About us

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00578 – Migration Amendment (New Skilled Regional Visas) Regulations 2019.

The information included in this Instrument is extensive.  The following article provides a summary of the new legislation to be introduced, associated provisions and amendments to the Migration Act and Migration Regulations.

These include the introduction of the new Skilled Regional Visas, the criteria and requirements for the new visas, closure of the visa Subclasses 489 and 187, and amendments to the Schedule 6D Points Test.

Schedule 1 of the Instrument 

  • Introduces the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Closes the Subclass 489 Skilled – Regional (Provisional) subclass
  • Amends the Schedule 6D Points Test for applicants sponsored by State/Territory Governments or family members residing in designated regional areas
  • Commences 16 November 2019
  • (14,000 places have been allocated to this visa subclass)

Schedule 2 of the Instrument

  • Introduces the Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Closes the Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme subclass
  • Brings employers seeking to sponsor overseas workers under Div 3 of Part 2 of the Migration Act and Part 2A of the Migration Regulations
  • Commences 16 November 2019
  • (9,000 places have been allocated to this visa subclass)

Schedule 3 of the Instrument

  • Introduces the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa
  • Details eligibility criteria for this visa, including pre qualifying visas, minimum taxable income for three years and compliance with regional visa conditions
  • Commences 16 November 2022

Point Test changes

Schedule 6D to the Migration Regulations is amended 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

Invitations for points tested visas

Invitations will be ranked in the following order:

  • First – primary applicants with a skilled spouse or de facto partner
  • Equal First – primary applicants without a spouse or de facto partner
  • Second – Primary applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who can demonstrate competent English, but does not have the skills for skilled partner points (age and skills)
  • Third – Primary applicants with a partner who is ineligible for either competent English or Skilled partner points. These applicants will be ranked below all other cohorts, if all other points claims are equal

Transitional Arrangements

Current Subclass 489 holders and applicants with lodged Subclass 187 applications

  • Current Subclass 489 visa holders will continue to have access to the Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa
  • Applications for first Subclass 489 may be made before 16 November 2019
  • Applications for second Subclass 489 visas may continue to be made on and after 16 November 2019
  • Subclass 187 RSMS applications lodged before 16 November 2019 will not be impacted by these changes
  • Amended Schedule 6D points test will apply to new applicants for the Subclass 491 and applicants for Subclasses 189, 190 and 489 who are yet to be assessed
  • The points test will operate beneficially and no applicant will be adversely affected by this amendment

Transitional Subclass 457 visa holders

Holders of Subclass 457 visas on 18 April 2017, or applicants for a Subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 that was subsequently granted, are exempt from the closure on 16 November 2019 of the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Subclass 187 RSMS visa

Transitional Subclass 482 visa holders

Holders of Subclass 482 visas in the medium-term stream on 20 March 2019 or applicants for a Subclass 482 visa in the medium term stream on 20 March 2019, that was subsequently granted, are exempt from the closure on 16 November 2019 of the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Subclass 187 RSMS visa.

New Skilled Regional Visas – features

Designated Regional Areas

  • At commencement of the new regional visas, it is intended that any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth will be designated as a regional area
  • Regional visa holders may live in any designated regional area and can move between designated regional areas

Restricted from applying for other visas

Holders of Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 visas or who last held these visas, are restricted from applying for the following visas, unless they have completed at least three years in a designated regional area, unless exceptional circumstances exist:

  • Subclass 124/858 – Distinguished Talent
  • Subclass 132 – Business Talent
  • Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme
  • Subclass 188 – Business Innovation and Investment
  • Subclass 189 – Skilled – Independent
  • Subclass 190 – Skilled – Nominated
  • Subclass 820 – Partner (Temporary)

Subclass 491 – Skilled Regional (Provisional)

  • Two streams – State/Territory sponsored and family member residing in designated area sponsored

State/Territory sponsored stream

  • Must be nominated by State/Territory Government
  • Review rights for refusal to grant this visa to an offshore applicant will extend to State/Territory authorities under Part 5 – reviewable decisions

Family member sponsored stream

  • Must be sponsored by a family member who is over 18 and is an Australian Citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen
  • Sponsor must be usually resident in a designated regional area
  • Sponsor must be related to the primary applicant or their spouse or defacto partner
  • Family member is defined as parent, child or step-child, brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, stepbrother or stepsister; or an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, stepaunt or stepuncle; or a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, stepnephew or stepniece; or a grandparent; or a first cousin.
  • Obligation to assist visa holder to the extent necessary, financially, with accommodation and to participate in AMEP English language program for 2 years

Applicant requirements 

  • Schedule 6D points test applies
  • Must have been invited to apply
  • Must not have turned 45 at time of application
  • Must have skilled occupation on an applicable list and have a valid, suitable skills assessment
  • Primary applicant must have competent English at time of application
  • Must declare genuine intention to live, work and study in designated regional area
  • Health PIC 4005 and character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit, whether applicants or not
  • May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance
  • Must be holder of substantive visa or BVA, BVB or BVC to apply onshore
  • Temporary visa – five years validity
  • Conditions 8578, 8579, 8580 and 8581 must be imposed
  • VAC – Base application charge: primary applicant $3,755; additional applicant over 18 years: $1,875; under 18 years: $940
  • Second VAC instalment if required – Less than functional English over 18 years: $4,890; any other applicant: nil
  • Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders or past holders, may apply for a Subclass 491 visa, subject to meeting prescribed requirements.

Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)

  • Two streams – Employer sponsored stream and labour agreement stream

Employer requirements 

Nomination, application processes and sponsorship obligations largely mirror those applicable to Subclasses 457 and 482 sponsorship

  • Position must genuine, full time and likely to exist for five years
  • Annual market salary rate (AMSR) must not be less than TSMIT $53,900; annual earnings including non-monetary benefits must not be less than AMSR, unless nominated under the Labour Agreement stream; and terms and conditions no less favourable than for Australian employees must be provided
  • Minister must be advised by a ‘body’ (RDA/RCB?) with the responsibility for that part of Australia, that the nominee will be paid at least the AMSR
  • SAF charges: $3000 for businesses with turnover of less than $10 million, or $5000 for others
  • Cost of fees and nomination training contribution charge (SAF levy) cannot be recovered from the overseas worker or third party – amendment to Reg 2.87S
  • If nominating an existing Subclass 494 visa holder, the new sponsor is expected to assume the sponsorship obligations for family members who already hold a Subclass 494
  • Subclass 494 visa holders will be provided with 90 days to find another employer, if they cease employment with their sponsor
  • Visa can be cancelled if sponsor provides false and misleading information, fails to meet sponsorship obligations, is cancelled or barred from being a sponsor or where a party to a labour agreement, it is terminated, suspended or ceased

Applicant requirements

  • Must not have turned 45 at time of application
  • Employer sponsored stream – must have skilled occupation on an applicable list and have valid, suitable skills assessment; Labour agreement stream – may be required to demonstrate has necessary skills to perform tasks of nominated occupation
  • Nominated occupation to be specified by corresponding 6-digit ANZSCO code
  • Must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least three years on a full-time basis and at level of skill required for the occupation; Labour agreement stream – unless Minister considers it reasonable not to require this
  • Employer sponsored stream – applicant must have competent English at time of application, unless specified in a legislative instrument by the Minister; Labour agreement stream – English language skills suitable to perform the nominated occupation
  • Employer sponsored stream – health PIC 4007; Labour agreement stream – health PIC 4005
  • Character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit whether applicants or not
  • May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance
  • Must be holder of substantive visa or BVA, BVB or BVC to apply onshore
  • Temporary visa – five years validity
  • Conditions 8503 and 8534 may be waived where that visa holder has a genuine intention to apply for a Subclass 494 visa
  • Conditions 8578, 8579, 8580, 8581 and new Condition 8608 must be imposed
  • Visa can be cancelled if the visa holder did not have a genuine intention at the time of grant to perform the nominated occupation or ceased to have a genuine intention to perform that occupation or the position was not genuine
  • VAC – Base application charge: primary applicant $3,755, additional applicant over 18 years: $1,875, under 18 years: $940 (*Minister of Religion or member of their family unit VAC: nil)
  • Second VAC installment if required – Primary applicant less than functional English over 18 years: $9,800; secondary applicants over 18 years $4,890; any other applicant: nil
  • Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders or past holders, may apply for a Subclass 494 visa, subject to meeting prescribed requirements

Subclass 191 – Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa

  • Only Subclasses 491 and 494 visa holders are eligible to apply for this visa
  • Must have held the Subclass 491 or 494 for at least three years and substantially complied with the conditions of the visa and Condition 8579
  • Must have met a minimum threshold taxable income level for at least three years while holding the Subclass 491 or 494 (threshold to be specified by legislative instrument)
  • Dependent children included as members of family unit for the Subclass 491 or 494 visas, may be included in Subclass 191 application, even if no longer able to meet the definition of dependency
  • Health PIC 4007 and character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit, whether applicants or not
  • May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance
  • VAC – Base application charge: primary applicant $385; additional applicant over 18 years: $195, under 18 years: $100
  • Permanent visa allowing holder to travel to and enter Australia for a period of 5 years from grant date

New Schedule 8 Conditions

Condition 8578

  • Notify Department within 14 days of changes to visa holder’s residential address, contact details, passport details, employer address, location of position

Condition 8579

  • Requires applicant to live, work and study (where relevant) in designated regional area
  • Permits visa holder to move between designated regional areas
  • Prevents visa holder from accessing any other skilled migration visa for at least three years
  • Cancellation provisions may apply if not compliant with Condition 8579

Condition 8580

  • Requires within 28 days, if requested in writing by the Minister, the visa holder’s residential address, address of employer, address of location of position employed in, address of any educational institution attended by visa holder

Condition 8581

  • Requires visa holder, if requested in writing by the Minister to attend an interview which may be undertaken face to face or by video conferencing applications

Condition 8608

  • The holder must work only in the nominated occupation identified in the application for the most recent Subclass 494 visa granted to the holder, must only work in position in nominating business or associated entity, unless occupation specified by the Minister or to fulfill a legal requirement after giving notice; commence work within 90 days of arriving in Australia; not cease work employment for more than 90 days; continue to hold license or registration