How do the 16 November 2019 changes affect my prospects for migration?

On 16 November 2019 changes were made to the requirements for migrating on the basis of skills. In essence:

For skilled migration

  • the temporary regional subclass 489 visa has been replaced by the temporary regional subclass 491 visa
  • the prospects for regional skilled migration have been extended as the designated regional areas cover a larger area than before
  • more overseas students completing studies in Australia will be entitled to regional study points due to the extended designated regional areas
  • new allocated points are available to all candidates for Subclass 189, 190 or 491 visas (except the increased points for regional State or Territory Government sponsorship which are only available to Subclass 491 candidates)

Current subclass 489 visa holders and applicants will still be entitled to transition to the permanent residency Subclass 887 visa after 2 years of living and working in a specified regional area as before. The extended designated regional areas do not apply to Subclass 489 visa holders wishing to satisfy criteria to transition to the Subclass 887 visa.

For regional employer sponsorship

  • Candidates can no longer make application for an RSMS Subclass 187 visa unless they are transitioning from a Subclass 457 or 482 visa
  • Introduction of temporary regional employer sponsored Subclass 494 visa with specific occupation list and following requirements:
    • 3 years’ full time experience (or equivalent part time) in nominated occupation
    • Skills assessment
    • Competent English level
    • Standard Business Sponsorship and Nomination process for regional position
    • Regional Certifying Body process
    • Labour Market Testing
    • More than $53,900pa market salary for position in the region
    • Contract must offer the actual market salary for the position in the region

Transition to permanent residency for Subclass 491 and 494 visa holders

  • Both the Subclass 491 and 494 visas are granted for 5 years
  • Subclass 491 and 494 visa holders are eligible for Medicare and must report to Immigration with changes to residence, contact details, employment, address of each position or educational enrolment.
  • Transition from either the Subclass 491 or 494 visa to permanent residency (the new Subclass 191 visa commencing in 2022) requires at least 3 tax years of living and working in a designated regional area with a minimum threshold income for each tax year – yet to be announced
  • Subclass 491 and 494 visa holders are not eligible to apply for certain visas within the first 3 years of holding the visa including Business Skills, ENS, Partner, Distinguished Talent and subclasses 189 and 190

It remains possible to apply for Subclass 482 visas in the new designated regional areas provided the nominated occupation is approved for this visa. A subclass 482 visa only requires 2 years’ full time experience (or equivalent part time) in the nominated occupation. There is no opportunity to transition to the Subclass 191 permanent residency visa from a Subclass 482 however other means of transitioning remain available.

New Skilled Occupation List for all skilled visa subclasses on Dept of Home Affairs website:

The above does not constitute migration advice to any individual. It does not list all requirements for each visa subclass mentioned or the exemptions that apply. Individual assessment should be sought from a Registered Migration Agent to understand actual prospects for migration.

Current status of State and Territory Government updates for Subclass 491 nomination for skilled migration

New South Wales

Not yet released occupations for Subclass 491


1 January 2020 commencement – all information regarding the commencement currently available.


Occupation lists are available for Subclass 491 nomination. Subclass 190 nominations were closed from 26 November. Consideration for Subclass 491 nomination
only available for EoIs submitted (not updated – newly submitted) from 25 November.


Occupation list is available for Subclass 491 Nomination. Applications for nomination for subclass 491 are open.

South Australia

First week December

Northern Territory

Not open until 9 December

Western Australia

Timetable notes 21 November as first invitations for Subclass 491 nominations however there have been no changes to the 489 terminology on the website and the 2018 occupation list remains.


Applications for nomination for subclass 491 are open.

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