491 Skilled Regional Visa

For those considering living in regional Australia, the 491 can be a vital stepping stone between arriving in Australia, and permanent residency. As a skilled visa, the 491 lets you live and work in regional or low-population areas of Australia without needing sponsorship from an employer.

What is the 491 visa?

The 491 visa is a skilled regional visa that allows you to live and work in a regional or low-population growth metropolitan area of Australia for up to four years. The requirements for a 491 visa differ considerably depending on the pathway used to apply.

What are the pathways to the 491 visa, and their requirements?

There are three pathways to the 491 visa; the extended stay pathway, the invited pathway, and the subsequent entry pathway.

The Invited Pathway

Most applicants new to regional Australia will be applying through the invited pathway. The invited pathway is very different to the extended and subsequent entry pathways, and has more in common with other skilled visa types.

There are two ways to enter the invited pathway. The first is through nomination by a State or Territory government. If you apply for a 491 visa through a State or Territory nomination, you must live and work in this State or Territory for the duration of your visa.

The second way to enter the invited pathway is through sponsorship by an eligible relative living in a designated area of Australia. If you apply for a 491 visa through sponsorship, you will need to live and work in this designated area.

The eligibility requirements for invited pathway applicants are as follows:

  • You are nominated by a state or territory government agency or be sponsored by an eligible relative
  • You are invited to apply
  • You have a relevant occupation on the relevant skilled occupation list
  • You have a positive skills assessment for that occupation
  • You meet the points test pass mark of 60 points
  • You are under 45 years of age at time of invitation
  • You have Competent English
  • You meet the general eligibility criteria including health and character requirements

The Extended Stay Pathway

The extended stay pathway is for applicants who already hold, but have never held more than one, subclass 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa. The 475 and 487 are sponsored visas, while the 495 and 496 are legacy visas that are no longer issued.

A visa obtained through the extended stay pathway lasts for four years from the grant date of your current visa. So for example, if you have been on a 482 visa for 2 years, your 491 visa would last a further 2 years.

The eligibility requirements for extended stay pathways applicants are as follows:

  • You have held a 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa for at least two years
  • You have never held more than one of these visas
  • You meet the general eligibility criteria including health and character requirements

The Subsequent Entry Pathway

The subsequent entry pathway is for applicants who are a member of the family unit of someone who currently holds a 489, 491, 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa.

A visa granted through the subsequent entry pathway only remains valid until the visa that the family member holds ends.

The eligibility requirements for subsequent entry applicants are as follows:

  • A member of your family unit is the primary holder of a 489, 491, 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa.
  • You meet the general eligibility criteria including health and character requirements

There is no English language skill requirement for this visa, however if you do not speak functional English, you will be required to pay an extra fee.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

To be eligible for a 491 visa through the invited pathway you must first submit an Expression of Interest. You must then wait to be invited to apply. If you’re applying for State or Territory nomination, you can choose those you are interested in when submitting your EOI.

Listed Occupation

To obtain a 491 visa, you must select and apply for an occupation on the relevant occupations list. You will then need to obtain positive skills assessment for the occupation you have selected. The available occupations differ depending on whether you are applying for nomination by a State or Territory, or if you are sponsored by a family member.

Points Tested

Applicants for the invited pathway of the 491 visa are allocated a certain number of points based on personal criteria that includes work experience, qualifications, English level, and age. Like other Skilled Visas, the 491 requires a minimum of 60 points in order to qualify. However, applicants will be invited to apply in point order by occupation, meaning in some competitive occupations a higher number of points may lead to an earlier invitation.

Moving from a 491 visa to Permanent Residency (PR)

From a 491 skilled independent visa, it is possible to move to a number of permanent visas. One of the easiest transitions is moving from a 491 to the permanent 887 Skilled Regional Visa. The requirements of the permanent 887 are usually fairly easy to meet for applicants who already hold a 491 visa.

To be eligible for a 887 visa, applicants who hold a 491 visa must have lived in a specific regional area of Australia for at least two years, and have worked full time in that area for at least one year. The area required will generally be the same as your 491.

Deciding which permanent visa to choose can be complex, and a migration agent or immigration lawyer will help you gain an understanding of the different options available to your circumstances.

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PocketLegal is a migration law firm available to handle all aspects of the Australian immigration process from beginning to end. If you need assistance with visa applications, sponsoring staff members, AAT Appeals, FCC hearings, or any other migration related issue contact our friendly team via the form on this page or by calling 1300 921 114.

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