Introducing three new visa subclasses

The Department of Home Affairs is introducing three new visa subclasses, which are set to replace the currently operative Subclasses 187 and 489. Temporary visas, Subclass 494 (Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)) and Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)), will come into play on 16 November 2019, with applications for the repealed subclasses closing on that date. The subsequent permanent visa, Subclass 191, can be applied for in just over 3 years’ time, on 16 November 2022.

The last day for nominations, invitations, and submitting Expressions of Interest for the Subclasses 187 and 489 is 10 September 2019. Applications for these visas can be lodged any time up until 11.59pm on 15 November 2019.

It is important to note that transitional 457 or 482 workers will still be able to apply for the Subclass 187 visa after it has been closed, under the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Transitional 457 workers are persons who held or had applied for a 457 visa by 18 April 2017, while transitional 482 workers are persons who held or had applied for a 482 visa by 20 March 2019. For non-TRT RSMS applications, nomination applications must have been granted and visa applications must have been lodged before 16 November 2019, or they will be taken to have been withdrawn. For such applications, Skilling Australia Fund levies will be refunded on request.

Subclass 491

The Subclass 491 visa will replace the Subclass 489 visa, and will have a five-year term. Applications will be subject to the General Skilled Migration points test.

Applicants for the Subclass 491 visa must:

  • Hold either a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B, or C;
  • Score a minimum of 65 points in the GSM points test;
  • Nominate a skilled occupation from the relevant skilled list;
  • Be less than 45 years of age at the time of application or be exempt;
  • Have at least competent English or be exempt;
  • Declare that they have a genuine intention to live, work and study in a designated regional area.

Requirements for sponsorship include:

  • Sponsors can be a State, Territory, or relative of the applicant or applicant’s spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen; and
  • Sponsors who are relatives must be usually resident in a designated regional area, and must provide a signed undertaking that they will assist their sponsored relative financially, with accommodation, and to participate in the AMEP English language program for 2 years.

The following conditions will be applied to all Subclass 491 visas:

  • Condition 8578 – the Department must be notified within 14 days of any change to the visa holder’s residential address, email address, phone number, passport details, address of employer, or address or location of a position where they are employed; and
  • Condition 8579 – the applicant must live, work, and study only in a designated regional area listed at the time the visa was granted; and
  • Condition 8580 – if requested, the visa holder must provide evidence to the Department within 28 days of the date of request of their residential address, address of each employer, address of each location of each position they are employed in, or address of an educational institution they are attending; and
  • Condition 8581 – if requested, the visa holder must attend an interview with the Department.

Subclass 494

The Subclass 494 visa will replace the Subclass 187 visa, and will have a five-year term.

Employers will be required to become standard business sponsors or labour agreement holders, and a nomination application must be lodged along with the visa application. Sponsor obligations also apply.

Requirements for employer sponsorship under Subclass 494 include:

  • Only full-time positions can be nominated positions;
  • The position in question must be likely to exist for at least 5 years and must be located in a designated regional area;
  • The position associated with the occupation must be genuine;
  • The occupation must be on the relevant skilled list;
  • Labour Market Testing must be undertaken;
  • The Skilling Australia Fund will apply, with businesses being liable for a $3000 AUD contribution if their annual turnover is less than $10 million or a $5000 AUD contribution otherwise;
  • The employment agreement must not include any express exclusion of the possibility of extending the employment period;
  • Only in very limited circumstances will exemptions to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold apply in respect of the applicant’s earnings;
  • Nominations will need to go through a prescribed body before being approved, and Annual Market Salary Rate must be determined; and
  • The nomination must be matched to the stream and occupation of their related nomination application.

Applicants for the Subclass 494 visa must:

  • Hold either a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B, or C;
  • Have a full skill assessment or be exempt;
  • Have a genuine intention to perform the nominated occupation;
  • Be less than 45 years of age at the time of application or be exempt;
  • Have at least 3 years of full-time work experience at the required skill level in their nominated occupation at the time of application or be exempt; and
  • Have at least competent English or be exempt.

The aforementioned conditions that apply to the Subclass 491 visa will be applied to all Subclass 494 visas, along with the following condition:

  • Condition 8608 – the applicant must not cease employment with their sponsor for more than 90 days.

It is important to note that any change to the ANZSCO occupation, such as a promotion, will require a new nomination and a new visa. The 3-year period restarts on the grant of the new visa.

Subclass 191

In order to be eligible to apply for a Subclass 191 visa, the applicant and all secondary applicants must have held either a Subclass 494 or a Subclass 491 visa for at least 3 years and complied with all visa conditions, including condition 8579. Applications for this visa will open on 16 November 2022, as this is the first date that applicants can become eligible.

The taxable income of the primary applicant must also exceed a certain threshold, which will be known closer to the date of implementation. Evidence of this must be provided in the form of an Income Tax Assessment Notice for each financial year.

It is important to note that unlike its predecessor, the Subclass 191 visa application does not require a nomination to be lodged beforehand by a business. Subclass 494 visa holders will therefore be able to apply for the Subclass 191 visa once conditions are met without the involvement of their employer.

GSM Points Test changes

Changes have also been implemented to the points test, which will make it easier for certain applicants to meet the minimum score requirement.

These are as follows:

  • Nomination by a state or territory government or sponsorship by an eligible family member has increased from 10 to 15 points
  • A Master’s degree by research or a Doctorate degree from an Australian education institution that included at least two academic years in a relevant STEM field has increased from 5 to 10 points
  • Having a partner with skill qualifications now provides 10 points instead of 5
  • Having a partner with competent English who is not eligible for skill qualification points will provide 5 points, previously this did not provide any points at all
  • Applicants will receive 10 points if they not having a partner migrating with them, for example if they are single or their partner is already an Australian citizen or permanent resident


If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for a Subclass 491 or Subclass 494 visa, or how these changes may affect your currently held or processing 457 or 482 visa, please feel free to get in touch with us on 1300 083 843 or make an enquiry online.

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