The regional sponsor migration scheme enables eligible applicants to either be nominated by a state or territory government, or be sponsored by a relative who resides in a designated regional area for the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. You can also be sponsored by a regional employer for a Subclass 484 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa.
In this article, we explore the regional visa sponsorship options available, why you might like to choose South Australia for a skilled regional sponsorship visa, how you may qualify for a South Australian regional sponsorship visa, as well as an overview of the migration points test and how it applies to the subclass 491 visa.
Regional Visa Sponsorship Options
Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa
The Subclass 491 visa is a provisional regional sponsorship visa which provides a pathway to permanent residence after three years, provided that you satisfy prescribed criteria. It requires an approved sponsorship by a State or Territory Government. Alternatively, an eligible family member who is usually resident in a designated regional area of Australia may sponsor you for this visa. It is important to be aware that as a subclass 491 vida holder, you are required to live and work in a designated regional area of Australia.
Eligible family members may apply to accompany you to Australia as dependent visa applicants.
One of the benefits of a subclass 491 visa is that you will receive an extra 15 points towards the migration points test, on account of the regional visa sponsorship. The visa term is five years.
Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa
Another regional sponsor migration scheme option available is the Subclass 494 visa, which is a provisional visa. The subclass 494 regional visa sponsorship visa provides a pathway to permanent residence with the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa after three years, if you meet certain requirements at that time. As with the subclass 494 visa, as a subclass 491 visa holder, you are required to live and work in a designated regional area of Australia, You must also be sponsored by a regional employer. The term of the subclass 494 regional sponsorship visa is five years.
Eligible family members may apply to accompany you to Australia as dependent visa applicants under the subclass 494 regional sponsor migration scheme visa.
Another Option For State Sponsorship?
Before we continue our discussion on why you might like to consider South Australia as a pathway to permanent residence in Australia, it is important to note that if you are willing to commit to living in South Australia for at least two years, another option you could consider is a Subclass 190 Skilled (Nominated) visa. This is a permanent residence visa which, like the subclass 491 visa discussed above, is state and territory government nominated, but it does not restrict you to living, working and studying in only regional parts of Australia. Therefore, it is open to all participating state and territory governments in Australia.
Options In South Australia
In the case of South Australia, both the subclass 491 and 190 visa options are available. Nominations under the subclass 190 visa program for South Australia are administered by Skilled and Business Migration South Australia (SA), the same state government agency which oversees the regional state sponsorship nomination approval process for the subclass 491 and 494 visas above.
Why Should You Consider A South Australian Skilled Regional Sponsorship Visa?
You may ask, why choose South Australia for skilled regional sponsorship? What sets South Australia apart from other parts of Australia?
South Australia offers a mix of a relaxed lifestyle, diverse landscape and opportunities for you and your family to experience. It is a state which offers employment opportunities and highly regarded educational institutions at all levels, from primary and secondary school to universities. It is also generally more affordable to live in South Australia, especially in regional areas. Median house prices and rents are generally lower than in some other parts of Australia, allowing you to save more of your money.
South Australia offers a rich cultural experience, as a producer of premium food and wine. Unique landscapes also mean you and your family can explore the diverse sights and sounds of this unique part of the world. Playing and watching sport is a popular activity in South Australia, particularly in regional parts of the state. This provides a great opportunity to get involved in your local community. Safety is also a priority for the state, which means you can feel secure for yourself and your family.
Convenience and ease of getting around are another plus of living in South Australia, with a variety of transport options available to get you moving and to your destination as quickly as possible. A top healthcare system with superior medical professionals and facilities also means you can rest assured that if or a family member gets sick, high quality care is available.
Regional areas in South Australia add another dimension to this great state, with a combination of bush, coastal and outback areas for you to see and explore. These areas also offer diverse lifestyle options should you choose to settle in country South Australia
As a regional sponsorship visa holder, you will also have access to information and support services provided by the South Australian State Government to assist you to settle and find.
How Can You Qualify For A South Australian Regional State Sponsorship Visa?
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa
To be eligible to apply for a subclass 491 state regional visa sponsorship in South Australia, you will need to satisfy Department of Home Affairs requirements governing the lodgement and grant of the subclass 491 visa, in addition to the requirements for nomination approval, as set by Skilled and Business Migration SA.
