro-rata occupation, so all the places will be allocated to 189, and it is very unlikely anybody will get an invitation for this occupation under 491 family stream. On the other hand, I have a feeling 100 points will be required to be considered for 491 family stream.
      More than happy to take your case over if you’ll get an invitation, but it might be a good idea if you’ll let us have a look if you’d qualify for 491 at all.

  • 11/12/2019 at 6:18 am

    after the 491 visa grant in Adelaide (SA), can we move to any other designated regional place in Australia (Perth, Goldcoast)? how can we move? if I got 491 in SA, after 2 months I got the job in WA, shall I move, if yes pls give more details

    • 15/12/2019 at 6:31 am

      Have a look at 8579 condition attached to the visa:
      If the visa is a Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)) visa, the holder, while in Australia, must live, work and study only in a part of Australia that was a designated regional area at the time the visa was granted.” It does not say that you have to live in the state which gave you the nomination, but – while applying for a nomination you have declared that you’ll be living there, so if you don’t want to be accused in the future of providing misleading information while applying for a nomination…

  • 15/12/2019 at 10:49 am

    I came Australia in 2010, I had done bachelor of accounting, MBA, and finishing soon Master by research. Can I apply Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) after finishing my Master by Research? I never applied 485 visa before. I have each band 6 in Ielts.

    • 17/12/2019 at 7:12 pm

      If you have applied for your first student visa before 05 November 2011 Post-study work stream is not available for you.
      If your occupation is on the MLTSSL list you may still be eligible for the graduate stream.

  • 21/12/2019 at 10:13 am


    I have finished my Enrolled nurse studies from NSW while due to health reasons i could not do RN so at the moment i am doing MBA. While i wish to know if i can apply for 190 from canberra or NSW as with NSW it seems to be to hard to achieve the needful.

    Thank you

    • 30/12/2019 at 9:03 am

      Check carefully nomination requirements on respective state websites.
      Nowadays, each state wants an applicant to live there already to be eligible for a nomination, so ACT does not seem to be an option.

  • 31/12/2019 at 3:53 pm


    I have two questions regarding 491 visa NSW state.

    1. If spouse is studying in Sydney but working and living in regional area, will it effect the entry level eligibility for primary applicant , i mean before entering criteria for 491 NSW visa ?(Note: Primary applicant has satisfied all criteria for 491 NSW visa),
    2. other scenario is, if primary applicant shows 1 year living and work experience with 20 hours per week in nominated occupation , will he be still applicable for entry level eligibility of 491 NSW. (as per Living and working in regional area for last 12 months in nsw)

    • 03/01/2020 at 3:32 pm

      1. 491 holders must live in a regional area. The fact secondary applicant is studying in metro may raise a question, but at the end of the day is all about willing genuinely stay in regional Australia.
      2. I do not think NSW specified whether work experience in the last 12 months would have to be full-time employment. Again it’s about genuine intention to live in regional Australia. If part-time in metro and part-time in regional – may rise doubts.

  • 11/01/2020 at 7:50 pm

    I have two questions:
    1. Can 485 visa holder apply for 491 visa after the 485 visa expires?
    2. I am trying to enrol in Master of Social Work at a university in Brisbane. What is the pathway to get PR visa (preferably stay in QLD state)?

    Thank you very much

    • 16/01/2020 at 9:25 am

      1. You can apply for 491 BEFORE 485 expire if you’ll be eligible and will get a state nomnation.
      2. Enroll to university in regional Queensland – USC coming to my mind. You’ll get extra 1 or 2 years for 485 after the school and extra points for study in regional Australia. Let me know if you require assistance with enrollment.

  • 17/01/2020 at 12:40 am

    I am an Audiologist and working in Perth. I did my Masters from Melbourne. I have 80 points now with my husbands English points included. I am confused whether 189 General or 491 which way to go.
    I definitely prefer PR over provisional. Can you suggest something.

    • 20/01/2020 at 8:59 am

      I don’t think you’ll get an invitation for 189 with 80 points, so 491 (or maybe 190) would be the one to go. Lucky you, an audiologist is on WASMOL list. Let me know if you’d need assistance with a state nomination.

      • 20/01/2020 at 2:40 pm

        Thanks for your quick response. I will discuss it through with my spouse and sure let you know.
        I am waiting for QP licence, once received will start the process.

  • 28/01/2020 at 2:39 am

    I am considering to apply for visa 491 in NT. As far as I know, it is allowed to move between regional areas according to the 491 visa conditions.
    However, in NT migration website under FAQ says the following:
    “As part of the nomination process you will be required to sign a declaration committing to live and work in the NT for three years after your visa is granted.”
    Could you please clarify if it is possible to move between the regions in case I cannot find a job in NT or under any other circumstances? It is not clear based on above mention information. What would happen if I move to an other regional state? Would they cancel my visa?

    • 02/02/2020 at 8:27 am

      There is no condition on 491 visa saying you have to stay in a particular state.
      Signing a statutory declaration and not following what you have declared is the other story.

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