The Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa is a provisional (temporary residence) visa which requires holders to live, work, and study in a regional area of Australia. Once certain residence requirements have been met, holders can apply for a permanent Regional visa.
The application process for the Subclass 494 visa are very similar to those for a Subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage visa. This consists of 3 main parts:
To apply for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor, the business would need to provide evidence that it is actively and lawfully operating, and has the financial ability to meet its sponsorship obligations.
Australian businesses who have already been approved as sponsors for 457/TSS visas will be able to use the existing SBS to nominate for the Subclass 494 visa. It is not possible for overseas businesses to sponsor for the 494 visa.
Employers then nominate a position located in regional Australia, and identifies the person they wish to sponsor for the role. To meet the nomination requirements, employers must show:
A Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy is payable for each nomination under the 494 program, as follows:
The revenue raised from these payments will go towards the training of Australian workers.
The employee would then apply for a visa to work in Australia to fill the nominated position. This would involve providing evidence that they:
The Subclass 494 visa is valid for 5 years from the date of grant, and requires all visa holders to live, work, and study in regional Australia. Visa holders are eligible for Australian Medicare for the life of this visa.
494 Visas are subject to a condition limiting the primary visa holder to only work for the nominating employer, and only in the occupation in which they were sponsored. If the visa holder ceases work, they have 90 days to find a new employer or the visa is liable for cancellation.
It is possible to apply for a permanent Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa after living and working in a regional area for at least 3 years. Unlike the transitional pathway for ENS or RSMS visas, the Subclass 191 visa does not require that holders have been working for the same employer for the 3-year period, and does not require nomination from an employer in order to apply for the permanent visa.
Applicants must still meet certain income requirements, and be able to prove their residence in regional Australia for the 3-year period.
Applicants should also note that there are restrictions on applying for other permanent visas, such as the 189, 190 or 820 Partner visa until they have held the 494 for the three year period.