State Nominations for Subclass 491 Visas

The new Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) visa enables skilled workers and their families to live, work and/or study in regional areas of Australia for up to five years. The visa provides pathways to permanent residency after three years.

There are two streams: family sponsored and state nominated. The family sponsored visa requires that you have a relative living in a regional area of Australia who is willing to sponsor you and that you have an occupation on the Medium and Long Term Skilled Shortage List (MLTSSL). It also requires that you lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) and are invited in the monthly invitation rounds which are competitive and based on the points you achieve in the points test.

The state nominated visa is considered to be easier as there is a longer list of occupations available and you only often only need to achieve the minimum points to get an invitation. To apply for a visa in this stream, you still need to lodge an EOI but the invitations are sent as soon as the state or territory approves the nomination .

When deciding whether to nominate an applicant, state or territory nominating agencies refer to their own criteria, which vary from state to state. As a starting point, all applicants must show they have an occupation on the relevant state or territory occupation list, and that they have a genuine intention to reside in that state or territory.

State and territory agencies offer a number of different ‘streams’ and generally cater to onshore skilled applicants, offshore skilled applicants, and recent tertiary graduates. Some states also provide options for small business owners, or applicants with family living in the state or territory.

Please note, the below is information on general requirements and does not take into account any of your personal circumstances. You must check the State/Territory information carefully to ensure you can meet all the requirements for nomination.


The ACT uses their own points matrix to select applicants for nomination. If you are onshore and reside in Canberra, you must have been residing in Canberra for at least three months immediately before your application, and working for an ACT employer in Canberra for at least three months.

The ACT will only nominate offshore applicants who have not resided in another Australian state or territory within the last 12 months. If you are offshore, you must also have at least 12 months of continuous experience within the last three years in the nominated occupation, and demonstrate employability in Canberra.

You can access the ACT’s occupation lists here.


If you are onshore and seeking nomination from NSW, you will need to show that you have been working in the nominated occupation (or a closely related occupation) and living in regional NSW for at least the last 12 months.

If you are offshore, you may be nominated by NSW if:

NSW may nominate tertiary graduates who recently completed study at an institution in regional NSW.

The NSW occupation lists can be found here.


The NT may nominate onshore applicants who have lived in the NT for at least 6 months, and worked full-time in their nominated occupation (or a closely related occupation). You will also need to show you have ongoing prospects of employment in your nominated occupation.

If you are offshore, you will need to demonstrate that:

You will also need to demonstrate that you have strong prospects of employment in the NT.

Graduates may be nominated if they have completed at least two years of full-time study at a college or university in the NT.

The NT occupation lists are accessible here.


If you are onshore and wish to be nominated by QLD, you need to show that you have lived and worked full-time in the nominated occupation in regional QLD for at least three months, and that you will have ongoing employment in regional QLD for the next 12 months.

Offshore applicants need to demonstrate at least two years’ post-qualification work experience in the nominated occupation.

QLD nominates recent Masters and PhD graduates. Graduates need to show that they completed their Degree at a QLD-based institution. Masters graduates must provide evidence of full-time employment with a QLD employer and a job offer for ongoing employment. PhD graduates are not generally required to provide evidence of a job offer, unless otherwise stated.

QLD may also nominate you if you are a small business owner. You will need to show that you have purchased and been operating an existing business in regional QLD, and that you have prior experience or the qualifications necessary to successfully run the business.

The QLD occupation lists are here.


SA may nominate you if you have at least one year of skilled work experience in the last three years. This experience does not necessarily have to be in your nominated occupation. You will need to show that you have worked in regional SA for the last six months, or in Greater Adelaide for the last 12 months.

SA also caters to graduates who recently completed a qualification while residing in SA. Graduates must demonstrate that they meet the work experience requirements, or they are eligible for a work experience waiver.

The SA occupation lists are accessible here.


