The following criteria should be fulfilled by the applicant to be eligible for the 491 visa:
- The applicant needs to be nominated by a state or territory government agency to be eligible. An alternative would be that a suitable relative who lives in a designated regional area could also sponsor the applicant via an invitation to apply for the visa followed by a submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI);
- The applicant would need to have an occupation under the relevant skilled occupation list;
- The applicant would have to have a suitable skills assessment done for the applicable profession;
- Must be invited to apply by the state or territory government and
- Complete and satisfy the points test.
Nomination by a Territory or State Government Agency
Each state/territory government diversifies in terms of the criteria required to be designated by the state.
In Queensland, both the Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (BSMQ) criteria must be satisfied and Australian Department of Home Affairs (DOHA).
For a 491 onshore visa, the applicant needs to be residing and employed in Queensland and working a minimum of 35 hours p/w in a regional area in the nominated occupation for the past three months right before the EOI submission. Furthermore, for an onshore 491 visa, the employment must be ongoing in a regional area for another 12 months with a minimum of 35 hours per week. The applicant must be dedicated to working in Queensland for three years from the visa grant other than having an occupation mentioned in the required occupation list.
For offshore 491 visas, other than having an occupation from the Offshore occupation list, there also a requirement to be evidence that the applicant has had at least two years of post-graduate experiences in the nominated occupation and is committed to residing and being employed in Queensland.
New South Wales (NSW)
If the applicant recently finished studying in regional NSW, the nominated occupation would need to be in the NSW Stream 2 Regional Skilled Occupation List, and the applicant needs to have a completed his/her education with an education provider in regional NSW. The education should meet the Australian study requirement; the applicant should have lived in regional NSW during the study, completed their studies within the past 12 months. The study should be closely related to the nominated occupation.
If the applicant is already living and working in a regional area in NSW, the applicant would have to ensure the occupation is under the NSW Stream 1 Regional Skilled Occupation List. The applicant must be living and working in the designated regional area in NSW in the nominated occupation for at least the past 12 months.
If the applicant resides outside of Australia, the nominated occupation would need to be under NSW Stream 2 Regional Skilled Occupation List. As the applicant would be living outside Australia, they would need to obtain an offer for ongoing employment in the nominated occupation for a minimum period of 12 months. Or they need to have a minimum of five years of skilled employment in the nominated occupation or have an immediate family member living in a designated regional area.
An applicant applying in Victoria would need to meet the eligibility criteria. To ensure there is a demand for the specific expertise in the designated regional area of Victoria, the job offer would need to be located in a designated regional area in Victoria. The applicant’s qualifications, skills and experience would need to be transferrable and suitable in Victoria’s labour market and be committed to a long term settlement in the area. There has to be a current offer of employment in a nominated occupation for a full-time job for at least 12 months in a designated regional area in Victoria. The employer hiring the business must be actively operating for the past two years in the designated regional area of Victoria.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Since the 16th of November 2019, the ACT has officially declared itself a regional area for skilled migration. Therefore, applicants can complete a Home Affairs Skillselect EOI since the 16th of November 2019, but a 491 Canberra Matrix can only be submitted after the 1st of January 2020.
From 2020, if the applicant is a resident of Canberra, he/she must be working for an employer in the ACT in Canberra for a minimum of 3 months before the Matrix submission date. The applicant must be working a paid job, with a minimum of at least 20 hours per week, and the employer must be operating in the ACT for at least one year. If the applicant is self-employed, then the applicant must have ACT business activities for a minimum of 12 months before the Matrix submission date and with a taxable income of at least $500 per week.
Overseas applicants need to have at lease proficient if not superior English and have 12 months of continued experience within the past three years in the nominated occupation as well as the relevant skills.
Western Australia (WA)
There are two streams for an applicant to be able to receive an invitation for a 491 visa namely;
General Stream, where there is a need to meet DHA requirements, you must have a nominated occupation on the Western Australian skilled occupation list, reach the minimum English requirements. You must have the necessary work experience required, have a contract of employment and demonstrate sufficient settlement funds if the applicant is applying outside Australia.
Graduate stream is similar to the General stream except the nominated occupation must be under the Graduate occupation list and there needs to proof of a Bachelor and other higher degree studies.
Northern Territory (NT)
The applicant needs to have evidence that he/she can easily be employed in NT. The applicant needs to show the reasons why the applicant matches the job criteria based on the advertisements as well as proof of ads. Reports from NT employers proving that the applicant has the skills and experiences for the occupation and an offer of employment are necessary.
If the applicant lives in the NT, there needs to be bank statements and payslips from the recent six months. Overseas applicants need to have evidence of full-time employment in the nominated occupation for at least a year or proof of Australian qualifications and evidence that the applicant has undertaken necessary research about residing in the NT.
1. Tasmanian graduate
The applicant needs to have graduated from a registered tertiary education institute in Tasmania, lived in the state for a minimum period of a year during their studies, and are currently living in Tasmania with proof a genuine commitment to continue living Tasmania.
2. Working in Tasmania
The applicant needs to have been working Tasmania for the past six months (not necessarily in the nominated occupation) and be currently living in Tasmania with proof a genuine commitment to continue living in Tasmania. The employer needs to have an active business in Tasmania for at least the past year, and there needs to be a genuine position in the company for the applicant.
