The Skilled Regional (Provisional) subclass 489 visa is a temporary skilled visa which will allow you to live, work and study in a specified region of Australia for a period of up to 4 years. To qualify for this visa, you must either be nominated by a State or Territory Government, or be sponsored by an eligible relative who resides in a designated area of Australia.
Eligible family members may accompany you to Australia as dependent visa applicants, either by lodging a combined application with you as the main applicant, or by applying separately as subsequent entrants once you have already been granted your subclass 489 visa.
A subclass 489 visa may provide a pathway to permanent residence via the Skilled Regional subclass 887 visa if you meet specified requirements 2 years following grant of the subclass 489 visa.
To apply for a subclass 489, you must first submit an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) with the Department. This conveys your interest in applying for the visa. If successful, you will receive an invitation to apply for the visa. You will then have 60 days in which to lodge your visa application with Immigration. If you are seeking to be nominated by a State or Territory Government, you are also required to apply separately to the relevant Government agency at the same time as submitting your EOI.
Some of the key requirements which you will need to satisfy in order to qualify for a subclass 489 visa include meeting an age-based limit, English language and skilled occupation criteria, and passing a points test with a minimum score of 65 points. An approved State nomination or sponsorship by an eligible relative will result in an additional 10 points being added to your points score.
The subclass 489 visa consists of two streams, being the First Provisional Visa stream (commonly referred to as the invited pathway) and the Second Provisional Visa stream (also known as the extended stay pathway). In this article, we focus on the former, and provide an overview of the visa conditions and obligations which apply to a subclass 489 visa, valid visa application and lodgement requirements, the process involved in applying for an EOI and for the subclass 489 visa itself, and the likely costs and estimated application processing times which you can expect. We also provide an outline of the key requirements which must be satisfied for nomination approval in South Australia.
If you are interested in exploring your eligibility for a subclass 489 visa under the Second Provisional Visa stream, be aware that you must already hold a subclass 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa to qualify. Also note that these visa subclasses are no longer being granted by the Department (they have been removed from the visa migration programme).
What does a subclass 489 visa allow you to do?
As a subclass 489 visa holder, you will be subject to visa conditions restricting areas within Australia where you are permitted to live, study and work. Approved geographical areas for this purpose will depend on whether you are nominated by a State or Territory Government (where approved areas are regional or low-population growth metropolitan areas), or you are sponsored by an eligible relative (in which case the relevant area is referred to as a designated area).
If you are approved for State nomination, you must live and work in the state or territory which nominated you, and you will also be subject to specified obligations as set by your nominating jurisdiction. An approved sponsorship by an eligible relative will allow you to work in any approved designated area in any state or territory within Australia.
As a subclass 489 visa holder, you can work in any occupation and for any employer (subject to your visa conditions regarding approved geographical areas as noted above). You are therefore not required to work in your nominated occupation.
You will also have unlimited travel rights to enter and depart Australia throughout your subclass 489 visa term.
What are the requirements for lodgement of a valid visa application for a subclass 489 visa?
To lodge a valid application for a subclass 489 visa, the key requirements which you will need to satisfy include the following:
- You must have received an invitation to apply for the subclass 489 visa;
- You must lodge your visa application within the period stated in the invitation, being 60 days;
- You must be under 45 years of age at the time of invitation;
- You must nominate a skilled occupation for which you have a positive skills assessment. The assessment must have been completed by a prescribed skills assessing body for your occupation. Your skilled occupation must be one which is eligible for nomination for the subclass 489 visa (the list of occupations will differ, depending on whether you apply for State nomination, or for Sponsorship by an eligible relative);
- You must either be:
- Nominated by a State or Territory government agency; or
- Sponsored by a person who has turned 18 and who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen; and
- If you are applying for sponsorship by an eligible relative, the following additional requirements apply:
- Your sponsor must be usually resident in a designated area of Australia, which includes the entire states of South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as selected postcodes within New South Wales and Queensland; and
- Your sponsor must be related either to you or to your spouse or de facto partner (if your partner is applying as a dependent visa applicant). Eligible relatives for this purpose include a parent, child, sibling, aunt and uncle.
