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New Regional Visas To require A Three Year Stay Before Permanent Residence

regional visas
The Government has introduced legislation for Australia’s new Skilled Regional Visa options, which will require migrants to work for three years in regional areas before becoming eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff 18 April, 2019


Currently, migrants can directly apply for permanent residence in regional areas through the Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa. However, under the Migration Amendment (New Skilled Regional Visas) Regulations 2019, the existing Subclass 187 and 489 Regional Visas will be closed and replaced by the Subclass 491, 494 and 191 Visas from 16 November 2019.

The Amendment will also expand the classification of regional areas in Australia. It will broadly allow any area to be classified as a designated regional area, except Australia’s busiest metropolitan areas – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth.


How Visa Conditions Will Apply

Under the new Subclass 491 and 494 Temporary Regional Visas, migrants will have the option to live and work in any designated regional area and move to other designated regional areas. However, visa conditions will apply to prevent these visa holders from applying for the below visas, unless they have completed three years in a designated regional area:

  • Subclass 124/858 Distinguished Talent
  • Subclass 132 Business Talent
  • Subclass 186 Employer Nominated Scheme
  • Subclass 188 Business innovation and Investment
  • Skilled 189 and 190 General skilled Migration
  • Subclass 820 Partner (Temporary)

Exceptions apply under some circumstances. Migrants who do not comply with this condition risk having their visa cancelled. Here is our summary of Australia’s new Regional Skilled Visa options that will become available from 16 November 2019.


Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa

This visa will:

  • Replace the existing Subclass 489 Skilled – Regional (Provisional) Visa;
  • Allow for a temporary five year stay with access to permanent residence after three years;
  • Be available under two streams; a State/Territory Sponsored Stream and a Family Member Sponsored Stream.

Both streams will require migrants to meet a points test and be issued an invitation by the Government before they can apply for this visa. The Amendment will also introduce changes to the existing points test, which will apply to migrants intending to apply for this visa – you can read about this in our article here. Family members wishing to sponsor their family member to live and work in a regional area will also need to meet eligibility requirements.


Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa

This visa will:

  • Replace the existing Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa;
  • Allow for a temporary five year stay with access to permanent residence after three years;
  • Impose conditions which allow the visa to be cancelled if there is no genuine need for the position, or the visa holder’s intentions to live and work regionally in the nominated occupation are not genuine;
  • Be available under two streams; an Employer-sponsored Stream and a Labour Agreement Stream.


Employer-Sponsored Stream

Application processes and sponsorship obligations under the Employer-sponsored Stream are very similar to that of the Subclass 482 Visa. The employer will need to:

  • Provide evidence of the genuine need for the position;
  • Demonstrate the position is likely to be available for five years;
  • Pay the visa holder at annual market salary rates;
  • Contribute National Training Contribution Charge payments for each sponsored visa holder;
  • And meet other nomination requirements and sponsorship obligations.

Applicants for the Employer-Sponsored Stream will need to:

  • Be skilled and qualified in an occupation on Australia’s relevant Skilled Occupation Lists;
  • Obtain a positive skills assessment if required;
  • Have at least three years of relevant work experience;
  • Have competent English;
  • Meet health and character requirements and other eligibility criteria.


Labour Agreement Stream

This stream allows employers to engage overseas visa holders for regional work. Applicants for the Labour Agreement stream will need to:

  • Have at least three years of relevant work experience (exceptions apply);
  • Have the English language skills to perform in the occupation;
  • Meet health and language requirements and other eligibility criteria.


Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa

Migrants who have held a Subclass 492 and 494 Visa for at least three years and complied with regional visa conditions may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through the new Subclass 191 Visa. Health and character requirements will need to be met by all primary applicants and members of the family unit, whether or not they are included on the visa application. Minimum taxable income requirements will also need to be met, as well as other eligibility criteria.



Interstaff assist people all over the world with the legal and professional process to travel or migrate to Australia for temporary work or permanent residence. Established in 1988, Interstaff has been trusted by migrating individuals and businesses for over 30 years and are the strongest group of experts for visa work in Australia. MARN: 0533879.