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Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa (491)

Get an Australian 491 visa

A Skilled Work Regional (provisional) (subclass 491) visa is a visa that allows skilled workers who are nominated by a State (Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania) or Territory (the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory) government, or an eligible family member, to live and work in regional Australia. A SWR visa has two streams, covering both the primary applicant as well as any subsequent family members who are also applying for visa.

If applicants or their families wish to explore their options and eligibility to apply for a SWR visa, they can contact an Australian MIgration Agent today who is able to provide information and guidance.

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What is a subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa?

The SWR visa is a skilled visa that is designed to address skilled regional worker shortages around Australia. The SWR visa is a points tested visa and provides skilled workers the opportunity to work and live in regional Australia for up to five years. The SWR visa does have a pathway to Australian permanent residency, subject to an applicant’s eligibility, under the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (subclass 191) visa.

As the SWR visa is subject to a points test, in order to apply for this visa, applicants require an invitation to apply from Skillselect (this provides applicants an indicative points score based on the information provided). Furthermore, applicants are also required to be nominated for the visa from either an Australian State, Territory Government agency or eligible family member.

If seeking nomination from a State or Territory, applicants should check the relevant criteria for nominations from those particular state authorities.

Applicants are advised that where they are unable to find an Australian employer to sponsor their visa application (under a different skilled visa class such as a Temporary Skills Shortage (subclass 482) visa), a SWR visa provides an opportunity to work in Australia and apply to become an Australian permanent resident. Applicants must keep in mind however that they will be required to work and live in a regional area.

Additionally, unlike other skilled visa types (such as a TSS (subclass 482) visa), there are no requirements on who applicants under a SWR visa need to work for.

Moreover, primary applicants are able to include their family members in their application or can add them to their application at a later date. The visa that these family members receive will provide them with work and study rights, however they will also need to live in a regional area for the duration of their visa.

Should applicants have questions about whether this visa is suitable for their circumstances or if they would like assistance in making an application for themselves or their family, contact an Australian Migration Agent who can provide advice and assist applicants in the visa process.

Eligibility criteria for a subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa

To make a SWR visa application, the applicant must meet the following eligibility criteria set by the Department of Home Affairs:

  • The applicant must lodge an Expression of Interest in SkillSelect with a minimum of 65 points
  • The applicant must have received an invitation to apply for the visa from SkillSelect following the points test
  • The applicant must receive a nomination from an Australian State, Territory Government agencies or eligible relatives (Nominations from an Australian State or Territory Government agency have specific requirements)
  • The applicant must be under the age of 45 when the invitation is received
  • The applicant must have a suitable skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority (the outcome of which must be a positive skills assessment)
  • The applicant’s occupation must fit an occupation on the skilled occupation lists if seeking a Government-based nomination.
  • The applicant’s occupation must fit an occupation on the medium skilled occupation list or long term skilled occupation list if seeking a family member nomination
  • The applicant must have all the necessary qualifications, registrations and licences required for the occupation
  • The applicant must meet the relevant English language requirements
  • The applicant must meet the health and character requirements

An Australian Migration Agent can provide advice to potential applicants regarding their potential eligibility and assist them in understanding or meeting the requirements for a SWR visa.

Benefits of the 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa

While the SWR visa is not permanent, it can provide a pathway for skilled workers to come to Australia and seek permanent residence after three years. Furthermore, there are less restrictions placed on a SWR compared to other skilled visas. Some of the other benefits of a SWR visa include: 

  • Faster application processing (due to regional demand)
  • The ability of family members to be added to the primary applicant’s application either when the application is initially lodged or at a later date.
  • Access to Australia’s public healthcare scheme (Medicare)
  • Unrestricted travel to and from Australia during the visa period

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Subclass 491 Visa checklist

In the process of applying for a SWR visa, it is essential that on top of the application form itself, applicants should also lodge various documents and relevant evidence to support their claims.

Given the unique circumstances of each applicant, it is challenging to precisely identify an exhaustive list of documents required for every application. However, below are some of the common documents that should accompany most applications:

  • Passport
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Divorce/death certificate for previous spouse (if applicable)
  • Proof of name change (if applicable)
  • National identity card (if applicable)
  • Birth certificate (for applicants under 18)
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Current CV or resume
  • Evidence of relevant qualifications
  • Skills assessment outcome
  • Evidence of registration or licencing (if applicable)
  • Reference letters from current and former employers
  • A declaration from your sponsor
  • Evidence that your relative is eligible to sponsor you
  • Evidence that your relative is living in regional Australia
  • Military service record or discharge papers (if applicable)
  • Medical checks 
  • Police clearance certificates from former countries of residence 
  • English test results

How the 491 Skilled Work Regional Visa works

The SWR visa application process occurs over three different stages

Firstly, all primary applicants for a SWR visa will be required to undergo a suitable skills assessment administered by the relevant assessing authority. The occupation that the skills assessment is for must be on either the short term, medium term or regional skilled occupations lists for applicants seeking an state or territory government nomination, or the medium term skilled occupation list for those seeking an eligible family member nomination. Each skills assessment will have different requirements that need to be met, however, usually applicants will need to provide evidence of their employment in the occupation being assessed

After applicants have received their skills assessment, the second stage of the process is that applications will need to lodge an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect (points test). In this process, an applicant's personal circumstances will be assessed and applicants will be given a points score based on the answers that are provided.  

