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Overview

The subclass 494 visa, also known as the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) visa, is an Australian visa designed to support local businesses and address labor shortages in regional areas of the country. This visa allows regional employers to sponsor skilled workers to work for their business where they can’t find an appropriately skilled Australia workers.   

The 494 visa holders are required to work for their sponsoring employer in their nominated occupation for a specified period, usually three years. They are also required to live and work in a designated regional area to fulfill their visa conditions. 

This visa subclass includes 3 streams:  

  • Employer Sponsored Stream: This stream is designed for skilled workers sponsored by regional employers who face recognised labour shortages in their area and are unable to find a suitably qualified Australian worker. 
  • Labour Agreement Stream: This stream is designed for skilled workers who are nominated by regional employers with a labour agreement. Labor agreements are mutually established agreements between the Australian Government and employers. 
  • Subsequent Entrant: This visa stream is intended for family members of a Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) holder who are applying for a separate SESR visa and want to join the primary SESR visa holder in Australia. 

Benefits of 494 visa?  

  • Study, Employment and Work Rights:  

Visa holders can live, study and work in a designated regional area, contributing to the growth and development of these regions. 

  • Travel:  

The length of this visa is 5 years, which means you can travel to and from Australia for 5 years for many times you want.  

  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: 

One of the significant advantages of the 494 visa is that it provides a pathway to permanent residency in Australia. 

After holding the 494 visa for 3 years and satisfying specific requirements, visa holders can apply for the Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) visa. 

  • Family Inclusion: 

Visa holders can include certain family members in their application, such as spouses, partners, and dependent children. 

Family members granted visas will have similar work and study rights. 

How many steps to apply for an Australia 494 visa? 

Similar to applying for other employer sponsored visas, the 494 visa application process involves actions and responsibilities of both employers and sponsored employees.   

Step 1: Check if you are eligible for a 494 visa  

This visa is issued to help regional businesses in Australia hire a skilled foreign worker where they cannot find an Australian employee to meet their job requirements. Therefore, your occupation must be on the relevant skilled occupation list issued by the Department of Home Affairs.  

Secondly, you must check if you satisfy all general requirements of visa 494 together with the specific requirements for the visa stream that you are applying for. Once you meet all the requirements, you can start asking your employer to lodge the nomination for you.  

Step 2: Your employer lodges a nomination application   

Before you can apply for a 494 visa, your employer must create an account on ImmiAccount and lodge a nomination application to the Department of Home Affairs. The application requirements differ between streams, however generally your employer needs to assure that (1) his/her business is operating lawfully and actively, (2) he/she actively advertise the job but can’t find an appropriate Australian worker, (3) having you working for this employer is a genuine need, (4) having a legal contract with you, and (5) the salary paid to you is in accordance with at least the Australian market salary rate.   

Once your employer is approved to be a sponsor and nominates you for a skilled occupation position, you can apply for a 494 visa.  

Step 3: You apply for a 494 visa   

Before lodging for a 494-visa application, you must prepare all required documents ready to submit. These documents vary depending on which stream you are applying for, but they may include identity documents, skills and qualifications documents, English language certificate, health and character checks, and second applicants’ documents if any. Read the next section of this blog to know more about the requirements of visa 494.  

Importantly, you must lodge the application no later than 6 months after your employer’s nomination is approved by the Department of Home Affairs.

What are the requirements for a 494 visa? 

As mentioned earlier, you must meet both the general requirements for a 494 visa and specific requirements for the stream that you are applying for.   

The requirements for Employer Sponsored Stream and Labour Agreement Stream 

You must:   

  • have an occupation on the relevant skills list, 
  • have been nominated by an approved Australian employer, 
  • have at least 3 years full time work experience in your sponsored occupation.  
  • have a positive skill assessment to demonstrate your qualifications, skills and work experience. Please note that if the positive skill assessment is compulsory for the Employer Sponsored Stream. However, for Labour Agreement Stream, if the skill assessment is not specified in the labour agreement, then probably you may not need it.  
  • received an IELTS (or equivalent English test) score of 6.0 or higher in each component,  
  • be less than 45 years old at the time of application,  
  • have a good character record and be of good health,  
  • not have had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused. 

You can be exempt from the age limit requirements if you:   

  • are nominated by an Australian university to work as university lecturer or faculty head at Academic level B, C, D, or E.  
  • are nominated by an Australian scientific government agency to work as a scientist, researcher, or technical specialist at ANZSCO skill level 1 or 2.   
  • are holding a New Zealand citizen’s family member (subclass 461) or Special Category (subclass 444) visa and have worked for your sponsoring employer in the nominated position for at least 2 years in the last 3 years.   

Please note that you only can apply for the Labour Agreement Stream if your sponsor has a labour agreement with the Australian Government.  