TAS may nominate onshore skilled workers who have been living and working full-time in TAS for at least the six months preceding the application. You must be employed by an established business, with a genuine need for your position.

TAS will only nominate offshore applicants who have not lived in another Australian state or territory in the last 12 months. If you are offshore, you can show either:

Graduates of TAS tertiary institutions may be nominated provided they lived in TAS for at least one year while studying, and currently reside in Tasmania.

TAS also provides options for applicants with an immediate family member in TAS, or small business owners. If you are a small business owner, you must demonstrate that your business has been established and operating in TAS for at least six months, and that it is likely the business will generate a personal income that meets the income threshold set by the Department of Home Affairs (currently $53,900).

The TAS occupation list is accessible here. We note that this list is mainly used to assess offshore applicants.


VIC offers nominations to onshore and offshore skilled applicants. You may be eligible if you have an offer for full-time employment in a regional area for at least 12 months. The employer must be an established business with genuine need for the position.

VIC uses Immigration’s skilled occupation list, which is available here.


If you are either onshore or offshore, you may be nominated by WA if you have at least one year of work experience in Australia, or three years’ experience overseas in your nominated occupation. You will need to have a contract for employment in WA for a duration of at least 12 months.

Graduates from a WA tertiary institution may be eligible if they meet the work experience criteria. You will need to show either:

Masters and PhD graduates do not need to meet the work experience criteria.

The WA skilled occupation lists are accessible here.

Top 10 highest paying jobs in Australia in 2020






One of the many reasons that people migrate to Australia is a better lifestyle. It is no surprise then that Australia offers many well-paid jobs.

Here are the top 10 highest paying jobs in Australia in 2020:

  1. IT System Architect:The IT industry is booming in Australia. Hence, it is not surprising that IT System Architects earn up to AUD 139,690 per year. An IT System Architect builds, designs and tests the entire IT infrastructure of organizations that have an internal network. They handle highly sensitive and complex projects, which require not only knowledge and information, but also previous experience. Since this job is extremely technical and requires expertise, IT System Architect is one of the highest–paid jobs in Australia.
  2. Information Technology Manager:Information Technology Managers are responsible for the active and effective deployment of software in the IT systems. Senior Information Technology Managers can earn as much as AUD 125,000per year.
  3. Engineering Manager: Depending on the discipline of engineering, Engineering Managers can earn as much as AUD 132,350per year. For example, Engineering Managers in Oil, Gas and Energy earn much more than those working in Mining and Chemicals.
  4. Information Technology Security Architect:The demand for information technology security is going through the roof in Australia. Hence, Information Technology Security Architects are some of the most highly paid in Australia. There are a large number of vacancies for these professionals in the country. An Information Technology Security Architect may earn up to AUD 124,000per year.
  5. Analytics Manager:Managing and manipulating data are the prime responsibilities of Analytics Managers. These professionals are most in–demand in companies that deal with a large number of data. Analytics Managers can easily earn around AUD 118,820per year.
  6. Cloud Engineer:If you specialize in Cloud Engineering, you should definitely consider moving to Australia. Even though it is a recently generated job, it is soon becoming one of the most required jobs in the IT sector. A Cloud Engineer can earn up to AUD 115,590per year.
  7. Data Scientist:A Data Scientist in Australia can easily earn up to AUD 100,000per year. You need to have extensive experience in the technical field, along with a good academic background.
  8. Construction Manager: Construction Managers are one of the most highly paid in Australia and are expected to earn even more in 2020. Since the building industry is booming in Australia, Construction Managers can earn as much as AUD 111,390per year.
  9. Python Developers:Python is the most commonly used software development language, and hence it is a significant force in the IT industry. Australia currently has around 2,600 vacancies for Python Developers. A Python Developer can earn up to AUD 100,000per year in Australia.
  10. Wellbeing Manager:Even though this job is a recent creation, it is quite in demand in large companies concerned with their employees’ wellbeing. Wellbeing Managers in Australia can earn up to AUD 110,520per year.

