Settlement Guide

Skilled migration to regional Australia

Source: Getty Images

With the permanent migration program getting increasingly competitive, regional migration is becoming a preferred pathway to permanent residency in Australia for foreign skilled workers onshore as well as overseas.

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa Subclass 491 and Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa Subclass 494 enable international skilled workers to migrate to regional Australia.

These provisional visas allow successful applicants, aged under 45, to stay in Australia for up to five years, and when and if eligible, to apply for a permanent residency.


Key points:

  • Overseas skilled workers can migrate to regional Australia through visa subclasses 491 and 494
  • Applicants are allowed to migrate with their families
  • Eligible workers can apply for Australian permanent residency

The cost is AUD 4,045 for the main applicant, and there are additional charges for each member of the family included in the application.

Worker in uniform beside a coal conveyer belt
Getty Images/Pamspix

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa Subclass 491

Before applying for this visa, you need to obtain a nomination from an Australian state or territory government.

Your occupation must be on the eligible skilled occupation list, which varies between states and territories and responds to changes in the Australian labour market.

The Department of Jobs and Small Business regularly updates a range of skill shortages in Australia. 

Secondly, you need to submit an expression of interest using SkillSelect, a free immigration online application portal for skilled workers or business operators who are interested in migrating to Australia, permanently or temporarily.

Skillselect will give you an indicative points score based on your claimed education, work experience, English proficiency and other qualifications. A minimum points score of 65 is needed, but this can vary between states and territories as each government has its own nomination criteria.

You will also need a suitable skill assessment from the relevant assessing authority for your occupation.

Warehouse workers
Getty images/Tempura

Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa Subclass 494

The visa enables regional employers who cannot source appropriately skilled Australian workers, to sponsor foreign skilled workers.

There are two visa streams – ‘Employer-Sponsored stream’ and ‘Labour Agreement stream’.

For the ‘Employer-Sponsored stream’, your employer needs to lodge a nomination application once their business has been approved for a work sponsorship in a designated regional area.

The Labour Agreement stream requires that your occupation is subject to a labour agreement between the Australian Government and employers who have a demonstrated need for workers that cannot be met in the Australian labour market.

Currently, there are nine industry agreements in place - Dairy, Fishing, Meat, Minister of Religion, On-hire, Pork, Restaurant (fine dining), Advertising and Horticulture.

For both streams, you need to meet minimum standards of English proficiency and have a suitable skill assessment for your profession.

woman on a swing in Albury NSW
Getty Images/Cavan Images

However, leaving your home to seek work in an unknown remote place can never be easy.

There is so much to take into consideration; not just the job; the combination has to be right – for the whole family. 

Regional Australia Institute CEO, Jack Archer, says the settlement experience depends on both the characteristics of the town and the personal attributes of the new migrants.

He points out that often the critical issue for migrants in regional areas is the actual process of integration into local life.

A house, a job, a social life. All those things equally matter.

Akilesh Murthy is an Indian migrant who moved with his wife to Albury-Wodonga, a regional twin-city town on the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

He says the town and the community have exceeded their expectations as the family values are very similar to what they were used to back home in India.

I decided to try and adapt to Australian culture as soon as possible.

In the local library, Mr Murthy found necessary information about his new community, and he used a common interest in Indian and Australian culture to adapt to his new home. He joined the North Albury cricket club.

I made a lot of friends in the cricket club, they helped us a lot, and the rest is history.

Find out more about the Skilled Occupation List.

Visit the Australian Government’s website for general inquires on regional initiatives and search under your corresponding state or territory.

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