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In 2019, the Australian government passed legislation that introduced two new visas – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)visa or Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 which is also known as the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa.From 16 November 2019, these two visas effectively replaced the pre-existing visas of subclass 489 and subclass 187 respectively.


The details of and differences between the Visa Subclass 494 and Visa Subclass 491 have been enumerated below.


Skilled Work Regional Subclass 491


The 491 Visa is intended for immigrants who want to take part State or Territory government’s regional nomination. Another clause is one of their family members should be sponsoring them in regional Australia. Regional areas of Australia are areas excluding Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The 491 Visa is a provisional visa that will allow you to live, work, and study in regional Australia for up to 5 years. You can apply for this visa from outside or from within Australia as well. After you have lived with this visa for 3 years, you can apply for a Permanent Subclass 191. Applications for subclass 191 will begin after 16 November 2022.


Key Eligibility Requirements for Subclass 491


  • You must be under 45 years of age.
  • You must be employed as a skilled employee from the available list of skilled occupations published by the Australian government.
  • You must have fluency in English.
  • You must have a verified skills assessment from a skill-assessing authority that is relevant to your profession.
  • You must obtain a minimum score on the competitive Points Test that is conducted by the Australian government during 491 Visa Applications.
  • You have to be nominated by an Australian State/Territory or sponsored by a relative currently residing in Australia.
  • Most importantly, you have to obtain an invitation to apply for a 491 Visa. You can do this by submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) on SkillSelect and meet the required Points Test criteria.
  • You have to satisfy Public Interest Criteria, health and character requirements, and Special Return Criteria as well.


Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Subclass 494


The Visa Subclass 494 is a provisional employer-sponsored visa offered by the Australian government. Annually, there are 9000 spots allocated by the government for this visa. The 494 Visa will allow you to work, study and live in Australia for up to 5 years. However, you can apply for a Permanent Subclass 191 Visa after 3 years of residency. Applications for the 191 will begin after 16 November 2022. To obtain the visa subclass 494, you need to properly complete 3 discrete stages. These are:

  1. Sponsorship: The employer must be approved by the Australian government for providing sponsorship or they must have submitted an application for approval.
  2. Nomination: Your employer has to provide a nomination specifying the details of the nominee and also providing details about the position.
  3. Visa Application: The nominee applies for 494 Visa Australia under the relevant stream.


You can find two different visa streams under 494 visa. These are –

  • Employer Sponsor Stream: Through this stream, the approved employer has to address the labour shortages within their operational area. They also have to explain to the government of Australia, as to why they can’t appoint a skilled worker from Australia for that position. Under this stream, the application can only live, work and study in the designated region of Australia. However, they can apply for permanent residency after 3 years/
  • Labour Agreement Stream: The Labour Agreement Stream is for skilled workers who are nominated by their employers. This is a channel that exists directly between the government of Australia and the employers. The applicant arriving in Australia through this visa has indirectly agreed to Australian labour regulations. For any sponsorship applications, the employer must possess a verified Labour Agreement with the Australian federal government.


Key Eligibility Requirements for Employer Sponsor Stream and Labour Agreement Stream


These are eligibility requirements that you must satisfy if you want to work in Australia under the Employer Sponsor Stream or the Labour Agreement Stream.

  • You have to satisfy all the relevant health requirements of the Commonwealth.
  • You must be under 45 years of age. However, you are eligible for exemptions if the employer/Commonwealth allows it.
  • Unless exempt, you must have been employed in your current position for at least 3 years.
  • You must pass relevant skill assessments and possess the necessary qualifications and experience to perform the tasks of the occupation for which you’re arriving.
  • You must have competent proficiency in English.


Key Differences between 491 and 494


The key differences between 491 and 494 are:

  1. Applicants under 491 have to be nominated by Australian States/Territories or sponsored by a relative currently residing in Australia.
    Applicants under 494 have to be nominated by an approved employer.
  2. There is only one application channel for applicants choosing to arrive through the 491 visa.
    Applicants under the 494 visa can submit their application through the Employer Sponsor Stream or the Labour Agreement Stream.


In both cases, you will be able to live, work and study in Australia for 5 years only. However, after you have lived in Australia for 3 years, you can apply for a permanent visa subclass 191 through the proper channels. In case you want to include your family members in your application, you have to mention that while you are making the application. However, you can add your dependent child to the application even after submitting it.

Immigration laws and visa application processes are really confusing and you need the services of an established immigration Agent Perth to help you navigate the endless bureaucratic red tape.

They are intimately familiar with Australian immigration laws and visa application processes. That is why they can help your visa application be a comfortable and smooth process. A skilled migration agent Perth can remove all the bureaucratic hurdles and provide you and your family with a safe and legal way to live, work and study in Australia. Proper visa handling will enable you to enjoy your time in Australia and benefit from the country’s immense natural beauty and other amazing resources.


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