494 Visa: Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa

June 5, 2024
Myer Lipschitz

The Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa is a pathway formed by the Australian government to address skill shortages in regional areas of Australia. This visa allows eligible skilled workers—who are nominated by an Australian employer—to live and work in designated regional areas for up to five years. A key feature of the 494 visa is its potential pathway to permanent residency via the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa, for which holders may become eligible after three years, provided they meet all the necessary requirements.

Employers seeking to sponsor a skilled foreign worker must be operating in a regional area of Australia and have their nomination approved by the relevant Regional Certifying Body. The visa encompasses a broad range of occupations and is designed to benefit both the Australian labour market and the foreign nationals by facilitating long-term contributions to regional economies. For skilled employees, the visa provides the opportunity to integrate into Australian society, whilst contributing their expertise to sectors in dire need of skilled personnel.

The application process requires proof of the necessary skills, qualification assessments, and successful English language tests. Applicants are also bound by both the conditions of their employment and the visa’s stipulations, which help to ensure that the primary focus is the development and support of Australia’s regional communities. In summary, the 494 visa represents Australia’s strategic interest in strengthening regional areas by attracting and retaining global talent.

With recent changes to pathways to permanent residence through employer sponsorship, it is likely this visa pathway will be used less often, and those in occupations that only appear on a 494 visa skills list, and not other lists will utilise this category.

Employers may also offer sponsorship only through this category given the requirement for employees to remain with the employer until they have their permanent residence visa.

Immagine Immigration is here to guide you through the details of the 494 visa in Australia, including eligibility, the application process, conditions, regulations, transition pathways, benefits, and helpful information on community integration

Migrate to Australia

Our immigration lawyers and registered migration agents in Melbourne will be able to find you the best visa for your unique situation. You’ll be in good hands.

Eligibility and Application Process

The Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional or Subclass 494 visa requires a detailed eligibility evaluation and a step-by-step application process. Applicants and their sponsors must strictly abide by the prescribed criteria to ensure a successful application.

Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa Details
Category Details
Eligibility – Under 45 years of age
– Competent English
– Nominated by an approved sponsor
– Occupation on a relevant skilled list
– Meet skill level, health, and character requirements
Skills Assessment and Occupation Lists – Must have a positive skills assessment
– Occupation must be on ROL, MLTSSL, or STSOL
Application Process – Employer nomination required
– Labour Agreement if standard requirements not met
– Evidence for eligibility and visa application charge
Visa Conditions – Live, work, study in regional areas
– Employer Sponsored or Labour Agreement Stream conditions
– Pathway to permanent residency after 3 years
Health and Character – Mandatory health exams
– Evidence of good character
Family Provisions – Family members must live in regional areas
– Partner can work and study
– Possible Medicare entitlement
Permanent Residency Pathways – Eligible for Subclass 191 after 3 years on 494 visa
– Must meet 494 conditions and income requirements
Benefits and Community Integration – Economic and social contributions to regional areas
– Support services for community assimilation

Eligibility: 494 Visa Requirements

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for the visa:

  • Age: Applicants must be under 45 years of age at the time of application.
  • English: A competent level of English is mandatory for the primary applicant.
  • Be nominated by an approved work sponsor.
  • Have an occupation on the relevant skilled occupation list.
  • Meet the skill level requirements for their occupation.
  • Satisfy the character and health requirements.
  • Obtain a skills assessment from the relevant skills assessing authority.

Skills Assessment and Occupation Lists

Skills Assessment: It’s essential for applicants to undergo a skills assessment. The assessment must:

  • Be conducted by an authorised assessing authority.
  • Demonstrate that the applicant possesses the necessary skills and qualifications for the occupation.

494 Visa Occupation Lists: Applicants must nominate an occupation that is on one of the following lists:

  • The Regional Occupation List (ROL)
  • The Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  • The Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)
An employee working in agriculture

Visa Application and Nomination Procedure

Regional Certification Board:

The business must first obtain approval from a regional certification board.

Nomination Application:

  • Regional employers must nominate the applicant and prove that they cannot find a suitable Australian worker.
  • A Labour Agreement may be utilised if standard nomination requirements cannot be met.

Visa Application Process:

  • Following a successful nomination, applicants can lodge their visa application.
  • The process involves:
    • Provision of evidence for age, skills, English proficiency, and other eligibility criteria.
    • Payment of the visa application charge.

494 Visa Conditions and Regulations

The 494 visa allows skilled workers to live, work and study in designated regional areas of Australia. Compliance with visa conditions is stringent, ensuring that both the visa holder and accompanying family members adhere to the Australian government’s requirements.

The main condition with this particular visa is that the holder must:

live and work in a regional area of Australia

must work with the sponsoring employer

Residency and Employment Obligations

Under the Employer Sponsored Stream, visa holders must work only in their nominated occupation and live in a regional area. Labour Agreement Stream workers must adhere to the conditions of the agreement, which could include specific work and residency stipulations.

Here are the key differences between the two streams:

  1. Employer Sponsored Stream:
  • This stream allows employers in regional Australia to sponsor foreign skilled workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers.
  • The occupation of the visa applicant must be on the relevant skilled occupation list for the 494 visa.
  • Employers do not need to have a labor agreement in place with the Australian government to sponsor an applicant under this stream.
  • The visa holder is required to work for the sponsoring employer in the regional area for a period of 5 years.

