190 vs 491 Visa

190 vs 491 Visa: What Are The Differences Between The Two Visas?

Australia has a diversity of skilled migration visas available for individuals who wish to move to the country based on their professional talents and qualifications. These visas aim to meet Australia’s labor market demands and enhance the economy by attracting skilled workers in various industries. Among these, the Subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated Visa) and Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa) are prominent options for those seeking to live and work in Australia.

Subclass 190 visas are designed for skilled workers nominated by an Australian state or territory government. To be eligible, applicants must possess a skill listed on the relevant skilled occupation list, have a suitable skills assessment, and be invited to apply after submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the SkillSelect online service.

Subclass 491 visas cater to qualified individuals sponsored by either a state or territory government, or a relative living in a designated regional area of Australia. This visa is provisional and encourages migrants to live and work in regional or low-population growth metropolitan areas for up to five years, with a pathway to permanent residency if certain conditions are met.

Both visas operate under a points-based system, where points are awarded for factors including age, English proficiency, skilled employment, and educational qualifications, among others. Skilled migrants can significantly contribute to regional development and the nation’s economic prosperity.

Understanding the nuances between these two visa categories is vital for intending migrants. As such, reviewing factual data and eligibility requirements is an essential step before proceeding with an application.

If you want a quick summary of their differences, here they are:

  • Visa Status: Permanent vs. Provisional
  • Regional Commitment and Flexibility: The commitment to regional Australia differentiates the two visas significantly.
  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: The journey to permanent residency varies between the two visas.
  • Point Allocation for Nomination: The points-based system awards points for state or territory nomination differently.
  • Scope of Nomination and Sponsorship: The scope and nature of nomination and sponsorship vary between the visas.

Overview of 190 Visa:

The Subclass 190 visa, officially known as the Skilled Nominated Visa, is a beacon of hope for skilled professionals seeking permanent residency in Australia. It’s a pathway that not only allows individuals to live and work in Australia but also paves the way for them to become permanent residents from the get-go. This visa is designed for those who have the skills Australia needs, but it comes with a twist – you need to be nominated by an Australian state or territory.

Eligibility and Requirements

To be eligible for the Subclass 190 visa, candidates must tick several boxes:

  • State or Territory Nomination: The cornerstone of the Subclass 190 visa is the nomination by an Australian state or territory. This means that you must have an occupation that is in demand in a particular state or territory and that the government of that state or territory is willing to nominate you.
  • Points-Based Eligibility: Like many of Australia’s skilled visas, the Subclass 190 is points-tested. Applicants must score at least 65 points on the immigration points test, which assesses factors such as age, English language ability, skilled employment experience, and educational qualifications.
  • Skills Assessment: Applicants must have their skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority to prove that they have the skills and qualifications to work in their chosen occupation in Australia.
  • English Proficiency: A competent level of English is a must, as evidenced by scores from an approved English language test.
  • Age: Applicants should be under 45 years of age at the time of the invitation to apply for the visa.

Benefits and Limitations of the 190 Visa

Choosing the Subclass 190 visa comes with a plethora of benefits:

  • Permanent Residency: The most compelling advantage of the Subclass 190 visa is its offering of permanent residency status from the outset. This means you can live and work in Australia indefinitely, enjoy the benefits of Australia’s healthcare system (Medicare), and have access to certain social security benefits.
  • Freedom of Movement: Although you are nominated by a state or territory, you are not strictly bound to live and work in that region once you have fulfilled the initial commitment period. This provides a degree of flexibility and freedom not found in provisional visas.
  • Inclusion of Family Members: You can include your partner, your children, or your partner’s children in your application, making it a viable pathway for not just individuals but families as well.

However, the Subclass 190 visa is not without its challenges:

  • Competitive Process: Due to its attractive offering of permanent residency, the Subclass 190 visa is highly competitive. The demand for certain occupations can be high, making the process more challenging for some applicants.
  • Commitment to a State or Territory: While you have some degree of freedom, there is an expectation that you will live and work in the nominating state or territory for a specified period. This commitment should be taken seriously as it is part of the agreement when accepting the nomination.

