Migration Mentor Felix Carao

Good news to our kababayans who want to migrate to Australia. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) with its aim of attracting skilled workers to regional Australia is introducing two new skilled regional provisional visas and a new permanent visa to be granted to holders of the two regional provisional visas.

Changes to the skilled visas to take effect from 16 Nov 2019

  • close the Subclass 489 (Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa to primary applicants for a first provisional visa;
  • introduce the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa, a points-tested visa for applicants sponsored by a State or Territory government agency or sponsored by a family member residing in a designated regional area;
  • amend the points test to award:
    • 15 points for nomination by a State or Territory government agency or sponsorship by a family member residing in regional Australia, to live and work in regional Australia;
    • 10 points for a skilled spouse or de facto partner;
    • 10 points for certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications;
    • 5 points for a spouse or de facto partner with ‘competent English’; 
    • 10 points for applicants without a spouse or de facto partner; and

• make a number of minor technical amendments.

Changes to Employer Nominated visas to take effect from 16 Nov 2019

  • close the permanent Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa, except for certain Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled) visa and Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa holders;
  • create the Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (Subclass 494) with two streams: Employer Sponsored and Labour Agreement, for employers in regional Australia to employ skilled foreign workers; and
  • bring employers seeking to employ foreign workers under the sponsorship regime which includes provisions aimed at the protection of both Australian and foreign workers and at the integrity of the program.

Introduction of a New permanent visa to take effect from 16 Nov 2022

  • introduce a new permanent visa, the Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence [Skilled Regional]) visa (Subclass 191);
  • provide that the new Subclass 191 may only be applied for by holders of the new Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 visa;
  • detail eligibility criteria for the grant of a Subclass 191 visa, including that the applicant must (for primary applicants who held a Subclass 491 or Subclass 494 visa at the time of application):
    • have earned a minimum taxable income for three years as the holder of a regional provisional visa; and
    • have complied with the conditions of the regional provisional visa; in particular, including that the holder must live, work and study in a designated regional area of Australia. 

The foregoing changes will apply only to applications made on or after the date of commencement. This means there is no impact on people who make a valid visa application for the Subclass 489 or Subclass 187 which is to be closed, before 16 November 2019.  Subclass 489 visa holders will continue to be able to access the Subclass 887 (Skilled – Regional) visa which is the permanent pathway visa for this group.

The amendments made in relation to changes to the Points Test will apply to both new applicants who apply for the Subclass 491 visa a well as applicants for a Subclass 189, 190 and 489 who are yet to be assessed under the Points Test. The changes to the points test however are beneficial – no applicant with a pending application will be adversely affected because the changes provide for the award of additional points.


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