494 SKILLED EMPLOYER SPONSORED TEMPORARY RESIDENCE VISA KNOWLEDGE BASE

In a previous blog article, we announced the introduction of two new regional visas that took effect on 16 November 2019.

In this Knowledge Base article, we explain the requirements for applying for a 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Temporary Residence Visa for individuals who are able to secure work with employers in designated regional areas.

This article will focus on the more common “employer sponsored stream”. If you require advice on the separate “labour agreement stream”, please contact us.

 

Immigration Policy for Regional Areas

One of Australia’s current immigration policies is to create a highly skilled workforce in regional areas. The intended goals of this policy are to, firstly, relieve the growing population pressure in metropolitan city centres and, secondly, to counteract the number of skilled workers leaving regional areas to find work in metropolitan cities. For these reasons, the Australian immigration authorities are encouraging skilled foreign workers to relocate, settle and work in designated regional areas by offering a temporary residence visa that requires them to live and work in regional areas with the prospect of later applying for, and be granted, a permanent residence visa.

 

Employer Requirements

  • The employer must be an approved business sponsor OR have lodged a business sponsorship at the Department of Home Affairs. A business may continue to assist a 494 Visa applicant only after obtaining a business sponsorship approval.
  • The 494 Visa applicant must be nominated by an employer whose business is lawfully operating in a designated regional area.
  • The 494 Visa applicant must be employed to work in the nominated occupation within the sponsoring business or an associated entity of that business located in a designated regional area.

 

Employee Requirements

Age threshold and exemptions

The primary 494 Visa applicant must be under 45 years of age at the time of visa application, unless an  exemption from the age requirement applies.

The primary 494 Visa applicant may be 45 years or older at the time of visa application if they:

  • are nominated as an academic (University Lecturer or Faculty Head at Academic Level A, B, C, D or E) by a university in Australia; or
  • are nominated as a medical practitioner on a 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa and have been employed in that occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in a designated regional area; or
  • are nominated as a medical practitioner on a 482 TSS Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and have been employed in that occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in a  designated regional area; or
  • are nominated as a scientist, researcher or technical (scientific) specialist at ANZSCO skill level 1 or 2 by an Australian scientific government agency or Australian university; or
  • are currently holding a 444 Special Category Visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in a designated regional area; or
  • are currently holding a 461 New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in a designated regional area; or
  • are currently holding a 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa OR a 482 TSS Temporary Skill Shortage Visa working in the nominated occupation with the same nominating employer in a designated regional area for at least three (3) years while earning remuneration equal to or greater than the Fair Work High Income Threshold  that applied at the end of the relevant year for each of the three years.

 

The current High Income Threshold can be found here: https://www.fwc.gov.au/unfair-dismissals-benchbook/coverage-unfair-dismissal/high-income-threshold

These are the High Income Thresholds for the last four years:

Financial YearEarnings (AUD$)
01 July 2019 – 30 June 2020$148,700
01 July 2018 – 30 June 2019:$145,400
01 July 2017 – 30 June 2018$142,000
01 July 2016 – 30 June 2017$138,900

 

The remuneration amounts above include guaranteed allowances but exclude superannuation.

 

Employee’s occupation must be on the skilled occupation list

The primary applicant for a 494 Visa must ensure they nominate an occupation that is currently on the appropriate occupations list.

If the occupation the visa applicant wishes to nominate is not on the list above, they will not be eligible to apply for a 494 Visa.

 

Employee must be able to demonstrate at least three years’ relevant employment experience in the nominated occupation, unless exempt

The primary 494 Visa applicant must obtain employment references (signed and dated on employer letterhead) confirming they have at least three years’ relevant employment experience at the same level as the nominated occupation they wish to work in.

For example, if a primary 494 Visa applicant nominates the skilled occupation ANZSCO141111 Café or Restaurant Manager, he or she must provide employment references totalling at least 3 years’ employment experience at the level of Café or Restaurant Manager.

If the applicant had two year’s experience working in a restaurant as a Waiter, but only one year’s experience as a Restaurant Manager, this would not be sufficient.

The primary 494 Visa applicant will be exempt from demonstrating they possess at least three years’ relevant employment experience in the nominated occupation at that level if they:

  • are nominated as an academic (University Lecturer or Faculty Head at Academic Level A, B, C, D or E) by a university in Australia; or
  • currently hold a 444 Special Category Visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in regional Australia; or
  •  currently hold a 461 New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in regional Australia.

 

Employee must obtain a positive skills assessment certificate for the nominated occupation, unless exempt

The primary 494 Visa applicant must obtain a positive Skills Assessment Certificate from the appropriate Skills Assessing Authority for the nominated occupation prior to applying for the 494 Visa.