Overview of 491 Visa:

The Subclass 491 visa, known as the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa, represents a transformative opportunity for skilled individuals willing to embrace life in regional Australia. As a provisional visa with a validity of 5 years, it’s crafted to address regional skill shortages and promote a more balanced population growth throughout the country. The 491 visa is a pathway not just to regional Australia but also to eventual permanent residency, under specific conditions.

Eligibility and Requirements

Embarking on the Subclass 491 visa journey involves meeting a range of criteria:

  • State or Territory Nomination or Family Sponsorship: Applicants must be either nominated by an Australian state or territory government or be sponsored by an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area.
  • Regional Living: The hallmark of the 491 visa is the requirement to live, work, and study in a designated regional area of Australia. This condition aims to support regional communities and economies.
  • Points-Based Eligibility: Similar to the Subclass 190 visa, the Subclass 491 is also points-tested, requiring a minimum score of 65. However, the 491 visa provides an additional 15 points for being nominated by a state or territory or being sponsored by a family member, which can be a significant advantage.
  • Skills Assessment and Occupation List: Applicants must have a positive skills assessment and their occupation must be on the relevant skilled occupation list for the nominating state or territory, or for the region where the sponsoring family member resides.
  • English Proficiency and Age: Competent English and being under 45 years of age at the time of invitation are standard requirements.

Pros of the 491 Visa

Choosing the Subclass 491 visa comes with distinct advantages:

  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: After living for 3 years in a regional area and meeting specific income requirements, 491 visa holders can apply for the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa, offering a clear route to permanent residency.
  • Regional Opportunities: The visa encourages exploration and contribution to regional areas, which often have unique opportunities and a lower cost of living compared to major cities.
  • Additional Points: The additional 15 points for state or territory nomination or family sponsorship make it easier to meet the points requirement, potentially fast-tracking the invitation process.
  • Inclusion of Family Members: Similar to the Subclass 190 visa, the Subclass 491 allows for the inclusion of family members in the application, supporting the unity of families.

Cons of the 491 Visa

While promising, the Subclass 491 visa also has its set of challenges:

  • Provisional Nature: Being a provisional visa, it doesn’t immediately offer the same permanency and security as the Subclass 190 visa. Applicants must adhere to the conditions of living in a regional area for at least 3 years before they can transition to permanent residency.
  • Commitment to Regional Areas: The requirement to live, work, and study in a regional area may be limiting for some, especially for those with career or lifestyle aspirations in major metropolitan areas.
  • Longer Path to Citizenship: The provisional nature and the required period in a regional area might extend the journey to Australian citizenship compared to direct permanent residency visas.

Key Similarities between 190 and 491 Visas

While the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas cater to different preferences and lifestyles, they share a common foundation rooted in Australia’s General Skilled Migration Programme. These similarities lay the groundwork for understanding how both visa subclasses operate within the broader context of Australian immigration. Here’s a closer look at the key parallels between the two:

1. State or Territory Nomination

Both the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas require nomination by an Australian state or territory. This pivotal requirement underscores the importance of aligning one’s skills and qualifications with the specific needs of these regions. It’s a mutual commitment – applicants pledge to contribute to the nominating region’s economy and social fabric, while the region provides a supportive environment for the applicants’ professional growth and personal development.

2. Points-Based System

The eligibility for both visas is determined through a points-based system, a hallmark of Australia’s approach to selecting skilled immigrants. Factors such as age, language proficiency, educational qualifications, and work experience play a critical role in the assessment process. A minimum score of 65 points is required for both visas, though the Subclass 491 offers additional points for state or territory nomination or family sponsorship, giving applicants a competitive edge.

3. Skills Assessment and Occupation Lists

Applicants for both the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas must undergo a skills assessment conducted by an authorized assessing authority. This ensures that the applicant’s skills and qualifications meet Australian standards. Furthermore, applicants must have an occupation that is listed on the relevant skilled occupation list, reflecting the demand for certain professions in different regions of Australia.

4. English Proficiency and Age Requirements

Competency in the English language is a prerequisite for both visa subclasses, ensuring that immigrants can effectively integrate into Australian society and the workforce. Additionally, applicants must be under the age of 45 at the time of invitation, aligning with the program’s aim of attracting young, skilled professionals who can contribute to the country’s long-term prosperity.

