The Subclass 491 visa, which is also known as the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa, replaces the Subclass 489 visa program. It is part of the Skillselect program. It is is for skilled workers who want to migrate to Australia as permanent residents and are eligible to be nominated by a state or territory government agency or by an eligible relative. It is a provisional permanent residence visa, which after three years, if you meet all the conditions of the visa, allows you to apply for permanent residence via the Subclass 191 Skilled Regional Visa. Each state and territory has its own list of requirements, which are updated frequently. In addition to the State and Territory requirements, your occupation must be on the relevant skilled occupation list
The subclass 491 visa lets you:
- Stay in Australia for 5 years
- live, work and study in a designated regional area of Australia
- Travel to and from Australia as many times as you want, during the period that your visa is valid
How the 491 Visa Works
The second stage of the 491 visa is the Expression of Interest (EOI). An EOI is a request by you, to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to be invited to make a visa application. You will be requested to provide a range of information depending on the type of visa(s) you are interested in applying for. Whether or not you are invited to apply for a visa is determined by a points system and the relevant State or Territory nomination requirements. If you do not have the required number of points, you will not be invited to apply. If you are invited to apply and you cannot substantiate the information you provided in your EOI, which for a Subclass 491 visa must include State or Territory nomination approval, your visa application will be refused. Therefore, a well prepared and substantiated EOI is essential. A successful skills assessment by the Australian assessing body mandated by DHA for your particular trade or profession is an essential part of the application process. The skills assessing bodies are very exacting in their requirements, particularly in the area of the trades. Failure rates are high.
The first stage of the 491 visa is to make an application for nomination to the State or Territory Government which is looking for workers with your skillset. (Not required if you are being sponsored by an eligible family member). Each State has different requirements for nomination which are summarised here with links to the appropriate information for each state:
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Details of eligibility requirements for the ACT can be found HERE.
New South Wales (NSW)
NSW Department of Industry works in partnership with participating Regional Development Authorities (RDA) committees in NSW to deliver the 491 program. Details can be found HERE .
Northern Territory (NT)
To be eligible for nomination, you must meet the conditions for nomination by the Northern Territory Government. Details be found HERE.
The Government of Queensland has different rules for nomination and different occupation lists depending on whether you are living and working in Queensland or are overseas or in a different state. Details can be found HERE.
South Australia (SA)
In order to be nominated for sponsorship by the Government of South Australia, your occupation must be on their State Nominated Occupations List or their Supplementary Occupations List and you must meet certain other conditions. You can check if your occupation is on one of these lists and if you meet the conditions HERE.
The Tasmanian government has different nomination options according to whether you are a Tasmanian graduate, working in Tasmania or are living overseas and have a job offer. The conditions for nomination by the Tasmanian State Government are listed HERE.
In order to be nominated for sponsorship by the Government of Victoria, your occupation must be on their State Nomination Occupations List or their State Nomination Occupations List for Graduates and you must meet certain other conditions. You can check if your occupation is on one of these lists and if you meet the conditions HERE.
Western Australia (WA)
In order to be nominated for sponsorship by the Government of WA, you must meet the conditions listed HERE.
The third stage of the 491 visa is your visa application. The quality and content of your documentary evidence will impact upon the speed at which your application is processed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Inadequate content, information inconsistent with your EOI, or incorrectly completed application forms may result in your application being refused. The Department’s visa application charges are generally non-refundable in the event of a refusal.
Basic Requirements for the 491 Visa
To meet the basic requirements for the 491 visa, you must:
- Have an occupation which is eligible for the 491 visa on the Skilled Occupation List
- Have a suitable skills assessment for your occupation
- Meet the English language requirements
- Be able to score at least 65 on the points test
- Submit an Expression of Interest
- Apply for State or Territory Nomination
- Be nominated by a State or Territory government or an eligible relative
- Be invited to apply for a visa application
- Be less than 45 years old when you receive an invitation to apply for a visa
- Meet health and character requirements
Applying for a 491 Visa
If you are invited to apply for this visa, you will have 60 days in which to lodge an online application
- The visa application must be lodged through SkillSelect;
- You can be inside or outside Australia when you lodge your application;
- If you apply whilst you are in Australia, you may be eligible for a Bridging visa that allows you to stay lawfully in the country whilst your application is processed;
- A visa application charge is payable to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship when you lodge your application;
- Your application must reflect the information provided in your Expression of Interest and be supported by relevant documentary evidence.
Including Family Members in your Visa Application
You can include certain family members in your application
- An additional charge is made by the Department of Immigration and Border protection for each additional applicant;
- A second visa application charge is payable in respect of dependants aged 18 or over who are included in your application and have less than functional English. To meet the Functional English requirement, an overall band score 4.5 on the International English Language Testing System etc (IELTS) or other test recognised by the DHA is required;
- Family members included in your application need to meet the health and character requirements for this visa;
- If your spouse and/or other dependents are not included in your visa application, they must still undergo immigration medicals.