Here are the Australian immigration changes you can see in 2020

Australia is gearing up for a number of significant immigration changes in 2020.
Here are all the Australian immigration changes that you can see in 2020.

Points Score
Scoring high points is something that all aspiring immigrants to Australia aim for.
However, the minimum score required in 2020 will remain unchanged at 65 points. 
Migration Experts encourage immigrants who score 65 points lodge an Expression of Interest. Even though applicants with higher scores have a greater chance of getting an invitation, there are several other routes that aspiring immigrants can explore.

Single applicants can now take advantage of their single status by claiming an additional 10 points. Married applicants with a skilled spouse can also claim 10 points if their spouse obtains a positive Skill Assessment Report. They can also claim 5 points if their spouse can demonstrate competent English.
Having certain STEM qualifications can earn applicants an extra 10 points.
Nomination from a state or territory or sponsorship from an eligible family member can also get applicants an extra 15 points.

New Visas
Australia has set aside 25,000 visa places for the new Regional Visas. The new Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 Visas aim to attract more skilled migrants to the designated regional areas of Australia. Both these visas have a provision for Permanent Residency.

The Traffic Light Bulletin
The Traffic Light Bulletin is issued by the Dept. of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Businesses. The Bulletin proposes significant changes to the Skilled Occupation Lists of Australia.
32 occupations may have their status changed in the SOLs while 11 occupations may be removed. 6 occupations will have salary caveats in 2020.

Red, Orange, and Green: What these colours mean for skilled migration

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business has released their Traffic Light Bulletin on potential changes to the skilled occupation lists for Immigration purposes. A number of interesting changes have been proposed, including the removal or down-grading of some trades occupations, and the addition of occupations relating to personal and aged care.

A full list is available on the Department’s website here. Please note that these are only proposed changes at this stage.

Red Occupations

These are occupations that could be removed from all occupation lists. Standing out are the occupations of Hairdresser, Massage Therapist, and Community Worker, which have previously been popular amongst migrants and in some demand in Australia.

Orange Occupations

Orange occupations are those that have been flagged to move between the three occupation lists:

Occupations currently flagged to be downgraded from MLTSSL to the STSOL include Automotive Electricians and Motorcycle Mechanics, Painting Trades Workers, and Wall and Floor Tilers.

Flagged to move from the ROL to the STSOL – opening up the option for employers in non-regional Australia to sponsor for visas – are occupations including Mechanical Engineering Draftsperson and Real Estate Representative.

Potential occupations moving from the STSOL to the MLTSSL are Sales and Marketing Manager, ICT Project Manager, and Information and Organisation Professionals which includes the occupation ‘Data Scientist’. This move would give pathways to permanent residency for 482 visa applicants as well as the chance to apply for a Skilled Independent 189 visa. It is important to note that these occupations also come with a recommendation for salary caveats above a certain level.

Moving from the STSOL to the ROL could be Geologist, which would limit applicants to living and working in regional Australia.

Finally, making a big jump from the ROL to the MLTSSL could be the occupations of Procurement Manager and Ship’s Master, again giving employers the chance to sponsor employees outside of regional Australia.

Green Occupations

A number of personal support occupations have been flagged for addition to the STSOL after languishing off all lists for quite some time. Those that could be added are Aged or Disabled Carer, Nursing Support Worker, and Personal Care Assistant. All three occupations come with the recommendation that there is a mandatory skill assessment.

Recommendation for Salary Caveats

While there would be no changes to the list for these occupations, the Department has recommended the implementation of a minimum salary caveat of AU$65,000 per annum for Bakers, Pastry Cooks, and Fitter and Turners. Sportspersons nec would require a minimum salary of AU$120,000 per annum.