5. Health, Character, and Family Inclusions

Adhering to Australia’s high standards, applicants for both visas must meet medical, health, and character requirements. This ensures that incoming residents contribute positively to the community and adhere to Australian values and laws. Moreover, both visas allow for the inclusion of family members in the application, recognizing the importance of family unity and support.

6. Invitation to Apply and Nomination Guarantee

Receiving an invitation to apply is a crucial step for both visas, ensuring that only those who meet the stringent criteria and are most likely to succeed in Australia are selected. Moreover, receiving a state or territory nomination guarantees an invitation, reflecting the importance of regional needs and priorities in the selection process.

Key Differences between 190 and 491 Visas

While the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas share foundational elements, they are distinct pathways tailored to different immigrant profiles and objectives. Recognizing these differences is crucial for potential applicants to align their immigration plans with their career goals, lifestyle preferences, and long-term aspirations in Australia. Here, we explore the key factors that set these two visa subclasses apart.

1. Visa Status: Permanent vs. Provisional

The most fundamental difference lies in the nature of the visa status:

  • Subclass 190 Visa (Permanent Residency): The Subclass 190 visa grants permanent residency from the outset. It offers a stable and long-term settlement option, allowing beneficiaries to live, work, and study anywhere in Australia after fulfilling any initial state or territory obligations.
  • Subclass 491 Visa (Provisional): The Subclass 491 visa is provisional, valid for 5 years, and requires holders to live, work, and study in a designated regional area. It offers a pathway to permanent residency through the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa after fulfilling specific residency and income requirements.

2. Regional Commitment and Flexibility

The commitment to regional Australia differentiates the two visas significantly:

  • Subclass 190 Visa: Applicants are expected to live in the nominating state or territory for a specified period. However, after this commitment period, they have the freedom to move and settle anywhere in Australia.
  • Subclass 491 Visa: Applicants must commit to living in a designated regional area for at least three years to be eligible for permanent residency under Subclass 191. This commitment underscores the visa’s objective to promote the development of regional and remote areas.

3. Pathway to Permanent Residency

The journey to permanent residency varies between the two visas:

  • Subclass 190 Visa: As a permanent resident visa, the Subclass 190 offers immediate permanency, allowing holders to plan for a long-term future in Australia from the start.
  • Subclass 491 Visa: The Subclass 491 visa provides a structured pathway to permanent residency. Visa holders must meet certain conditions, including living in a regional area for three years and meeting income requirements, before they can transition to permanent residency via the Subclass 191 visa.

4. Point Allocation for Nomination

The points-based system awards points for state or territory nomination differently:

  • Subclass 190 Visa: Applicants receive 5 points for obtaining a state or territory nomination, contributing to the overall points score required for the visa.
  • Subclass 491 Visa: Applicants receive a more significant boost of 15 points for a state or territory nomination or sponsorship by an eligible family member, enhancing their chances of meeting the points threshold.

5. Scope of Nomination and Sponsorship

The scope and nature of nomination and sponsorship vary between the visas:

  • Subclass 190 Visa: The nomination is purely state or territory-based, aligning with the specific needs and strategic priorities of the nominating region.
  • Subclass 491 Visa: In addition to state or territory nomination, the Subclass 491 visa offers the option of being sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated regional area, broadening the avenues for potential applicants.

Application Process for 190 and 491 Visas

Embarking on the journey to Australian residency through the Subclass 190 or Subclass 491 visa involves a structured and meticulous application process. While both visa subclasses share some steps due to their inclusion in the General Skilled Migration Programme, there are specific nuances to each that applicants must navigate carefully. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the application process for the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas.

Visa Subclass 190: Skilled Nominated Visa

  1. Skills Assessment: The first step is to have your skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority for your nominated occupation. This ensures that your skills and qualifications meet Australian standards.
  2. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI): You will need to submit an EOI through SkillSelect, detailing your qualifications, work experience, and other relevant information. Your EOI will be visible to Australian employers and government entities who may then decide to nominate you for a visa.
  3. State or Territory Nomination: If a state or territory government decides to nominate you, you will receive an invitation to apply for the visa. Each state or territory has its criteria for nomination, so it’s essential to ensure that you meet their specific requirements.
  4. Visa Application: Once nominated, you must formally apply for the Subclass 190 visa. This involves submitting your application along with the required documents and paying the visa application fee.
  5. Await Decision: After submitting your application, you will need to wait for a decision from the Department of Home Affairs. The processing time can vary, so it’s essential to prepare for a waiting period.
  6. Visa Grant: If your application is successful, you will be granted the Subclass 190 visa, which allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident.

