Why Australia 491 visa can be the option to PR for Small business owners


Small Business Owners 491 Visa is a pathway to PR with state / territory nomination under Skilled stream. Regional Provisional skilled visa SC 491 offers small business owners an alternative pathway with state nomination process, where primary applicant still requires to have an occupation from eligible list of occupations. The application can only be lodged / approved in the State / Territory that supports this program.


To apply for this visa, you have to submit an EOI/ROI in selected state you are eligible to apply for the nomination. After nomination is granted, you should lodge all visa documents within 60 days.

The skilled migration program in Australia has been the most popular program used by migrants to obtain permanent residency status in this country. Therefore, Australia receives thousands of applications every year under the skilled migration program from people around the world, which makes the program highly competitive.
For those who are in Australia and cannot meet certain requirements of the states/ territories (for instance, occupations, work experience or job offer), and wish to run a business in that state/ territory, they might consider the Small Business Owner (SBO) pathway to aim for the permanent residency.


Visa SC 491 Small Business Owner stream

This is Provisional visa that allows you to work and live in a regional part of selected state for five years. It is also a pathway to permanent residency. You should meet criteria to be eligible for the SC 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa: lived in region and earned minimum income of $53,900 for at least three years. 


Three staged process for Small Business Owner program:

  • stage 1 – applicant must be in Australia with full work rights visa (e.g. graduate visa after eligible study program or secondary holder of employer sponsored visa)
  • stage 2 – subclass 491 temporary visa for 5 years
  • stage 3 – subclass 191 permanent visa after 3 years of running business / earning eligible income


Common visa SC491 criteria for Small Business Owner stream:

  • Primary applicant is under 45
  • At least Competent English
  • Needs to nominate an occupation from eligible list
  • Compulsory skills assessment
  • Subclass 491 visa only (ACT for 190 visa)
  • Onshore applicants only
  • At least EOI 65 points (including 15 points of state nomination)
  • Applicant to be in Australia at time of application
  • Business should operate in State / Territory where you are seeking state / territory sponsorship


Skilled visa SC491 requirements for applicants


  • Be owner of the business for 6 months
  • 100% ownership
  • Personal income from this business at least 53,900AUD per year before tax
  • Franchise and share-owned business are not acceptable.
  • Service stations, massage clinics and taxi/uber related businesses are also not accepted



  • Full work rights in Australia (for example, SC 485 visa holder or secondary holder of 482 visa)
  • Purchased an existing business in regional Queensland
  • Not available for start-ups or home-based businesses
  • Franchise businesses must have been operating for at least a year prior to purchase
  • 100,000+ AUD invested in the business prior to submitting an EOI
  • 100% ownership
  • Be trading in the business for 6 months prior to application
  • Employ one employee who is an Australian resident working a minimum of 20 hours per week.
  • Provide evidence of sufficient settlement funds



  • For entrepreneurial skilled migrants who have started their own business
  • Business must be established and operating in SA for the last 12 months
  • Candidate must have resided in SA for at least the last 24 months
  • Personal income from this business at least 53,900AUD per year before tax
  • Businesses aligning with the priority Growth State industry sectors will be favoured
  • Businesses employing at least +2 employees on an ongoing full-time basis will be favoured
  • Business structures can include sole trader, partnership, company, and trusts
  • Franchise businesses are ineligible for this stream



  • The majority ownership of the business
  • Business located in the ACT
  • ACT Matrix is applied in the Small Business Owner category
  • Sub tenancy, ride-share, taxi, delivery, courier services are not eligible
  • On-sold business previously used to qualify for ACT nomination is not eligible
  • Nominated occupation does not have to be on the ACT Critical Skills List


Key Takeaways

There are limited options available for business owners based in regional locations. The subclass 491 small business owner pathway may be appropriate for your business.


If you need to discuss your matter please book a time to speak to our experienced Migration Lawyers


Need help with getting Australian Visas or Visa Appealing?


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Tel:  +61 (07) 3876 4000

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We will help you by exploring visa options and securing applications. We will assess the eligibility of the application for a partner visa, and provide you with detailed advice on your chances of success. If you would like to discuss your visa options and evaluate the pathway to permanent residency, please make an enquiry or book a consultation to get expert advice with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Migration Agents/Lawyers on 07 3876 4000 or email: [email protected]


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