There has been an introduction of a new visa – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (Subclass 491) that will replace the current State Sponsored Subclass 489 visa. This replacement will take into effect on 16 November 2019.
Although, at this stage, we do not know the full extensive details of the new 491 visa, we expect that this will be very similar to the current 489 visa in terms of eligibility requirements and advantages to applicants.
The key features of the new visa 491 that will be replacing the existing 489 visa will be that it will remain a points-tested visa for applicants sponsored by:
- A designated regional area of an Australian state or territory
- An eligible family member residing in a designated regional area
So, what parts of Australia are“designated regional areas”?
It is intended to be any part of Australia excluding Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne. Unlike the current 489 visa, the regions of Newcastle, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast will also be designated regional areas.
How will points be allocated for the 491 visa?
There will be a revised points system for the new 491 visa so you have new ways to earn points towards your score. You will get:
- 15 points for nomination by aneligible family member or by a regional part of a state or territory
- 10 additional points for Masters or PhD level Australian qualification in specific areas (Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics – STEM). This change is driven by the importance of STEM skills to Australia’s ongoing innovation and economic success.
a) 10 partner points, if:
a. You have a skilled partner who is under 45 years of age and who obtains a positive skill assessment in an occupation on the eligible list of occupations that is same list that applies to you and also has Competent English;
b) Alternatively, you may also get these 10 points, if
b. You are single; or
c. You have a partner who is an Australian permanent resident or an Australian citizen
· Otherwise, 5 points if your partner can demonstrate Competent English. The partner can be over 45 years of
age and does not need to work in a skilled occupation
Points will still apply based on your age, qualification, years of overseas and/or Australian skilled work experience, Australian study and English skills, as they do under the current 489 visa and other skilled permanent visas, such
as 189 and 190 visas .
It is worth noting that the revised points system I have just discussed will apply to all skilled migration visas.
You may have a question that why are partner points changing?
The Productivity Commission found that secondary applicants (i.e., partners of skilled migrants) should also be assessed, given their contribution to the Australian community, workforce and economy. I personally welcome this change as the current point system does not allocate appropriate weight to the skill of a partner, who may equally contribute to the growth of Australia.
Now, the big question may be about the ranking system from the point of view of an invitation to apply? This may
seem complicated but makes an absolute sense.
There will be a ranking systems for an invitation to apply for a 491 visa. The rankings are
1. Number 1, Equal first: Applicant with a skilled partner OR applicants without a partner
2. Second bases of ranking is: Applicant with a partner who can demonstrate Competent English (but does not have the skills for skilled partner points)
3. And, the Third ranking is for the applicants with a partner who is ineligible for either competent English or Skilled partner
Now, the question is whether 491 visa holders can lodge other visas if there circumstances change?
The answer is that 491 visa holders cannot lodge certain visas until they have held a 491 visa (and met its conditions) for three years. This includes skilled PR visas (189 and 190), business visas (124, 132 and 188), employer nominated PR visa 186 and the onshore partner visa (820).
Makes sense though. Isn’t it? – As this requirement for the grant of 491 visa, to reside and work in a designated regional area, is underpinned by the need to support economic development and population growth in regional areas.
Now let us briefly talk about the pathway to permanent residency after 491 visa. How will the 491 visa lead to
Interesting change. The 491 will be a five-year visa. You can access permanent residence through the Subclass
191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) visa, if:
1. You have lived, worked or studied in the designated regional area for at least three years,whilst holding a 491 visa; And,
2. You can show earnings of at least $53,900 for three years. If you have a partner, only one of you needs to show this salary level (through tax returns) and this person would be the main applicant for the 191 visa
Now, you may have another question about these changes. What happens to current 489 visa holders and those who
lodge a 489 visa before the change, that is on 16th November 2019?
So, please note that current 489 visa holders (and those who lodge a 489 visa prior to 16 November 2019) will continue to have a PR pathway through the 887 visa. So, they will not be affected. A news, good or bad, that depends upon your individual circumstances. But at least, prepares you for taking a right decision if you have not already applied for subclass 489 visa.
Hope this helps as I have received several queries from my fellow registered migration agents and lawyers in Australia and abroad, and also from a few of our clients. As you can see that sometime deciding on the right course of action may be confusing, I advise, as always, that you must seek a competent professional advice before you decide on a particular course
of action. As Principal Migration Agent at Migration Centre of Australia and with years of experience in dealing with complex matters, I invite you to call our Sydney office at 02 4626 1002 or write to email@example.com to set up an obligation free consultation meeting with me, should you need any assistance in your need to migrate to Australia either on a permanent or temporary basis through many options available. I am always of the view that Australian visa system offers something to everyone in meeting their needs.