Visa Subclass 491: Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa

  1. Skills Assessment: Similar to the Subclass 190 visa, you must have your skills assessed by an appropriate assessing authority.
  2. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI): Lodge an EOI through SkillSelect, indicating your interest in the Subclass 491 visa and demonstrating how you meet the points test.
  3. State or Territory Nomination or Family Sponsorship: Depending on whether you are seeking state or territory nomination or have an eligible relative sponsoring you, ensure that you meet the specific criteria set by the nominating state or territory or the conditions for family sponsorship.
  4. Visa Application: Once you receive an invitation to apply, proceed with submitting your visa application and accompanying documentation, along with the necessary fees.
  5. Await Decision: The Department of Home Affairs will process your application. The processing times may vary, and it’s crucial to keep track of your application’s status.
  6. Visa Grant: If your application is approved, you will receive the Subclass 491 visa. It’s provisional for five years, and you must live, work, or study in a designated regional area of Australia.
  7. Transition to Permanent Residency: After living in a regional area for three years and meeting specific income requirements, you can apply for the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa to transition to permanent residency.

Both the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas require careful preparation, adherence to specific criteria, and a thorough understanding of the steps involved. It’s advisable to ensure that all documentation is accurate and complete before submission to avoid delays or negative outcomes. With meticulous planning and attention to detail, applicants can navigate the process smoothly towards achieving their goal of living and working in Australia.

Costs, Processing Times, and Other Considerations for 190 and 491 Visas

When planning your journey to Australian residency through the Subclass 190 or Subclass 491 visas, understanding the financial implications, processing times, and other crucial considerations is essential. These factors play a significant role in your preparation and decision-making process.

Visa Costs

The cost of applying for a visa is an important consideration as it can vary based on the visa subclass and the number of family members included in your application. Here are the general cost structures for the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas:

  • Main Visa Applicant: The primary applicant is responsible for paying the visa application charge, which is AUD 4,115 for both the Subclass 190 and Subclass 491 visas.
  • Additional Applicants: If you include family members in your application, additional charges will apply. For a spouse or partner, the fee is AUD 2,055. For each dependent child, the fee is AUD 1,030.

It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change, and applicants should check the latest fee structure on the official Department of Home Affairs website. Additionally, other costs may be associated with the visa application process, such as charges for health assessments, police certificates, and skills assessments.

Processing Times

Processing times can vary based on several factors, including the volume of applications, the complexity of individual cases, and the completeness and accuracy of the submitted documentation. Here are the general processing times:

  • Subclass 190 Visa: Approximately 75% of applications are processed within 6 months, and 90% are processed within 8 months.
  • Subclass 491 Visa: Approximately 75% of applications are processed within 7 months, and 90% are processed within 8 months.

Applicants are encouraged to provide all required documents promptly to avoid delays in the processing of their applications.

Other Considerations

  • Commitment to the Nominating State or Territory: For both visa subclasses, there is an expectation that you will live and work in the nominating state or territory for a specified period. This commitment should be taken seriously, as it forms part of your agreement when accepting the nomination.
  • Regional Living for Subclass 491 Visa Holders: If you are granted a Subclass 491 visa, you must be prepared to live, work, and study in a designated regional area. This requirement is central to the visa’s objective and should align with your lifestyle and career goals.
  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: For Subclass 491 visa holders, it’s important to understand the conditions that must be met to transition to permanent residency through the Subclass 191 visa. These conditions include living in a regional area for three years and meeting specific income requirements.
  • Updates and Changes: Immigration policies and procedures can change. It’s crucial to stay informed about the latest updates from the Department of Home Affairs and seek advice from registered migration agents if needed.

By carefully considering these costs, processing times, and other factors, you can better prepare for your visa application journey and set realistic expectations for the process ahead. With thorough planning and an understanding of these aspects, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the path to your new life in Australia.