SC 491- A New Gateway to Permanent Residency in Australia?
This may not have made the headlines, but as of 11th September 2019, the SC 489 visa has been discontinued with no new EOIs being accepted by the Australian Government.
But if you are someone who is looking to upgrade their Migration Status to that of being a Permanent Resident in Australia, then here’s the good news.
The most eagerly awaited Sub Class 491 (Skilled Work Regional Provisional Visa) has been introduced and it promises to make your journey to becoming a PR much more easier than before.
So what does the New SC 491 have in store for you and your spouse or partner?
• Under the new system a total of 14000 new spots are being allocated every year
• Visa that will be granted to you under SC 491 will have duration of 5 years.
• As mentioned earlier SC 491 is the new gateway for Migration and Permanent Residency in Australia. To fulfill the criteria, you must live and work in a ‘Regional Area’ for at least 3 years to be eligible for PR (SC 191).
• A ‘Regional Area’ is anywhere except metro Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth. You are allowed to move from one regional area to another during the course of the minimum mandated 3 year period of stay.
• You must also ensure that you are earning at least a minimum of AUD 53,900 per annum, every year, for 3 years.
• You will be charged an application and processing fee. The Department’s fee is AUD 4,045 and partner fee is AUD 2,025.
• PLEASE NOTE: One very important Restriction that you need to be aware of is that, 491 visa holders cannot apply for any skilled PR or even Partner or Spouse Visa for at least 3 years of their mandated stay.
New, Easy and Improved Points Test Allocation Under SC 491:
Almost everyone who applies for migration has some anxiety about the dreaded Points System. But fear not, because those days are behind us.
You will be glad to know that the allocation in the Points System under the new 491 is far more generous than what it was with 489. There is a huge bonus for unmarried or separated applicants and also for applicants who have partners with competent English.
Let’s take a detailed look at the allocations:
• 10 points for a skilled partner or spouse. (Previously only 5 points were awarded)
• 5 points for applicants with a spouse or partner with competent English. (Previously NO points were awarded)
• 10 points for applicants who are single. (A big advantage, as previously NO points were awarded for your marital status)
• 15 points if appointed by State or Territory government. (Previously it was limited to just 10)
• 15 points if the applicant is sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia. (Previously it was limited to just 10)
• 10 points for certain STEM qualifications.
Invitation Priority for 491 Visa will be based on the sequence below:
• First Priority will be given to-
o An applicant with a skilled partner or spouse.
o An applicant without a partner or spouse.
(Note: This means that you have a significant advantage if you are single. You will also have an advantage if incase you are leading towards a planned divorce with your spouse).
• Second Priority will be given to-
o Applicants with partners who have competent English but do not have any skills to be assessed.
(Note: If your partner or spouse has good English Language skills then you will get an additional 6 points)
• Third Priority will be given to-
o Applicant with partners who do not have competent English or any assessed skill points
Pathway to Permanent Residency
After securing the 491, which is a temporary visa, the applicants will have to stay in a regional area for 3 years to be eligible for the 191 visa (Permanent Residency). During their stay it is important that they comply with ALL the conditions as mentioned on their 491 visa. The Australian Government has already indicated that the applicants will be rigorously scrutinised to assess whether they have met the conditions as per the requirements under the 491 visa rules.
Restrictions on grant of Visas
Once a regional visa has been granted, you will not be granted any permanent visa over the mandated period 3 years, unless there are compelling circumstances. This change is to bind the applicants to stick to the regional areas for the stipulated 3 years.
You can move from one regional area to another but cannot stay in an area which falls outside the regional areas specified by the Department.
This is the most awaited skilled visa as most of the prospective migrants view it as their last resort. Aspiring Migrants should not be disheartened about moving to a regional area, as this will never hamper any of their goals, rather it will provide you with greater opportunities. It also aligns well with the DOHA’s recent allocation of extra spots for regional visas.