New and Emerging Occupations

Finally, the Department has identified a number of new and emerging occupations that do not currently fit into the ANZSCO system. These have now been determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to fit into the following definitions:

Occupation not in ANZSCO ABS Determined Occupation Code
Blockchain Strategist 261111 ICT BUSINESS ANALYST
Blockchain Planner/Manager 135112 ICT PROJECT MANAGER
Irrigation Manager 121213 FRUIT OR NUT GROWER
Biosecurity Officer 311313 QUARANTINE OFFICER
Horticulture Farm Manager 121213 FRUIT OR NUT GROWER
Maintenance Electrician 341111 ELECTRICIAN (GENERAL)

Pros and Cons of the new Regional Visas of Australia

Australia has introduced two new Regional Visas on the 16th of November 2019. These two visas are:

The new Regional Visas throw open the door to Australian Permanent Residency and possible citizenship in the future.

If you too are mulling over whether you should apply for the new Visas, here are the pros and cons:


The definition of “regional areas” in Australia has been simplified by the Australian Govt. Barring Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, almost all of Australia is considered “regional” for immigration purposes. This means that migrants can now easily settle in satellite cities like Newcastle and Wollongong in New South Wales. They can also settle in the Gold Coast which is just about an hour’s drive from Brisbane.

Regional Visa holders will be eligible for Medicare. This will significantly lower the living expenses of migrant families on these visas. Children of Regional Visa holders will also have access to public education.

International students who graduate from Regional Universities in Australia will get an extra year on their Post-Study Work Permit. Certain international students may even be eligible for two additional years instead of one.

The new Regional Visas of Australia have a provision for Permanent Residency. Visa holders who complete three years of stay in a designated regional area may be eligible to apply for Australian PR.


Besides the mandatory stay period of three years in a designated regional area, immigrants will also need to meet the income threshold. Regional Visa holders should have earned a minimum of AUD 53,900 every year for all three years to be eligible for Australian PR.

Research by the University of Adelaide indicates that skilled migrants in regional areas are not finding the job opportunities that match their work experience.

A survey of more than 1,700 skilled immigrants revealed that 53% of them believed they were not utilizing their full potential. 44% of those surveyed were working in an occupation which was different from what they had nominated in their visa application. 15% of those surveyed reported being unemployed. This is almost twice the unemployment rate in South Australia, as per an article published.

The research also found that there was a mismatch between immigrants and the regional labour market. The mismatch was not just in the jobs available but also in the employer & employee expectations.

The survey also found that many immigrants faced discrimination from their employers due to their lack of Australian work experience.

Australian Regional Visa holders will be eligible for Medicare

The Dept. of Health in Australia has declared that the new Regional Visa holders will be “treated as eligible” for the purposes of the Health Insurance Act.

This means that Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 visa holders will be able to apply for Medicare. They will be covered under Medicare for their entire stay period.

The Subclass 491 Visa replaces the Subclass 489 Visa. Subclass 489 Visa holders did not have access to Medicare. They had to pay for their medical treatment in Australia.

However, Subclass 491 Visa holders will be to go to the hospital or visit the doctor and have all or some of the expenses covered under Medicare.

The current Subclass 482 Visa requires visa holders to purchase health insurance to cover the entire duration of the visa. They need to purchase health insurance for their families too if they accompany the primary applicant to Australia. Only if you belong to a country that has reciprocal health arrangements with Australia, you may access the Medicare card.

However, under the Subclass 494 Visa (Regional Employer Sponsored), all visa holders regardless of their home country, will be eligible for Medicare. This could help Regional Visa holders save thousands of dollars in medical fees and health insurance.

Perth and Gold Coast to be regional

Perth in Western Australia and the Gold Coast in Queensland are set to be classified as ‘regional’ for immigration purposes once changes are introduced in November this year.

Longer 485 Graduate Visas

The Western Australia and Queensland State Governments requested for Perth and the Gold Coast – respectively – to be classified as ‘regional’ in order to attract more international students. This is because from November, students who study in regional areas will be able to access a longer Subclass 485 Graduate post-study work visa.

