The Australian regional work visas regime is all set to change from 16th November 2019. The newly introduced work visa subclass 491 will be replacing the subclasses 489 and 187. The new clauses indicate that there will be an annual induction of 14000 foreign skilled human capital into the Australian regional areas. Although the new subclasses are termed temporary/provisional visas, but the route to Australian Permanent Residency will remain open with certain conditions and eligibility criteria.

What is the Subclass 491 Visa?
The Subclass 491 is a temporary visa that is granted to qualified skilled human capital along with their families and partners. This visa allows these workers to undertake study or work in regional areas of Australia for a period of 5 years.

The Australian visa grant is based on a comprehensive points and invitation system. The 491 visa aspirants are required to either get sponsorship directly from the regional state or any eligible family member already settled in the region.

Before diving into more details about the new visa policy, let’s first see what the main differences are between the two:

The main differences between 491 and the 489 visas are:

  1. The newly introduced 491 visas has unlocked more regional zones. In fact, except for Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne; the visa holders will be able to live and work in virtually all other regions. Wollongong, New Castle and NSW Central Coast are some of the newest additions to this list.
  2. Under the new visa subclass 491, the wait/eligibility period for the application for the Australian Permanent Residency (PR) has been increased from 2 years to 3 years.
  3. The older point system has been replaced with an enhanced version. The new visa gives advantage to the single / bachelor applicants in the shape of more points. Moreover, the applicants with skilled partners having acceptable English skills will also be awarded equal points.

Here are some of the salient features of the new Subclass 491 visa:

  • Under this visa regime, 14000 allocations will be made each year.
  • The occupations list has been expanded. The list has now extended to include more than 500 occupations.
  • The age limit for the application of the 491 visa is set below 45 years.
  • The 491 Visa holder will be allowed to relocate from one region to another.
  • The visa holders will have access to permanent residency pathway after three years.
  • This visa will be granted for 5 years.
  • The permanent residency pathway will be available for the 491 holders under the 191-subclass visa regime. This will begin on 16th Nov 2022.
  • The visa application fee is set at AUD 4045 with partner application price of AUD 2025.

The eligibility criteria for the application of subclass 491 visa is as under:

  • Age:
    • The maximum age limit for the 491 visa is below 45 years
  • The Australia Migration Skill Assessment:
    • The visa aspirant should have a valid skill assessment for their area of expertise.
  • English competency:
    • The candidate must demonstrate English language competency in terms of speaking, reading, writing and listening
  • Work Experience:
    • The visa aspirant must have 3 years of relevant work experience with at least AUD 53,999 annual average income.

The core of the subclass 491 skilled working visa is based on a points system. All skilled worker visas aspirants need to score a certain amount of points in order to qualify to apply for the visa.


The new Australia migration points system for the skilled worker visa 491 being implemented from 16th November 2019 is as under:

  • 15 points will be allocated if the nomination is made by the State or the Territory. Previously, the points were less than 10 with 489.
  • 5 Points allocation is made for the partner who can demonstrate competency in English. There was no such allocation during the previous 489 visa regime.
  • Bachelors / Single applicants will now be awarded 10 points for this visa type. This factor had no weightage during the previous points allocations.
  • 10 points are scored by the visa aspirant if they have a skilled spouse/partner below the age of 45.
  • The visa applicant is awarded 15 points if they are sponsored by a family member who is currently settled in regional Australia.
  • There are some additional points for applicants with specific STEM qualifications.

The Invitation Ranking:

The Australian 491 skilled worker visa works on a system based on invitations. The invitations are ranked based on the points score of the applicant and the partner.

The invitation priority/ranking:

  • First: Applicants of a 491 visa whose spouse/partner replicate their points in terms of skills and other competencies. Also, single/bachelor applicants receive the first invitation priority.
  • Second: The applicants whose partners show competency in English, but lack skill points will receive the 2nd priority when inviting
  • Third: This is the last priority invitation category and is applicable to those aspirants whose spouse have neither the competency in English nor any skill points.

Our Analysis:

The new visa regime is set to create a more favourable environment for migration to regional Australia. The expansion of the occupations list and regional borders has made this quite attractive for the work visa aspirants. Also, the provision of the ability of the visa holders to relocate from one regional state to another has made this visa type the most recommended.

However, due to a limited number of allocated places, the visa aspirants will have to ensure complete preparation before launching their visa applications. There is no margin for error since the scrutinizing authorities won’t be putting much consideration into incomplete or wrongly filed applications.

Also, it is now a fact that the scrutiny officers will be going an extra mile to prevent any system hoodwinking. Visa applications filed with mala fide intent will bear serious consequences.


Australia is making it easier for professionals to migrate. This is indicative of the fact that the job market in regional Australia is lucrative yet competitive. In order to enhance your chances of success, your application needs to be lodged via qualified and experienced Australian immigration lawyers duly registered with MARA and their respective regional Bars.

BMS Australia provides you this opportunity with its turnkey migrate to Australia solutions. We are based in Australia and take pride in providing the best Australian immigration and PR consultancy services. Click here to get in touch with BMS today for all your Australian migration and PR consultancy process.


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