If you are seeking nomination by a State or Territory government, you must meet the requirements which apply to the State or Territory to which you apply (note that each jurisdiction sets its own criteria for approving subclass 489 nominations). A summary of the number of invitations issued in the period between 1st July 2018 and 31st October 2018 by State and Territory Government agencies can be viewed here).
Approval of sponsorships by an eligible relative member are issued by the Department as part of its monthly invitation rounds (a summary of the latest invitation round which took place on 11th November 2018 can be viewed at the link above).
What are the requirements to qualify for grant of a subclass 489 visa?
The key requirements for subclass 489 visa grant are listed below:
- You must have received an invitation to apply for the subclass 489 visa;
- At the time of invitation, you must have a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation (time periods apply in relation to the validity period of the skills assessment). Be aware that skills assessment requirements vary for medical and legal practitioners;
- You must have competent English at time invitation;
- You must have achieved a minimum score of 65 points in the points test, which must also be the number of points as declared in your submitted EOI (and on which your invitation is based);
- You must have received approval for nomination by a State or Territory Government, or Sponsorship by an eligible relative; and
- You must meet health and character requirements (also applicable to family members).
What are the sponsorship obligations of eligible relatives?
As part of the sponsorship approval, your relative undertakes to assist you, to the extent necessary, financially and in relation to accommodation, for 2 years following the grant of your visa (or from the date of your first entry to Australia if you are offshore at the time of visa grant). This obligation extends to your participation in an Adult Migrant English Program administered by Immigration.
How can you apply for an EOI?
This is to be submitted online on the SkillSelect website.
How can you apply for a subclass 489 visa?
The application must be lodged online on the Department’s website via ImmiAccount, which you can access through your SkillSelect account once you receive an invitation. You must attach all required documents at the time of lodgement of your application.
The application can be lodged either onshore or if you are outside Australia. To make a valid application onshore, you must hold either a substantive visa, or a Bridging A, B or C visa. If you have a ‘No Further Stay’ condition 8503 on your current visa, you will be unable to apply for the subclass 489 visa in Australia (exceptions may apply).
What is the cost to apply for an EOI?
There is no cost to submit an EOI.
What is the cost to apply for a subclass 489 visa?
The current fees to apply for a subclass 489 visa are listed in the table below. These are subject to change, and you should confirm the costs which apply to you before you lodge your application.
|Subclass 489 visa applicant||Application lodgement fees – Additional Applicants|
|Additional applicant aged 18 years and over||$1,875|
|Additional applicant aged under 18 years||$940|
A payment surcharge may also be payable, depending on your payment method.
An ‘additional applicant’ is any eligible family member who is applying as your visa dependent, for example, your partner or child.
The above fees are payable at time of application lodgement (referred to as the first instalment).
If any of your dependent family members who are aged at least 18 years of age at time of lodgement of your application are not able to demonstrate that they have a functional level of English, an additional fee (a second instalment) of $4,890 is payable before the visa can be granted.
The following additional costs may also arise, depending on your individual circumstances:
- Health examinations (and potentially specialist medical fees if medical issues are identified);
- Police certificates (the costs and requirements will vary for each county);
- Official English translations for documents which are in a foreign language; and
- Professional fees if a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer is engaged to assist you with your application.
How long will it take for an invitation for a subclass 489 visa to be issued?
If you are seeking to apply for a State nominated subclass 489 visa, the jurisdiction to which you apply will assess your application to determine whether you satisfy the specified criteria for nomination approval. Be mindful that each State and Territory is allocated a maximum number of places for which it can offer nomination approvals for the subclass 489 visa. If you are considering applying for South Australian State nomination, the current average processing time is 5 weeks (subject to receipt of all your required documents; this process may be delayed if further information and/or documents are required).