2. Labour Agreement Stream:

  • This stream is for employers in regional Australia who have a labor agreement with the Australian government. A labor agreement is a negotiated arrangement between an employer and the government that allows for the sponsorship of overseas workers.
  • The occupations can include those not on the standard skilled occupation lists, as they are tailored to the needs covered by the labor agreement.
  • Labour agreements are typically used when standard visa programs are not available or suitable for the employer’s specific circumstances.
  • The terms and conditions of employment are defined by the labor agreement, which may include concessions on certain requirements that are not available under the standard Employer Sponsored Stream.

Both streams require the visa holder to live, work, and study only in designated regional areas of Australia and offer a pathway to permanent residency after three years. However, the key difference lies in whether the sponsoring employer operates under a labor agreement with the Australian government or uses the standard skilled occupation lists to sponsor an overseas worker.

Permanent Residency can be applied for after satisfying certain conditions, including a mandatory three-year residence in a regional area.

  • Regional Areas: Visa holders are required to live, work, and study in designated areas only.
  • Nominated Occupation: Must work in the role that they were sponsored for by their employer.

Health and Character Requirements

To ensure public safety and maintain the integrity of the Australian community, applicants are assessed against strict health and character requirements.

  • Health Requirements: Mandatory health examinations to meet minimum standards and may require health insurance.
  • Good Character: Evidence of good character such as police clearances and declarations.

Family Members and Partner Provisions

Family members included in the 494 visa application are subject to the same conditions as the primary applicant, including living in regional Australia.

  • Partner: A partner can work and study but must reside in a regional area.
  • Family: Dependents must also live, work, and study in the designated regions.
  • Medicare: Some visa holders may be entitled to Medicare, Australia’s healthcare scheme.
  • Birth Certificates: Must be provided for all family members as part of the application.

Post-Visa Transition Pathways

The main pathway for holders of the Subclass 494 visa to transition into permanent residency in Australia is through the Subclass 191 visa application.

Subclass 191 Visa Considerations

To qualify for the Subclass 191 Visa, which grants permanent residence, applicants must have held a Subclass 494 visa for at least three years, have complied with its conditions, and have met the minimum taxable income requirements. Applicants must primarily demonstrate they have lived, worked, or studied exclusively in a Designated Regional Area during their time on the Subclass 494 visa.

Other visas that can lead to the Subclass 191 visa include the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Subclass 491. It should be noted that the Subclass 191 Visa is distinct from other permanent visas such as Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme) and Subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated Visa), which have different eligibility criteria and do not require an initial provisional residency period.

An employee working in the information technology industry

494 Visa Benefits and Community Integration

The Subclass 494 visa offers numerous advantages to regional areas in Australia, facilitating both economic growth and smoother cultural blending.

Economic and Social Advantages

Skilled workers on the Subclass 494 visa contribute significantly to regional economies by providing essential skills in areas experiencing labour shortages. Migrants partake in the community’s growth as they fill roles listed on the Skilled Occupation List, which is pivotal to ensuring the relevancy of skills imported to regional demands.

  • Work Experience: The 494 visa allows skilled migrants to gain valuable Australian work experience, enhancing their career prospects and local workforce capacity.
  • Benefits: Visa holders, with possible pathways to permanent residency, are incentivised to invest in their local community, resulting in enhanced economic vitality.

Integration Support and Resources

Resource allocation for integration is carefully put in place by the Australian Government, emphasising the importance of community coherence.

  • Community: A variety of support services are offered to facilitate assimilation into the community, from English language programs to cultural acclimatisation initiatives.
  • Regional Certifying Bodies: These entities play a pivotal role in ensuring migrants are well-suited to their respective regional areas, thereby streamlining the community integration process.

Migrate to Australia

Our immigration lawyers and registered migration agents in Melbourne will be able to find you the best visa for your unique situation. You’ll be in good hands.

A Comparison of Australian Work Visas

Comparison of Australian Visas
Visa Type Subclass 494 Subclass 491 Subclass 189 Subclass 190 Subclass 186 Subclass 187 Subclass 482
Title Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa Skilled Independent Visa (Points-tested stream) Skilled Nominated Visa Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa
Sponsorship/Nomination Employer Sponsored State/Territory or Family Sponsored Independent State/Territory Nominated Employer Sponsored Employer Sponsored (regional) Employer Sponsored
Visa Duration 5 years (provisional) 5 years (provisional) Permanent Permanent Permanent Permanent (now closed to new applications) Up to 4 years
Points Test No Yes Yes Yes No No No
Regional Requirements Yes Yes No No No Yes No
Pathway to Permanent Residency Yes, after 3 years Yes, after 3 years Immediate permanent residency Immediate permanent residency Immediate permanent residency Immediate permanent residency Possible via transition stream
Work Rights Restricted to sponsoring employer Flexible Unrestricted Unrestricted Restricted to sponsoring employer Restricted to sponsoring employer Restricted to sponsoring employer

All Your Questions About the 494 Visa Answered

Do you have more questions about the 494 visa? Contact our Registered Migration Agents in Melbourne to arrange a consultation and obtain more reliable information.

Discover more about other Australian work visas in the following guides: 

myer lipschitz


Myer Lipschitz

Myer Lipschitz was born in Johannesburg and is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1985 he was conferred the degree Bachelor of Laws. Myer completed his Articles of Clerkship with Ivor Trackman, Attorneys and was admitted as an Attorney to the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1988. Myer immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 and was admitted to practice law in New Zealand as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand...

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