Am I eligible for the new regional sponsored 494 Visa?
At the beginning of November, the Australian Government released two new regional visas. These were the Skilled Regional (Provisional) (Subclass 491) and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (Subclass 494) Visas. We’ll be covering the eligibility criteria for the 494 visa in this article. Keep in mind that this information is intended for general purposes and may not be relevant for your particular circumstances.
The new visa released by the Department of Home Affairs has replaced the Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa which was formerly a direct pathway to permanent residency. This new visa comes amidst a range of changes and pushes by the Department of Home Affairs aimed at alleviating population growth in Australia. The changes are also addressing skills shortages in regional areas by encouraging regional migration by skilled migrants.
The current eligibility criteria closely mimic the requirements of the previous 187 visa including that;
- Everyone in the application must meet the character requirement.
- All members of the family unit must meet the health criteria.
- The primary applicant must be under 45 years’ of age at the time of making the application (with exceptions for certain academic, medical and science professionals, as well as subclass 444 (New Zealand Citizens) and 461 (New Zealand Family Relationship) visa holders).
- A full skills assessment – valid within the previous 3 years (with exceptions for certain academic professionals and subclass 444 (New Zealand Citizens) and 461 (New Zealand Family Relationship) visa holders).
- Three years’ full-time experience at the required skill level (usually determined in accordance with ANZSCO) (with exceptions for certain academic professionals and subclass 444 (New Zealand Citizens) and 461 (New Zealand Family Relationship) visa holders).
- Competent English (6 in all bands for an IELTS examination).
- An approved nomination through a company that has been approved as a standard business sponsor for a position located in Regional Australia.
The significant difference between the former 187 Visa and the current 494 Visa is that the new visa is a temporary visa and is granted for a period of 5 years. Once you have lived and worked in a regional area for a time-period of three years, you will become eligible to apply for the 191 Visa (currently unreleased) which is a permanent residency visa.
Is the 494 Visa suitable for you?
The new 494 Visa presents some challenges for migrants. The new visa has a higher skill threshold than currently existing employer sponsored visas. It is likely that the visa is only going to be useful for migrants in very certain circumstances.
With the way the current migration program is structured, it is going to be very difficult for those who studied in Australia to be able to access the 494 Visa. It is unlikely that students will be able to develop the required work experience whilst on the 485 visa to meet the 494 visa requirements and any applicable skills assessment.
However, this visa may be a suitable option primarily for migrants who are:
- Holding a 482 Visa in the short-term stream, which has no current pathway to permanent residency; or
- Individuals who already have overseas qualifications and work experience.
It’s always a great idea to book a consultation with a professional to assess whether you are eligible for a visa. One of our Migration Agents can determine whether a 494 Visa is suitable for you or whether there are better pathways.