From 16 November, students in regional cities and major regional areas, including Adelaide, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong, Hobart, and now Perth and the Gold Coast will be able to obtain an additional year on their Graduate visa.

Students from all other regional areas could obtain an additional 2 years on their Graduate visa.

Who else does this impact?

With the November introduction of one definition of ‘regional’ across all visa categories, the reclassification of Perth and the Gold Coast as regional areas mean businesses in these areas will be able to attract skilled workers through the new Subclass 494 Skilled Regional Employer Sponsored (Provisional) visa, and migrants can also consider the new Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. Further information on these visas is available on our blog here.

The WA Government has advised at this stage that the current Western Australian Skilled Migration Occupation List (WASMOL) for the Subclass 190 Skilled State Nominated visas will remain the same.

The Queensland Government has not provided an update on their state migration program as this is currently closed to skilled visa applicants.

Visa Processing

The Department of Immigration has also announced an additional 2000 places in the regional visa quota, increasing to 25,000 out of the 160,000 total places available. Applicants for the regional visas will also have priority processing of their visa applications

What can applicants do now?

Even though the changes will not be implemented until mid-November, it is a great idea to start reviewing your visa options. Migrants with relatives in Perth and the Gold Coast may now have new opportunities for visa sponsorship, and those who currently reside in these areas could now have greater options to obtain permanent residency.

Why are Skilled Independent Visas Taking So Long to Process?

Alarming new statistics relating to processing times for Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visas which were recently published by Home Affairs state that 90% of cases take 22 months to finalise (no, this is not a typo).

For those who may not be aware, Skill Select process was introduced on 1 July 2012 and was largely a product of prior failed GSM system where due to the large volume of applications lodged with the Department, it became impossible to process these applications.

SkillSelect is an online service that enables skilled persons who are interested in obtaining an Australian visa to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) that includes information about their skills and other attributes.  SkillSelect then issues invitations to apply to migrate based upon a ranking of the attributes of nominees and subject to ceilings on occupation numbers.  The rationale behind the new system was to reduce processing times and to control the number of applications lodged with the Department of Home Affairs to ensure that applicants who receive an invitation, are also afforded faster processing time.

The three-stage process involves the following:

Once an invitation is issued, the role of Home Affairs is to verify the claims made on EOI.  The idea behind issuing the invitations at an appropriate rate is to ensure that the processing times remain reasonable.

Let’s rewind to September 2018.  Back then, there were 2500 invitations issued and the average processing time for subclass 189 visa was 5 to 6 months.  Fast forward to September 2019, a mere 100 invitations were issued and the processing time has increased by almost 400%.

There appears to be little explanation in relation to this discourse.  Perhaps further information will be published in December when Home Affairs releases their annual report.

It is nonetheless concerning that we appear to be heading back to the GSM system where average process time was in excess of 2 years.  There is no doubt that Australia needs skilled migrants.  One can simply view the number job advertisements in regional areas which stay unfilled for months.  Business (regional or otherwise) struggle to retain the best and the brightest as chances of receiving permanent residence appear to diminish.

Whilst permanent migration intake has been reduced to 165 000 for this migration year, it is difficult to comprehend how this quote is going to be filled given the current situation.

Which are the best regional areas to live in east Australia?






Living in a regional area does not mean having to live in the middle of nowhere. Australia has several beautiful regional areas which Subclass 491 and 494 Regional Provisional Visa holders can live in. Here are some of the best regional areas in east Australia:

Hervey Bay is approximately 3.5 hours away from the capital city of Brisbane. It is a coastal city also known as the “Whale Watch Capital of the world”. The city is known for its safe, sheltered waters and easy approach to the Fraser Island which is on the World Heritage List.

The following industries are growing in Hervey Bay:

– Construction

– Manufacturing

– Tourism and Hospitality

– Social Assistance (incl. Aged Care)

– Health Care

Besides an international airport, Cairns also has several colleges and Universities. It is also a booming hub for the agriculture sector. Also, the famous Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest are just a stone throw away.

