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The new 491 visa is an Australian Government programme to bring migrants to regional areas of Australia. That’s because these areas often experience labour market shortages. The Australian Department of Home Affairs announced the 10th of September 2019 was the last day for state and territory governments to nominate and for invitations to be issued for the subclass 489 visa. 

What is the new Subclass 491 Skilled work visa?

The Subclass 491 Skilled work visa came in November 2019. It allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved employer for up to five years. If you hold this visa, you can: 

  • live and work in Australia for up to five years 

  • include immediate family 

  • study in Australia 

  • transition to permanent residency (if eligible)

What is the difference between 491 vs 489 visa?

The Department of Home Affairs introduced the new skilled regional provisional visa in November 2019, it comes with a new permanent visa pathway from November 2022. Good news, right? Just be aware that these visas include some significant changes that you should know about. 

  • Access to an increased number of eligible occupations (over 500) 

  • Time required to live and work in regional Australia in order to be eligible for permanent residency will increase from two years to three years. However, the visa validity period will also increase from four years to five years

  • Increase in points awarded for state nomination or family sponsorship (10 to 15), partner skills (5 to 10), partner English (5 to 10) and selected STEM occupations (5 to 10). Applicants without a spouse or partner will receive an additional 10 points. 

  • Priority processing of applications, but at this stage there are no detail of what this means. 

  • Live in most areas of Australia, except the metropolitan areas of such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.

How do you apply for a 491 (Provisional) visa?

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa: 491 in Australia opened to applications in November 2019. If you want to apply for this visa, you should meet the following requirements: 

  • be under 45 years 

  • at least 3 years work experience 

  • have a valid skill assessment 

  • demonstrate competent English

  • meet the health and character requirements

How do I get an Australian state sponsored visa?

There are some visas where an Australian State Government can sponsor you. If you are a skilled worker, and nominated by a state or territory, you can apply for these visas. Then, you can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. Sometimes, family members can be included in your application. Each State and Territory Government has a list of occupations in short supply. Sometimes, there are specific requirements such as work experience, English language ability or specialised skills. 

Australian State Sponsored Visa Application Process 

Generally, to get a State Sponsored Visa, you need to follow a three-step application process: 

  • Step 1 

The first step usually requires you to complete a skills assessment. That way, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) can check if you have the required level of skill in your chosen occupation to practice in Australia. 

  • Step 2 

When that is done, you need to submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect. At this stage, you also need to apply for State sponsorship from an Australian State or Territory. You will be able to nominate either a single state or territory, or nominate to be chosen by any state or territory. Remember, you also need to meet the sponsorship requirements of the state you seek sponsorship from. 

  • Step 3 

Successfully completed step 1 and 2? Then, you may receive an “Invitation To Apply” for your visa. This means you can continue to the final stage of your application.

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for changes that may apply to you. If you want Australian student visa, work visa, or PR, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent. However, you can also get free advice for student visas.