The Australian 491 Visa

The Australian 491 visa, also known as the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa, is an excellent option for skilled workers wishing to live and work in regional Australia. This visa is designed to encourage migration to designated regional areas, thereby supporting the growth and development of these regions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding the 491 visa and its benefits.

Key Benefits of the 491 Visa

With the 491 visa, you can:

Stay in Australia for 5 years: The visa allows you to live in Australia for five years from the date of grant.

Live, work, and study in a designated region: You are required to live and work in a designated regional area, which supports regional growth.

Unlimited travel: You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you wish while your visa is valid.

Pathway to permanent residence: If eligible, you can apply for permanent residence through the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) after three years.

Designated Regional Areas

You and all members of your family unit included in the visa must live, work, and study in designated regional areas of Australia. If your nomination is withdrawn, you will not be granted the visa. These regional areas include but are not limited to New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.

Pathways to Permanent Residence

Holders of the 491 visa may apply for the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) after meeting the requirements, including holding the 491 visa for at least three years and fulfilling income and residency criteria. During the initial three-year period, you cannot apply for other permanent visas such as the subclass 820 (Partner) visa, subclass 132 (Business Talent) visa, subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme) visa, subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)) visa, subclass 189 (Skilled (Independent)) visa, subclass 190 (Skilled (Nominated)) visa, or subclass 858 (Global Talent) visa.

Duration of Stay

The 491 visa is a temporary visa valid for five years. You cannot extend this visa but can explore other visa options if you wish to stay longer.

Including Family Members

You can include members of your family unit in your visa application. Family members must meet health and character requirements. If your partner or dependent children are not included in the application, you must provide reasons, such as their holding Australian citizenship or permanent residency.


The visa application fee starts from AUD4,640 for the main applicant. Additional charges apply for each accompanying family member, and there may be an extra charge for applicants over 18 with less than functional English (the second instalment fee). Additional costs may include health checks, police certificates, and biometrics.

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Application Process

You can apply for the 491 visa from inside or outside Australia, provided you are not in immigration clearance at the time of application or decision. If applying from within Australia, you must hold a substantive visa or a bridging visa (subclass 010, 020, or 030).

Processing Times

Visa processing times vary based on individual circumstances, such as the completeness of your application and the time taken to perform necessary checks. For indicative processing times, you can use the visa processing time guide tool.

Your Obligations

You and your family members must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws. This includes living, working, and studying in designated regional areas.


While the visa is valid, you can travel in and out of Australia as often as you like. However, time spent outside Australia does not extend the visa’s validity.

Nomination and Sponsorship

To apply for the 491 visa, you must be nominated by an Australian state or territory government agency or sponsored by an eligible relative. States and territories have their criteria for nominations, so contact the relevant agency for details. Eligible relatives must be over 18, usually resident in a designated area, and be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

Submit an EOI in SkillSelect to be considered for the 491 visa. If you score enough points, state and territory government agencies can see your EOI and may nominate you. If sponsored by an eligible relative, the Department may invite you to apply for the visa in an invitation round.

Skills Assessment and Points Test

To be eligible, you need a suitable skills assessment for your nominated occupation, obtained within three years before your invitation. You must score at least 65 points on the points test, which considers factors like age, qualifications, English language ability, professional experience, prior learning, and more.

The Skills Points Test

Australia awards points to determine the suitability of potential skilled migrants.

The minimum required to apply to emigrate is 65 points.


18-24 years = 25 points

25-32 years = 30 points

33-39 years = 25 points

40-44 years = 15 points

English Language Skills

Competent = 0

Proficient = 10

Superior = 20

British & Irish citizens are considered competent

Skilled Employment

Less than 3 years = 0 points

3-5 years = 5 points

5-8 years = 10 points

8+ years = 15 points


Doctorate = 20 points

Bachelors Degree = 15 points

Diploma or Apprenticeship = 10 points

Partners Skills

Qualified with skills in demand and under 45 years  = 10 Points

Competent English = 5 points

You are single = 10 points

Miscellaneous Points

Studied in Australia = 5 points

Completed a professional year in Australia = 5 points

Qualified in a community language = 5 points

Additional Points by Visa Stream

189 Visa

No extra points available

190 Visa

5 extra points

For those nominated by a State Government 

491 Visa

15 extra points

For those nominated by a state government and willing to live in that state for three years

Improving Your Points Score

Several factors can enhance your points score:

English Language Proficiency: Achieving a superior level in an English test can add significant points.

Professional Experience: Documenting relevant work experience accurately can improve your score.

State Sponsorship: Additional points are awarded for state or territory nomination.


The 491 visa offers skilled workers a valuable pathway to living and working in regional Australia, with the potential for permanent residency. Given its requirements and benefits, preparing a strong application is essential. By understanding the process and meeting all criteria, you can take the first step towards a rewarding future in Australia. Contact us today for expert guidance on your journey with the 491 visa.

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