The following industries are growing in Cairns:

– Agribusiness

– Tourism

– Marine industry

– International education


Located in northeast NSW, Tamworth is known for its yearly Country Music Festival. The Music Festival is known to feature big international names every year as well as the famous Big Golden Guitar. It is a wine country with fertile farmlands and is a foodies delight.

The following industries are growing in Tamworth:

– Education

– Health Care

– Manufacturing

– Retail Trade

– Nature Tourism

– Agriculture


Located in the north coast of NSW, Byron Bay is closer to Brisbane than to the capital of NSW, Sydney. Byron Bay is well-known for celebrity visitors and its beach-side lifestyle.

The following industries are growing in Byron Bay:

– Information Technology

– Agriculture

– Construction

– Creative Industries

– Transportation


Thanks to numerous goldfields in the area, Ballarat is one of the richest places in Australia. The city in Victoria holds immense historical and cultural importance. The city has the Sovereign Hill which is a major tourist attraction in Australia.

The following industries are growing in Ballarat:

– Tourism, Hospitality & Professional sector

– Agriculture

– Mining

– Information Technology

– Manufacturing

– Renewable Energy


Nature enthusiasts throng Mildura which has a Mediterranean climate. The city is brimming with native wildlife, national parks, pink lakes and indigenous culture. The city also offers several outdoor activities like golf, water sports, boating etc.

The following industries are growing in Mildura:

– Manufacturing

– Agriculture

– Horticulture

– Mining

– Tourism

– Construction

– Food and Beverage

Australian migration intake drops to the lowest in a decade

Australia admitted 160,000 permanent migrants last year which has been the lowest in a decade. Industry leaders had warned the Govt. about an impending labour crunch which could severely affect several infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Addressing these concerns Mr David Coleman, Immigration Minister, said that it was important to fill in employment gaps all across Australia. He is driving the Global Talent Independent Program which has 5,000 visa places. This program aims to attract the best and the brightest foreign workers to Australia.

Australia has put an annual cap of 160,000 on permanent migration for the next 4 years. Out of these, 23,000 visa places will go to the Regional Visa Scheme.

Due to the cap, Australia expects a further drop in the number of permanent migrants in the coming 4 years. Permanent migrants hit 190,000 during 2012-13 and 2013-14 while between 2011-12 and 2016-17 the number remained well above 183,000.

Here is the breakdown of the same:

Skilled Stream 2017-18 2018-19 Change
Employer-sponsored 35,528 42,012 6484
General Skilled Migration 68,111 60,240 -7871
Distinguished Talent 200 200 0
Business innovation & investment 7260 7261 1
Skilled Total 111,099 109,713 -1386
Family Stream
Partner 39,799 39,918 119
Parent 7,371 6805 -566
Other family 562 524 -38
Family total 47,732 47,247 -485
Child 3350 3,248 -102
Special eligibility 236 115 -121
Grand Total 162,417 160,323 -2094


Mr Coleman said that Australia’s population plan aimed at decongesting the major cities. At the same time, the plan aimed at helping regional areas and smaller cities grow.

Australia has announced two regional visas which will come into effect from November 2019. 23,000 visa places have been set aside for these visas which will help fill in thousands of job vacancies in regional Australia. Regional centres in Australia have reported more than 60,000 vacant jobs. Hence, the Australian Govt. is trying to redirect the migration to regional areas and smaller cities to fill up the available jobs.

The Australian Govt. granted a Designated Area Migration Agreement to Warrnambool in June this year. The DAMA aims to tackle the chronic labour shortage in regional areas.

Australia will also deploy officials from the Dept. of Home Affairs to locations like Singapore, Dubai, Washington and Shanghai. These officials will try and attract high-skilled migrants to Australia. These officials will also be responsible for scouting recruits from prestigious institutions like Oxford, MIT and Stanford.