New Regional Visas Overview

On 16th November 2019, the Department of Home Affairs will be introducing 2 new temporary visas:

  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional Visa
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa

These visas will effectively replace:

  • Subclass 489 – Skilled Regional (Provision) Visa
  • Subclass 187 – Direct Entry Stream

This is to promote regional migration by providing more incentives for migrants, and in turn, benefit regional areas of Australia and hopefully construct a more evenly distributed population growth.


Before we talk about the pros and cons of these visas – what’s Regional? At this moment, the definition of Regional varies depending on the visa program you are looking at, which can be a bit confusing. A quick example: Perth is considered regional (well, a designated area of Australia if you want to get all fancy and technical) for Subclass 489 visa, but not for Subclass 187 visa.

However, this is all about to change with the introduction of these new visas in November. A simplified definition will state that Regional is all of Australia except:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Gold Coast
  • Perth

Basic Visa Eligibility

Subclass 491:

  • You must be under 45 years old
  • Nominate an occupation on ‘the list’
  • Competent English
  • Points Test – Minimum 65 points
    • For a detailed breakdown of how the new points test work, please click here.

Subclass 494

  • An eligible Australian employer to sponsor you and nominate you for a position based in a regional area
  • Successful skills assessment at time of application – yes, your occupation must be on ‘the list’
  • 3 years of full-time relevant work experience in the nominated occupation

Why should I apply? (or why not)

Let’s start with the positives.

  • Processing time: these applications are expected to receive priority processing, so hopefully it will be much quicker than Subclass 489 and/or Subclass 187 direct entry, which can take up to 2 years to process.
  • Visa Length: It will be a 5-year visa, which is 1 year longer than a Subclass 482 or Subclass 489 visa.
  • ‘Bigger’ occupation lists:
    • Subclass 491 is said to have 504 eligible occupations, which represents an increase of 77.
    • Subclass 494 is said to have 673 eligible occupations, which is 450 more than the occupation list for non-regional visas
  • A ‘guaranteed’ permanent residency pathway – if you meet all the eligibility requirements as a Subclass 491/494 visa holder, you will be able to apply for a regional permanent residency Subclass 191 visa from 16th November 2022.
  • An ‘improved’ points test system for Subclass 491. Click here for more details on the points.
  • Subclass 494 visa applicants are expected to be eligible for Medicare

However, there are some ‘negatives’ too:

  • It is expected to carry a few stricter visa conditions including: Live, work and/study in a designated regional area, and this applies to all members of the family included in the application.
  • Subclass 494 – higher English language requirements compared to Subclass 482.
  • Subclass 494 – you must have a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation at time of lodgement, so things can be tricky if your skills assessing authority has a lengthy processing time. But you can always contact us to help you plan early.

If you have any questions about the upcoming regional visas, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on how the new points test work, please click here.

Disclaimer: The content above is for information purposes only. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy, it is not intended as legal or immigration advice. No person should act solely on the basis of above information without obtaining professional advice from a registered migration agent.