Darwin and the Northern Territory are included as a Designated Regional Area under migration law and therefore qualify for the skilled and employer sponsored visas available under the regional migration program. This does not prevent you from lodging a non-regional visa such as the State or Territory nominated 190 visa or an employer sponsored visa such as the 186 or 482. Living in Darwin simply provides you with additional visa options due to being in a regional area, namely:
- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (subclass 494) visa; and
- Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) visa.
Both visas are temporary but provide a clear pathway to permanent residence after 3 years.
Not only does living in Darwin provide access to these two options but it may also award you additional points for the Northern Territory nominated 190 visa as well as the many other benefits of living in a regional area. If you are currently living in or intending to move to Darwin, then you should consider if you are eligible for either the 491 or the 494 visa and take advantage of living in a regional area.
1. Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)
The 491 visa requires nomination from the Northern Territory Government who invite you to apply for the visa. This invitation is based on the information you provide in your Expression of Interest (EOI) which demonstrates to the Northern Territory government how you meet the criteria for approval.You must meet both the Department’s requirements for the visa and those of the Northern Territory Government. These requirements are subject to change and invitations are issued at the discretion of the Northern Territory Government, meaning that simply meeting the criteria does not guarantee you a nomination.
Different requirements apply depending on whether you are inside or outside of Australia and your occupation should be on the Northern Territory Migration Occupation List. The government also requires that you have good employment prospects in the Northern Territory such as an offer of employment or evidence that your skills and experience meet the needs of Northern Territory employers. Many of the requirements for the 190 visa will apply to the 491 such as the minimum points threshold, English language and skills assessment criteria.
The 491 also includes a family sponsored stream which may benefit those with a family member already residing in a regional of Australia. This does not have to be the same regional area as you and may be in any designated regional area of Australia. If you are eligible under this stream of the 491, then you will not need to be sponsored by the Northern Territory as you will instead be sponsored by your family member.
2. Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 494)
The 494 visa is an employer sponsored visa for those who will be nominated by a regional employer. You must demonstrate at least 3 years experience in your nominated occupation and have a positive skills assessment for the position.
The nomination will need to include the advice of the local Regional Certifying Body (RCB) who advice on the local labour market conditions, the genuine need for the position and the terms and conditions of employment. This is a 5-year visa that provides a pathway to permanent residence after 3 years, during which you must remain with your sponsoring employer and earn at least $53,900 each year. Darwin and the entire Northern Territory is considered regional so your employer may be located anywhere in the Territory to be eligible for this visa.
One of the lesser known aspects of the 494 is the process of the RCB application. The Department cannot approve a 494 nomination without a positive RCB application, but even so, the Department is not bound by the decision of the RCB and are entitled to make their own independent decision.
Due to the unique local knowledge of the RCB, they will consider whether the position can be filled by an Australian citizen or permanent resident in the same local area, whether the sponsoring business has a genuine need for the nominated position and whether the proposed terms and conditions of the position are no less favourable than those that would be offered to an Australian performing the same or equivalent work.
If you are working in Darwin or anywhere in the Northern Territory and your employer is willing to sponsor you, then you may be eligible for the 494 visa and should consider this as an option towards obtaining permanent residence in Australia.
The 491 and 494 visa are great options for those living and working in a regional area of Australia and both provide a direct pathway to permanent residence in Australia. If you believe that you may eligible for either of these visas or would like more information, please contact No Borders Law Group and speak with one our migration lawyers.
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