Following an invitation to apply for a SWR visa, the final stage of the visa application process is making and lodging the application. Applicants are required to apply for the visa within 60 days of receiving the application, with a failure to do so potentially resulting in delays. Applicants should be aware that if they fail to lodge an application in time after two invitations, SkillSelect will remove the applicant’s Expression of Interest. 

Future visa pathways after your 491 visa

Following three years of living and working in regional Australia on a SWR visa, applicants will have a direct pathway to permanent residency. This pathway is through an application under the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (subclass 191) visa. While there are specific eligibility criteria set by the Department for a subclass 191 visa, this typically includes compliance with the visa conditions of the SWR visa. Applicants should be aware that once a subclass 191 visa is granted, visa holders are no longer required to live in regional Australia. Should applicants wish to pursue Australian citizenship after receiving their subclass 191 visa, after one year they may be eligible to apply.

Benefits of using a registered migration agent for your 491 visa

Enlisting the support of a registered migration agent, like an Australian Migration Agent, when making a SWR visa application can greatly assist applicants. While the process appears to be straightforward, applying for an SWR visa is heavily dependent on the policies of the Department. Furthermore, there are also a number of consequential stages that must be satisfied for an applicant to be eligible for a SWR visa. Using our knowledge and experience of Australia’s immigration system, an Australian Migration Agent can help applicants navigate the visa application process with ease, and assist them to make a ‘decision-ready’ application that meets the Department’s requirements. At any stage of the visa application process, an Australian Migration Agent can assist through:

  • Consultation and engagement 
  • Preparation and support
  • Submission and communication
  • Representation and success

Skilled Work Regional visa costs

Applicants should be aware that there are two main costs that are associated with making a SWR visa application.

Administration Fees

The relevant fees for the Department of Home Affairs in relation to a SWR application are as follows:

  • There are no fees associated with lodging an Expression of Interest with SkillSelect
  • Visa stage - application fee $4,640

Applicants should note that the relevant fees for receiving a skills assessment will depend on the relevant assessing authority and are not set by the Department. Usually, these fees range from $600 to $1,200. 

Professional Services Fee

At Australian Migration Agents, we tailor our pricing to accommodate the specific needs of each of our clients, understanding that not every visa application is the same. We offer a fixed-fee structure, providing clarity and foresight to our client about the expenses they should expect in relation to their visa application, as compared to other types of billing methods. Furthermore, we offer our clients various payment methods and payment plans that can provide accessibility to our services despite their financial circumstances.

Visa application steps

The visa application process can be challenging and time-consuming, but our team at Australian Migration Agents handles this daily and understands the requirements needed for successful outcomes. Get in touch to discuss your eligibility and explore the most budget-friendly services available to you.

Book a consultation

Step 1

Consultation and engagement

Organise a consultation time to speak with one of our agents. You can meet with us in person, via Zoom or telephone. Following this, we will send you paperwork that confirms our engagement to represent you.

Step 2

Preparation and submission

We will prepare written submissions in support of your visa application. This will be based on your individual circumstances, and supported by evidence where appropriate. We then submit your application to the relevant body (Department of Home Affairs, courts or tribunal)

Step 3

Representation and success

We will keep you informed about your application, and notify you of the outcome. If you receive an unfavourable outcome and we can reapply, we will!

491 Visa Processing times

How long a visa takes to be processed by the Department can vary based on multiple factors. These factors include potentially avoidable delays that arise when an application is incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate. As the Department evaluates visa applications individually, it can be challenging to predict the timeframe for the application process. 

However, applicants should be aware that the Department does provide a provisional estimated processing time on their official website. For SWR visas under the Australian government nomination pathway, visa applications can take between 9 and 17 months. For SWR visas applied for under the eligible family member pathway, visa applications can take up to 19 months.

To speak to someone regarding how long a visa application may take to be decided upon or for assistance in creating a high quality application, contact an Australian Migration Agent.

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa Considerations

An Australian Migration Agent cannot provide a guarantee that the Department will approve applications that are lodged, as the Department retains sole discretion in regards to the assessment and granting of visas. Nonetheless, Australian Migration Agents are dedicated to assisting applicants compiling strong ‘decision-ready’ applications that meet all requirements set by the Department.

At Australian Migration Agents we are committed to helping applicants at any stage in the application process, so if you require assistance, information or guidance, please contact us.

Australia-wide services

Our skilled team offers in-person and virtual appointments, which means we can provide immigration assistance and advice regardless of where you live in Australia.  

Frequently asked questions

Read our most frequently asked questions

Can I work in any regional area with a 491 visa?

The SWR visa allows applicants to work and live in regional areas throughout Australia. While these areas must be defined as ‘designated regional areas’, this definition encompasses many different regional centres around Australia.

How do I qualify for a 491 visa?

The eligibility criteria for a SWR visa can be found above, but primarily, applicants need to be in an occupation on the relevant list, have a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority and receive an invitation to apply following an Expression of Interest.

Who is an eligible relative for a 491 visa?

An eligible relative that can sponsor a SWR visa application includes an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who has turned 18 years of age. The relative must reside in a designated regional area and must be relate to the primary applicant or their spouse (or de facto partner) as:

  • A Parent
  • A Child or step-child
  • A Sibling, adoptive sibling or step sibling
  • A Aunt or uncle
  • A Nephew or niece
  • A Grandparent
  • A First cousin

How can I get PR after a 491 visa in Australia?

SWR visa holders have a direct pathway to permanent residency through the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (subclass 191) visa, which can be applied for after three years of living in a regional area.

Book a consultation

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