The Australian government has published legislation for the new Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (Subclass 494), which will come into effect on 16 November 2019. The list of qualifying occupations has not yet been published.
There will be two streams of the visa:
- For employers who hold Standard Business Sponsorships (although overseas business sponsors are excluded) – the Employer Sponsored Stream;
- For employers who hold a Labour Agreement (negotiated between the company, government and other stakeholders) – the Labour Agreement Stream.
Criteria for Both Streams
Regardless of the stream, the position that will be filled has to be located in a designated regional area of Australia. It appears that this will be all of Australia outside of the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. This is anticipated to be a much larger area than what has previously been defined as ‘regional’ though again the detailed list of available postcodes is not available as yet.
The position has to meet ‘genuineness’ criteria, be full time and available for at least five years. There are new cancellation provisions allowing the cancellation of these visas if at any time the position is found to be not genuine.
Criteria for Employer-Sponsored Stream Only
For this stream, the nomination of the position must include a contract that is signed by both the applicant and sponsor, with a salary that is shown to be the market rate for that occupation. Regional Certifying Bodies will need to confirm that the salary is market rate.
The associated visa application requires that the applicant has undertaken a skills assessment and has three years of relevant work experience (unless the skills assessment or work experience requirements are exempted, but there are no details on the circumstances which may qualify for an exemption).
The visa application in this stream may allow for the health requirement to be waived.
The visa granted will be valid for five years, but there are strict rules on reporting, requiring applicants to advise of any changes in their residential address, passport or work and study address within 14 days of the change. A change in the work, study and residential location for the main applicant and all family members can also only be in a designated regional area of Australia. In addition, if requested by immigration at any time, evidence of the residential, work and study addresses of the family must be provided within 28 days.
After holding a subclass 494 visa for three years, and provided they have complied with all the conditions on their visa and have a salary over the three years at least equal to a certain, as-yet unspecified amount, the individual can apply for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional), subclass 191 visa, without a sponsoring employer.