Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)

Subclass 491 Visa Option in Regional Queensland for Small Business owner pathway (‘SBO’)

Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (‘BSMQ’) was recently open for Business Innovation and Investment Program and Skilled Program which included the Subclass 491 Small Business Owners (‘SBO’) pathway.

The opening of the programs was brief and those who had satisfied the eligibility criteria were able to submit their EOIs on time for BSMQ’s further consideration for an invitation to apply for visa in the near future.

This article will focus on the SBO pathway as it is a very attractive option for those onshore who are already running a business or have ambitions to start a business in Regional Queensland, especially, where those candidates struggle to achieve high points for a more direct PR option such as Subclass 189, either because of their age, English, work experience or qualifications.

The current requirement of general Subclass 190 or Subclass 491 in Queensland, that candidates for those Subclasses must have worked for either 3 or 6 months in the nominated occupation in a specified Regional area, is also a huge challenge for some whose roles may have been made redundant or such that the role is so niche that it is extremely difficult even just to find a job to begin employment with.

The major benefit of the SBO pathway is that candidates for this pathway will generally have more control over their own situations, especially as they do not need to rely on their employers or go out of their way in order to achieve the cut-off 95 points.

BSMQ’s initiatives in creating this pathway were to reward small business owners in regional Queensland for investing in the local business community and essentially provide employment opportunities for local Australians, so a generous amount of support and leniency has been given to candidates to qualify for this option.

To be eligible for the SBO pathway, candidates must satisfy the Department of Home Affairs (‘DOHA’) own criteria for a Subclass 491 visa as well as the SBO pathway to have run a business that satisfies the separate eligibility criteria set by BSMQ.


DOHA 491visa eligibility criteria 

Candidates must satisfy that they:

  • Have a points test result of 65 or higher, inclusive of state nomination points;
  • Have a positive skills assessment in the nominated occupation (LIN 19/051);
  • Be under 45 years of age;
  • Meet the minimum English language requirement of COMPETENT, unless a higher level is required by the skills assessing authority; and
  • Submit additional documents if invited to lodge an application for a subclass 491 visa.


Changes in Subclass 491 – SBO Pathway Eligibility Criteria

BSMQ criteria for the SBO pathway require that you must:

  • Have an occupation on HA’s Legislative instrument (LIN 19/051);
  • Have prior business experience (operating the business successfully for at least 6 months meets this criteria), qualifications to successfully run the business, or previous family-run business experience;
  • Be on a visa that allows full-time work and operation of the business for a minimum of 35 hours per week;
  • Have purchased an existing business in regional Queensland (Note: not available for start-ups or home based businesses, franchise businesses must have been operating for at least a year prior to purchase);
  • Invested a minimum of $100,000 in the business prior to submitting an EOI;
  • Have 100% ownership of the business (partnerships or joint ventures not eligible);
  • Be trading in the business for 6 months prior to application;
  • Employ one (1) employee who is an Australian resident, working a minimum of 20 hours per week. Please note: an Australian resident for 491-SBO purposes is an Australian permanent resident, Australian citizen or New Zealand citizen on a subclass 444 Special Category visa;
  • Provide evidence of sufficient settlement funds.

The biggest advantage of this pathway is that, whilst BSMQ specifies major components in detail like 100% ownership of the business, the location of business, and ultimately, the minimum amount of funds that must go into investing in purchasing an existing business, it does not specify what type of business the candidates must run.

In other words, candidates who have a positive skills assessment as Chefs or Restaurant managers are not just limited to purchasing a hospitality business, rather, they can purchase a type of business that they genuinely wish, that is not within the scope of their nominated occupation, giving great freedom on a choice of business to purchase, as long as the above criteria are still satisfied.

The SBO pathway is currently listed on BSMQ’s website as an eligible program, however, the current position of BSMQ is that it the business and skilled programs remind suspended as it will consider the measures announced in the recent Federal Budget as to when BSMQ will open its programs again, in order to enable candidates to submit their EOIs.

So, if you are already running a suitable business in Regional Queensland or you are about to start a business and you wish to be considered for the SBO pathway once BSMQ re-opens the quota, contact us for an eligibility check-up now and also keep an eye out for announcements via #NoBordersMigration


Written by Jay Son


Lawyer / Migration Agent (MARN – 1912572)

Tags:  #491visa #Subclass491 #Skilledregionalvisa #Workregionalvisa #Regionalvisa #Australiavisa

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