Subclass 491: Skilled Work Regional Visa
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (SWR) visa is a new and enhanced points-tested line of general skilled migration to assist skill shortages in regional parts of Australia. It is a temporary visa that permits the visa holders to lawfully enter and remain in Australia up to 5 years from the visa grant and provides an opportunity to apply for permanent residency through Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled – Regional) visas.
There are 2 streams available under this visa program, where applicants can be nominated by a State or Territory Government authority, or sponsored by an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area.
491 State Nomination
Case officers are usually satisfied that nomination by a State or Territory Government authority continues are valid unless the Department is notified, in writing, by the relevant authority that the nomination has been withdrawn. If it is withdrawn after visa application but before a decision is made in relation to the application, the visa application must be refused as the applicant cannot satisfy the key requirements.
491 Family Sponsorship
The applicant must provide evidence that their family, who is to sponsor them for the subclass 491 visa, satisfies the requisite criteria. A signed declaration is to be submitted to the Department as evidence that the family sponsor acknowledges their sponsorship obligations.
Eligible Family Sponsor
For valid Subclass 491 applications, the sponsor must sponsor every family unit member of the primary applicant and be:
- At least 18 years old; and
- An Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen; and
- Usually resident in a designated regional area; and
- An eligible relative in which the sponsor is directly related to either the primary applicant or the primary applicant’s spouse or de facto partner, that is:
- a parent; or
- a child or step-child; or
- a brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, step-brother or step-sister; or
- an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step-aunt or step-uncle; or
- a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step-nephew or step-niece; or
- a grandparent; or
a first cousin.
In determining whether the sponsor is usually resident in a designated regional area, the Department is to consider the sponsor’s actual physical residence, that is, where they eat and sleep and have their usual abode.
Onshore applicants must hold either a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B or C. Although secondary applicants do not necessarily have to hold the same visa, each of the secondary applicants must also hold a qualifying visa at the time of application if they are also in Australia.
Waiver of Visa Conditions
Some onshore applicants may be imposed with Visa Conditions 8503 or 8534. The conditions are stipulated below:
- Visa Condition 8503: The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia.
*The Department’s system will automatically waive the condition to enable lodgement of the Subclass 491 application and grant an associated BVA.
- Visa Condition 8534: The holder will not be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than:
(a) a protection visa; or
(b) a Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa; or
(c) a Subclass 590 (Student Guardian) visa;
while the holder remains in Australia.
*The Department’s system will waive the condition and allow lodgement of a Subclass 491 application, but the waiver is not automatically granted in every case.
The primary applicant must not have turned 45 years of age at the time (date) of the invitation.
At the time of invitation to apply for the Subclass 491 visa, the relevant assessing authority must have assessed the applicant’s skills as suitable for the applicant’s nominated skilled occupation. The assessment must not have been made for the purposes of a Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa.
Applicants are required to demonstrate that, at the time of invitation to apply for a Subclass 491 visa, the applicant had competent English.
Criteria – One fails, all fail
The Subclass 491 primary applicant cannot satisfy the primary criteria and be granted a visa unless all members of the family unit members who are Subclass 491 visa applicants (and in some cases, members of their family unit who are not visa applicants) satisfy those criteria.
Subsequent Entrant Applications
Subsequent entrants refer to secondary applicants applying for their Subclass 491 visas when it has already been granted to the primary visa holder. This practice is allowed as Subclass 491 is provisional that is still classified as a temporary visa.
These secondary applicants must be a member of the family unit of the primary a person who holds a Subclass 491 visa. A visa application made by a subsequent applicant can include more than one person seeking to satisfy the secondary criteria for the visa grant(s).
Case officers will closely review the declared relationship history, in conjunction with the information provided in the associated primary visa holder’s previous application in determining whether the subsequent entrant applicant is a member of the family unit. The Department will scrutinise any application where the Subclass 491 visa holder had declared themselves to be ‘single’ and were awarded the points, and the declared relationship with the subsequent entrant applicant commenced shortly after the associated visa holder was issued an invitation to apply for or was granted a Subclass 491 visa. If the de facto or spouse relationship commenced after the invitation to apply but before decision the visa applicant is required to notify the Department of the change in circumstances.
Bridging Visa for Offshore Applicants
A person, who applied for a Subclass 491 visa whilst outside Australia, is eligible to apply for a BVA if he or she held a substantive visa at the time at which the visa application was lodged. A separate BVA application is required and can only be made in Australia. To the contrary, if the offshore applicant did not hold a substantive visa at the time of the visa application, neither a BVA or BVA can be issued in association.
Restrictions on applying for other permanent visas
The visa holders are unable to make a valid application for the following visa subclasses for at least three years:
- Subclass 820 (Partner)
- Subclass 124 (Distinguished Talent)
- Subclass 132 (Business Talent) visa
- Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme)
- Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional))
- Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent)
- Subclass 190 (Skilled – Nominated)
- Subclass 858 (Distinguished Talent)
491 Visa Conditions
Eligible Family Sponsor
The holder must notify Immigration of a change to any of the following within 14 days after the change occurs:
(a) the holder’s residential address;
(b) an email address of the holder;
(c) a phone number of the holder;
(d) the holder’s passport details;
(e) the address of an employer of the holder;
(f) the address of the location of a position in which the holder is employed.
Visa Condition 8579
While in Australia during the regional residency period, the visa holder must live, work and study only in a part of Australia that was a designated regional area at the time the relevant nomination in relation to the primary person was made.
Visa Condition 8580
If requested, in writing, by the Minister to do so, the holder must provide evidence of any or all of the following within 28 days after the date of the request:
(a) the holder’s residential address;
(b) the address of each employer of the holder;
(c) the address of each location of each position in which the holder is employed;
(d) the address of an educational institution attended by the holder.
Visa Condition 8581
If requested, in writing, by the Minister to do so, the holder must attend an interview:
(a) at a place and time specified in the request; or
(b) in a manner, and at a time, specified in the request.
Migration (LIN 19/051: Specification of Occupations and Assessing Authorities) Instrument 2019
Refer to our blog – Subclass 491 occupations