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New Regional Visas: understand the changes coming in November

The Immigration Department is implementing changes for some Regional Visas expected to take effect on November 16th. Besides some changes in the requirements for applicants, two new types of regional visas will be launched:

  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) – Subclass 491
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) –Subclass 494


They are both temporary visas that can lead to a Permanent visa after the applicant spends 3 years living, working and studying in the regional area. To be able to make the permanent application later, the government will also implement the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa –Subclass 191 which will come into effect in November 2022.

What is a Regional Area?


The definition of a Regional Area has also been reviewed and simplified. According to the Immigration Department, “Most locations of Australia outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are eligible for regional visas”.

Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and other cities such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart will be considered Regional Centres.

And what is the difference between Regional Area and Regional Centre?

From November 2019, international Students living in Regional Centres will be eligible for an additional year in Australia on a Graduate Visa on the post-study work stream, while the Regional Areas will allow students to apply for two years after their studies. Besides that, people living in Regional Areas will also get priority in negotiating DAMAs.

Now, let’s talk about the new visas:

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) – Subclass 491

The Subclass 491 will replace the Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489), with more than 500 positions in the occupation list. They are both very similar, but the most significant changes are related to the visa validity period (which will be 5 years) and the obligation to live, work and study in the regional area for at least the first 3 years.

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) –Subclass 494

The Subclass 494 will replace the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (RSMS) Subclass 187. This is a five-year visa which will include over 700 positions in the occupation list, which is 450 more occupations than those that appear on similar lists for non-regional areas. Some of the visa requirements are:

  • You must receive a full-time job offer for a position in a regional area;
  • The position must be on the relevant occupation list;
  • The salary rate must meet the market standards;
  • You must have at least three years of full time and relevant skilled work experience;
  • You must provide a positive Skills Assessment in the relevant occupation.


The new Subclass 494 no longer guarantees a direct Permanent Residency, but allows the possibility of a new application to be made after three years through the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa –Subclass 191.

Of the 160,000 permanent residence visas issued each year, 9,000 will be Skilled Employer Sponsored (Provisional) and other 14,000 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional). Both of the new visas will have priority processing, according to the Migration Department.