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The pros and cons of a 494 visa in Australia

See all articlesThe pros and cons of a 494 visa in Australia
Work & Skilled
Associate - Australian Migration Lawyer
February 4, 2024
4
minute read

The subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa is one of a number of employer sponsored visas available which will allow skilled workers to work and live in a designated regional area in Australia.

Understanding the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa

The Employer Sponsored Regional Provisional visa is designed to allow regional employers to sponsor skilled workers for a 494 visa, allowing them to live and work in a designated regional area for up to five years. 

This visa enables regional employers to address identified labour shortages, and is intended to support the development of regional Australia while allowing skilled workers and their eligible family members to come to Australia and have a permanent residency pathway after three years.

The 494 visa, while providing a useful pathway for skilled workers, comes with a number of conditions which are not linked to other skilled visas. As a regional visa, visa holders will be required to live and work in designated regional areas, and may be subjected to additional requirements to provide evidence to the Department related to their residential and work address.

This article aims to outline some of the benefits of the subclass 494 visa, as well as some of the conditions, additional requirements and limitations, to help you decide whether this visa would be suitable for your situation.

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Pros of the 494 Visa

The key benefits to a 494 visa applicant and their approved work sponsor can be summarised as follows.

For employers

  • Access to a broader talent pool.
  • Strengthening regional businesses by filling skill gaps.
  • Government support for businesses in designated regional areas.
  • The ability to support skilled workers up to permanent residence

For visa applicants

  • Pathway to permanent residency in Australia.
  • Opportunity to live and work in less congested, regional areas.
  • Potential for a better work-life balance in regional settings.
  • The option to become a permanent resident after three years
  • Access to medicare
  • Work and study rights for included family members

Cons of the 494 visa

While there are a number of benefits to the subclass 494 visa, the restrictions related to regional work can be difficult for some visa applicants, particularly if they are intending to reside in Australia’s larger cities. In practice, much of Australia is considered a designated regional area for the purposes of this visa, however the conditions are still important to consider.

For employers

  • Complexity and cost of the sponsorship process.
  • Obligations and legal responsibilities of sponsoring an employee.
  • Additional requirement for Regional Certifying Body approval.
  • Access to a broader range of eligible occupations.

For visa applicants

  • Restriction to living and working in regional areas for a certain period.
  • The uncertainty involved with a temporary visa.
  • Potential challenges in adapting to regional lifestyles for some individuals.
  • More lenient age requirements when it comes to the PR stage.

Navigating the application process

The application for a Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa can be broken down into four main stages.

The first is an application by an Australian employer that is lawfully operating in a designated regional area to become an approved work sponsor. The sponsoring business must apply to become a work sponsor before they can lodge a nomination for the position in their business.

An approved sponsor must then make an application to the relevant Regional Certifying Body for the regional area that the position will be located in. The relevant assessing authority for specific areas can be found online, and each will have their own processes and fees. This process will assess the conditions of employment, including the proposed salary for any skilled workers nominated by the sponsor. The employer must also show that they have been unable to find an appropriately skilled Australian worker to fill the position.

Once the Regional Certifying Body has approved the position, the nominating employer must lodge a nomination for the position, which must include evidence of labour market testing, details of the nominated occupation, evidence that the business is operating in regional Australia, salary details and copies of the job offer and signed employment contract.

Once the nomination has been lodged, the applicant can lodge the application for the 494 visa. The application must be accompanied by evidence that the applicant has a suitable skills assessment,  valid passport, competent English, and a minimum of three years of full-time experience in the nominated position. All applicants, including family members, must also meet health and character requirements.

After holding the 494 visa for three years, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency through the subclass 191 visa.

Learn more about the requirements of the 494 visa process .

Alternatives to the 494 visa

The key alternative to the 494 visa would be the subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa. The two options are very similar, however the 482 is not restricted to regional areas and has fewer eligibility requirements.

The key reasons for picking one option or another will be based on the occupation that you are looking to apply for. The 494 can include occupations that are not available for the 482, which generally relate to lower skilled occupations that are in significant shortage in regional areas.

Similar to the 494 pathway to permanent residence with the 191 visa, the 482 leads to PR through the subclass 186.As such, this can be a more suitable option for applicants who are looking to work in occupations that are eligible for the 482. 

While many PR visas will have an age limit of 45, the 191 visa, which is the PR stage for the 494, has no age limitation. As such, this visa may also provide an opportunity for applicants who are under the age of 45 when they apply for the 494, but would not be when coming to the PR stage, to apply for permanent residence despite being over 45.

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Consulting with Australian Migration Lawyers

As we have outlined, there are a number of benefits and drawbacks of the 494 visa. Ultimately, the best pathway for you will depend on a number of factors, including your occupation, experience, intentions and age. It is important to weigh up all factors before choosing the pathway that’s best for you.

We encourage you to seek professional advice before making a decision, and at Australian Migration Lawyers, we have experience with a wide variety of skilled visas. We have assisted many skilled foreign workers in finding the best pathway, and would be happy to assist you in deciding how best to achieve your goals in Australia.

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