Applying for a subclass 491 visa consists of the following three steps:
- The first step is to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the Department. An EOI is not a visa application but rather, conveys to Immigration that you would like to apply for the subclass 491 visa. It is important to be aware that submitting an EOI will not result in the grant of a Bridging Visa. Therefore, if you intend to lodge your EOI in Australia, you will need to carefully consider the timing of this to ensure that you hold a valid visa at that time;
- At the same time as submitting your EOI, you must also separately apply to Skilled and Business Migration SA for nomination approval. You will need to meet the nomination requirements as set by the South Australian government, in addition to the requirements that must be satisfied for visa approval by the Department, to receive nomination approval. Be aware that each State and Territory Government sets their own requirements for granting nomination approval, and sometimes these can be more extensive than those prescribed by the Department (for example, you may need to achieve a higher English language competency or have a certain minimum amount of skilled work experience to qualify for state nomination);
- If your EOI and nomination applications are approved, you will be invited to apply for the subclass 491 visa, which you must lodge with Immigration within 60 days.
The requirements to be satisfied in order to qualify for a subclass 491 visa include achieving a minimum score of 65 in a prescribed points test. You must also nominate a skilled occupation on a specified skilled occupation list and obtain a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation. You may need to obtain registration, membership or licencing in your occupation before you can work in your nominating state or territory. Other requirements include meeting an English language requirement (which may require you to complete a specified English language test and achieve a minimum specified result) and an age-based limit. Health and character criteria also apply.
Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa
Note that the application process for the subclass 494 employer sponsored regional visa is different to that which is outlined above. In that case, there is no test points applied but rather, a three step process requiring a sponsorship, nomination and visa application (the sponsorship requires renewal every five years so in cases where it is still valid, you will only require a nomination application to be lodged by your sponsorsing employer, and a visa application on your own behalf).
This means your sponsoring employer must meet prescribed requirements to be eligible to nominate the skilled occupation, and you too must meet a set of criteria for the subclass 494 regional sponsor migration scheme visa before you apply.
What Is The Migration Points Test?
The points test consists of several attributes which are each awarded a specified number of points. These include your age, highest qualification held, overseas and Australian skilled employment experience (work experience gained in Australia are awarded higher points), English language and study in regional Australia. One of the added benefits of applying for regional state sponsorship is that you will receive an additional 15 points towards your points test.
Achieving the minimum base score of 65 points does not necessarily mean that you are guaranteed to receive an invitation to apply for the subclass 491 regional visa sponsorship. The process for issuing invitations varies, depending on whether you apply for state nomination or if you are seeking to be sponsored by an eligible relative. For the state nominated option, the state or territory government to whom you apply will assess your application in accordance with their own specific nomination requirements and will issue nomination approvals to suitable applicants. Each State and Territory releases data on the number of nomination approvals granted each month. For a summary of the latest results published by the Department, please refer to our Skill Select Invitation Round article.
For the family sponsored option, invitations are assessed by Immigration under a separate process, referred to as ‘invitation rounds’ and which occur once per month. The allocation of invitations under this visa pathway is a highly competitive process for EOI applicants. Further information on the results for the latest invitation round as their apply to the family sponsored option can be viewed in the article referred to above.
Get More Information
Skilled Regional State Sponsorship Visa
For further information on the subclass 491 visa, please see the following articles:
Skilled State Sponsorship Visa
Also refer to our Australian Permanent Resident Visa Case Study article to read about a real-life case study where PAX Migration Australia assisted a client to apply for a subclass 190 visa and who, after a long migration journey, was finally granted permanent residence in Australia.
You can read a further case study example in our State Sponsorship Visas In Australia article which explains how a client successfully applying for a state sponsorship visa with PAX Migration Australia’s assistance.
To learn more about applying for a skilled visa, including the subclass 494 regional sponsor migration scheme visa, please see the following articles:
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Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are interested in applying for a visa to Australia, including a regional sponsor migration scheme visa, as being fully informed will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your case. A migration professional can help you to do this. Also be aware that several terms are defined in the migration provisions. It is vital to have a good understanding of these terms and how they apply in practice. Detailed advice about these is beyond the scope of this article and we would therefore recommend that you seek further information in this regard.
For up to date advice on applying for a visa, including a regional sponsorship visa, contact PAX Migration Australia, a leading immigration service providing advice on a range of visas, including a regional visa sponsorship. Contact us for a no obligation discussion on how we may be able to assist you in achieving your migration goals in Australia.