The requirements for Subsequent Entrant  

  •  This stream is for a family member of a main applicant of a SESR 494 visa or of a primary SESR visa holder. You must satisfy this requirement.  
  •  You must be nominated by the employer who sponsored the primary SESR visa holder/applicant. This means that the work sponsor (employer) must agree to include you as a family member in the nomination.  
  • You must have received an IELTS (or equivalent English test) score of 4.5 or higher in each component. If you don’t meet the English requirement, the additional cost of AUD4,890 will be applied. This extra cost is called as a second instalment.  
  • You must have a good character record and be of good health. 
  • You have not had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused. 

How much does it cost to apply for 494 visas? 

 

Visa Streams  Employer Sponsored Stream  Labour Agreement Stream  Subsequent Entrant 
Base application charge  AUD4,640  AUD4,640  AUD4,640 
Additional applicant charge (18 and over)      AUD2,320.00 
Additional applicant charge (under 18)      AUD1,160.00 
Additional applicant charge (subsequent entrant does not have functional English)      AUD4,890 
Sponsorship fee  N/A  N/A  N/A 
Nomination fee  N/A  N/A  N/A 
Skilling Australian Fund Levy, paid by employer  Small (annual turnover less than $10 million): AUD3000 

Other business (annual turnover of $10 million or more): AUD5000 

Small (annual turnover less than $10 million): AUD3000 

Other business (annual turnover of $10 million or more): AUD5000 

N/A 

 

How to bring family members to Australia under a visa 494? 

You are allowed to bring your family members in Australia under visa 494. You can include them in the original visa application, or you can add them later when you get visa 494. For visa purposes, your family members are defined as (1) your spouse or your de facto partner, (2) your children or/and your partner’s children and (3) the dependent children of your children/your partner’s children.   

You must demonstrate that you are in a genuine relationship with your partner. If married, you must provide your marriage certificate. If you are in a de-facto relationship, you need to prove that you and your partner are living together for at least 12 months or have registered the Civil Partnership Certificate under one of the Australian State or Territory Government. 

Your family member needs to lodge a separate application, under Subsequent Entrant stream. Please note that your family members need to get the approval (in writing) from your work sponsor (employer) before they can apply for the 494 visa.  

FAQs

Who is eligible for the Subclass 494 visa?

To be eligible for the Subclass 494 visa, the most important things are you typically need to have a job offer from an employer in a designated regional area and your employer must agree to nominate you for this visa. Your employer must also be an approved sponsor. For other requirements, please refer to the section “What are the requirements for a 494 visa?in this blog.  

How long is a 494 visa valid for?

A Subclass 494 visa in Australia is typically valid for up to five years, which means you can travel from and to Australia for up to 5 years.  

What are the conditions of the Subclass 494 visa?

Below are highlighted conditions of a 494 visa:  

8578 – Must notify of certain changes  

8579 – Must live, work and/or study in a regional area  

8580 – Must provide evidence of your address to demonstrate your residency  

8608 – Must work in approved employer and occupation only  

Where is considered as regional areas in Australia?

All regions in Australia, except for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, are considered regional areas for migration purposes.  

What is the 494 visa processing time?

The processing time for a 494 visa is quite long, as per below:  

90% of the Employer Sponsor Stream are processed within 14 months.  

90% of the Labour Agreement Stream are processed within 6 months.  

Does a 494 a permanent visa in Australia?

The Subclass 494 visa is a temporary visa, but it can lead to permanent residency in Australia after holding it for three years. 

What is the pathway from a 494 visa to PR in Australia?

One of the most popular pathways to permanent residency (PR) from a Subclass 494 visa is through the Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) visa. To get the PR through 191 visa, you must:  

  • Have held a 494 visa for at least 3 years.  
  • Live and work in a designated regional area for at least 3 years 
  • Have the salary equal or above current TSMIT for at least 3 years out of the 5 years of your 494 visa. The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is currently set at AUD53,900 for Nomination applications lodged up to and on 30 June 2023. AUD70,000 for Nomination applications lodged on, and after 1 July 2023. 
  • Meet your health requirement. 
  • Meet you character requirement.  
  • You have not had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused. 

What is the difference between Subclass 494 and Subclass 491 visas?

The Subclass 494 and Subclass 491 are both temporary visas and require visa holders to live and work in a regional area of Australia. Both visa subclasses have pathways to permanent residency. However, Subclass 491 visa (Skilled Work Regional – Provisional) is a state-nominated visa, while the Subclass 494 is an employer-sponsored visa.  

Can I change employers while holding a Subclass 494 visa?

One of the conditions of visa 494 is the condition 8608. This condition requires you to work for the employer that sponsors you, in the nominated occupation. Therefore, changing employers while holding a Subclass 494 visa may be possible, but it generally requires the new employer to be your new approved sponsor before you can work for him/her. Also, you must work in your nominated occupation even when you change the employer. Lastly, you must ensure that there is no interruption in your employment for more than 90 consecutive days. 

When do I need to start working under visa 494?

You are required to commence your employment within 90 days of either: 

  • Entering Australia (if you are outside of Australia at the time of visa grant), or 
  • The 494 visa grant date if you are already in Australia when the visa is granted. 

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