Applications for family sponsored subclass 489 visas are assessed by the Department separately to the above process and are issued in monthly invitation rounds. You will see from the summary of the results from the latest invitation round in November 2018 that very few such nominations are approved each month, with 10 invitations having been issued each invitation round since November 2017. Based on these latest results, you will need to achieve a minimum score of 80 points in the points test to receive an invitation (even though the minimum points score needed to submit an EOI is only 65 points). Also be aware that there is currently an approximate wait time of 3-4 months to receive an invitation if you have achieved a score of 80 points.
How long will it take for a decision to be made on your subclass 489 visa application?
The current processing time for the subclass 489 visa is approximately 7-8 months (for 75-90% of applications). This is dependent on you providing all the required information and documents with your application. Any gaps in information or documents supplied, or where further clarification is required, will likely result in delays in processing your application.
What are the requirements to qualify for nomination approval in South Australia?
You will need to apply to Immigration South Australia (‘Immigration SA’) if you are seeking to be nominated by the South Australian Government for a subclass 489 visa.
To qualify for nomination approval, you must meet the following key requirements:
- Make a commitment to live and work in South Australia for two years from your date of arrival in the State, with the intention to settle in South Australia long-term;
- Be aged under 45 at time of nomination approval;
- Nominate a skilled occupation which is listed on the State Nominated Occupation List (in certain cases you may be able to access a ‘supplementary occupation’ or ‘special conditions apply’ occupation list). Note that for each nominated occupation, separate eligibility requirements apply for nomination approval.;
- Have a positive skills assessment by a prescribed skills assessing body in your nominated occupation;
- Have a minimum of one-year skilled employment experience within the last three years (for some nominated occupations, there is a higher work experience requirement);
- Meet the minimum English language competency requirement for your nominated occupation as set by Immigration SA (exceptions apply for passport holders from the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada and NZ); and
- Have sufficient funds to settle in South Australia (minimum financial capacity requirements apply, which will vary depending on whether you apply from onshore or outside Australia and if dependent visa applicants are included in your application).
If you are located in Australia but you are not currently residing in South Australia for at least the last 6 months, you will not be eligible to apply for South Australian state nomination.
As part of your commitment to South Australia, you must confirm that you will:
- Register your arrival online with Immigration SA; and
- Supply up-to-date contact details online and complete employment surveys during your first two years in South Australia.
South Australian State nomination features a chain migration pathway which provides access to an expanded list of occupations for which you may seek nomination approval. To qualify for chain migration, you must have an immediate family member permanently residing in South Australia.
You may also be able to access a broader occupation list if you have a minimum of 80 points (quotas apply) or if you are currently working in South Australia.
How do you apply for SA State Nomination?
The application is to be submitted online with Immigration SA at the same time as you lodge your EOI. The current nomination application fee is $200, payable at time of lodgement (a payment surcharge will also apply).
When submitting your EOI, ensure that you select South Australia as your nominating State.
As part of the SA Immigration nomination application process, you must attach all required documents to be considered as part of your nomination application. Ensure that you check the Immigration SA documentary requirements as they apply to your circumstances. Failing to provide all required information and documents (and in the correct format) can result in processing delays.
If your application for State nomination is successful, you will receive an invitation to apply for a subclass 489 visa from the Department. You will then have 60 days to lodge your visa application with Immigration.
In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the visa conditions and obligations which apply to a subclass 489 visa, valid visa application and lodgement requirements, the process to apply for an EOI and for the subclass 489 visa itself, and the likely costs and estimated application processing times which you can expect. We also provide an outline of the key requirements which must be satisfied for nomination approval in South Australia.
Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We have also referred to several terms which are defined in the migration provisions (and whose meanings may differ from their ordinary usage). We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for any visa class, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this.
For up to date advice on the subclass 489 visa process and requirements, including South Australian State sponsorship, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.