3. Overseas applicant
The applicant needs to show that their nominated occupation is in the Tasmanian Skilled Occupation List (TSOL) or he/she has received a formal job offer for the nominated occupation in Tasmania. The first path requires the applicant or any dependants not to be living in Tasmania for the past 12 months. The applicant must have the necessary English skills or hold a passport from either the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or New Zealand. The applicant must meet the requirements listed in the TSOL, researched about the labour market in Tasmania (if the occupation is under High Demand, the applicant would just need to meet the requirements) and have sufficient funds to migrate to Tasmania.
The second path only requires the applicant or any dependants to have lived in Australia for the past year, the employer to have an active business operating for at least the past 12 months and a genuine need for the employing the applicant.
4. Family in Tasmania
If an immediate family member meets has been either an Australian Permanent Resident or citizen and residing in Tasmania for the at least the past 12 months and agrees to sponsor the applicant in gaining employment in Tasmania, the applicant will be eligible.
5. Small Business Owner
The applicant must be living in Tasmania during the time of lodgement and have a business operating in Tasmania for the past six months. The business must also meet the minimum taxable income, and the applicant must prove a structured business plan.
South Australia (SA)
The eligible applicant for a 491 visa in South Australia would need to prove that there is a commitment to living in SA long term. The applicant must be under 45 years at the time of nomination, have an occupation listed on the State Nominated Occupation List, have a positive skill assessment test, have a year of work experience within the last three years. The applicant must also meet the minimum English requirements unless the applicant is a passport holder of United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland. The applicant must have the financial ability to migrate to SA and settle in the state and have an Expression of Interest that meets the Department of Home Affairs requirement.
What is a skilled occupation?
A 491-skills occupation list includes all types of;
- Project managers
- Clinical directors
(Click here for the full occupation list: www.immi.homeaffairs.gov.au)
How many visa points is needed to apply for a 491 visa?
A score of 65 points is required to be eligible for a 491 visa. Points will be calculated based on age, qualifications, work experience both within and out of Australia, any Australian study and English points will apply as well.
If a state or territory government agency nominates an individual or sponsored by a family member who lives in regional Australia to reside and be employed in regional Australia, which is also an essential requirement with a 491 visa, the applicant will gain 15 points.
Applicants would earn a further 10 points for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications.
There are an additional 10 points if the applicant is either a skilled spouse or de facto partner with a relevant skills assessment and competent English or if the applicant is without a spouse or de facto partner.
If an applicant’s partner has competent English that would include an additional 5 points and the partner could be over 45 years of age and not need a skills assessment.
What is the age limit?
Applicants need to be under 45 yearsold to receive an invitation to apply for the visa. However, the applicant can apply for the visa after turning 45 years of age if he/she has received an invitation prior. If the applicant has submitted an EOI but has not received an invitation, he/she will not be applicable to apply for the 491 visa.
Do I need a Skills Assessment?
For an applicant to get their skills assessed, it would need to be determined by a relevant assessing authority appropriate to the skilled occupation. Skilled assessments are valid either three years from their issue date or the expiry date on the assessment. Medical or legal practitioners are generally exempt from skill assessments.
What are the English Requirements?
Five levels of English are used to determine if an applicant is eligible for Skilled and Employer-Sponsored visas, namely, Superior English, Proficient English, Competent English, Vocational English and Functional English.
A 491 visa requires a minimum level of competent English. To achieve a level of competent English, the applicant would either need to get either of the following:
- A valid passport from either United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or Republic of Ireland and the applicant is a citizen in the country
- A score of 6 in listening, reading, writing and speaking each in IELTS or
- A minimum of 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 in speaking in TOEFL iBT or
- A score of 50 in listening, reading, writing and speaking each in PTE academic or
- A score of B in listening, reading, writing and speaking each in OET or
- A score of 169 in listening, reading, writing and speaking each in Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test.
Regarding the IELTS, OET, TOEFL iBT and PTE tests, they would be valid for up to three years after the test date to be used in the visa application. The CAE test would need to be taken either on or after the 1st of January 2015 and before lodging the visa application.
All Applicants would need to meet the health and character requirements unless exempt from it.
Can family members be included in the 491 visa?
De facto or Married parnter, as well as dependent children including stepchildren, can be included in the 491 visa. Spouses or de facto partners of either the same or opposite sex must be;
- At least 18 years of age at the time of lodging an application
- Have a genuine and continuing relationship
- Be mutually committed to one another to share a life excluding all others as well as life together (or do not live separately permanently).
- If the applicant and his/her partner are in a de facto relationship, they cannot be related by family.
For children/stepchildren (from a current or previous relationship) to eligible, they must not be married, engaged or have a de facto partner and either be under;
- Eighteen years of age, over 18 years of age,
- But under 23 and dependent on the applicant or his/her partner,
- Above 23 years of age but is unable to make a living due to physical or cognitive limitations.
- The child is dependent on the applicant or their partner or a dependent child of a child eligible based on the above.
As a regional visa, the 491 does entitle holders of the visa to be eligible for Medicare during their period of stay.
DOHA assesses applications on a case-by-case basis, exact processing times can vary due to individual circumstances including but are not limited to:
- the time it take for the applicant respond to any requests for additional information sent by The Department of Home Affairs
- time it takes to receive further information from external agencies, particularly concerning health, character, and national security requirements.
- if the applicant has lodged a complete application, including all necessary supporting documents
How can No Borders Assist?
No Borders Migration have successfully assisted clients for the 491 visa and understand the complexities of each case. If you request assistance with your up-coming 491 visa application, click here for a free consultation to speak to a legal professional now.