A positive Skills Assessment Certificate previously obtained for a 485 Temporary Graduate Visa is not appropriate for the purposes of applying for a 494 Visa.

A positive Skills Assessment Certificate previously obtained for a 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa or for a 482 TSS Temporary Skill Shortage Visa can be used if the document is dated less than three years from the date of issue when the 494 Visa is applied for.

The list of Skills Assessment Authorities for eligible 494 Visa occupations can be found here.

A 494 Visa applicant will be exempt from obtaining a positive Skills Assessment Certificate from the appropriate Skills Assessing Authority for the nominated occupation if they:

  • are nominated as an academic (University Lecturer or Faculty Head at Academic Level A, B, C, D or E) by a university in Australia; or
  • currently hold a 444 Special Category visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in regional Australia; or
  • currently hold a 461 New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa and have been employed in the nominated occupation for three years with at least two years of this time employed in regional Australia.

 

Employee must demonstrate a “Competent” level of English language ability, unless exempt

The primary 494 Visa applicant must obtain an English language test result from one of the five accredited English Language Testing Centres. The document must demonstrate the primary 494 Visa applicant has a “Competent” level of English language ability.

The table below lists the respective English Language Testing Centres and the corresponding scores demonstrating a “Competent” level of English language ability:

TestRequired Score to Demonstrate “Competent” English Level
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)At least 6 for each of the 4 tested components
Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)At least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)At least 50 for each of the 4 tested components
Occupational English Test (OET)At least B for each of the 4 tested components
​Cambridge C1 Advanced testAt least 169 in each of the 4 tested components

 

At the time of applying for the 494 Visa, the document demonstrating the visa applicant’s “Competent” level of English language ability must be dated less than 3 years from when it was issued.

The primary 494 Visa applicant will be exempt from demonstrating they have a “Competent” level of English language ability if they are a citizen of, and hold a valid passport issued by, one the following countries:

  • Canada; or
  • New Zealand; or
  • the Republic of Ireland; or
  • the United Kingdom; or
  • the United States of America

 

Accompanying dependent family members

The primary 494 Visa applicant may include members of their family unit such as their:

  • husband or wife; or
  • de facto partner; or
  • child or children born from the relationship; or
  • children formally adopted by the primary visa applicant and their partner.

 

If the primary applicant wishes to include a child aged 18 years or older in the 494 Visa application, that child must be financially dependent on the primary visa applicant.

The definition of “financially dependent” includes but is not limited to the following scenarios:

  • Child still living with the primary applicant and not working; or
  • Child still living with the primary applicant and incapable of not working (for various reasons); or
  • Child still living with the primary applicant and working on a casual or part-time basis; or
  • Child still living with the primary applicant and studying at a tertiary education and not working; or
  • Child still living with the primary applicant and studying at a tertiary education and working on a casual or part-time basis; or
  • Child living away from the primary applicant while studying at a tertiary education and not working (primary applicant pays all living expenses); or
  • Child living away from the primary applicant while studying at a tertiary education and working on a casual or part-time basis (primary applicant pays a substantial part of the living expenses).

 

Character requirements

The primary 494 Visa applicant and any accompanying family members aged 16 years or older must provide the appropriate penal clearance certificate (or “police checks”) required by the Department of Home Affairs.

The police checks will be required from all countries the 494 Visa applicants have lived for 12 months in the last 10 years.

The specific Australian police check document can be found here.

The specific overseas police check document(s) can be found here by entering the relevant country in the text fee box and clicking on the “Police Check” downdrop option.

The Department of Home Affairs considers police checks to be valid for visa application purposes if the document is dated less than 12 months from the date of issue.

If the 494 primary visa applicant or any of their accompanying family member(s) are unable to obtain a police check from a country they are required to (for various issues or laws in that country), then the Department of Home Affairs may arrange for a formal waiver of the requirement to provide a police check from that country.

 

Health Requirements

The primary 494 Visa applicant and any accompanying family members must meet the health requirements for the 494 Visa.

Health checks are undertaken after the 494 Visa application is lodged and must be done in Australia or at an accredited overseas panel clinic (enter the relevant country in the text fee box and click on the “Panel Physician” downdrop option).

If the health check clinic requires additional tests from any of the 494 Visa applicant(s), this will be referred to the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC). The MOC will then liaise further with the affected 494 visa applicant(s).

 

Costs

The associated government lodgement fees as at December 2019 (subject to change at short notice) for a 494 Visa are as follows:

  • Business Sponsorship for the employer: AUD$420
  • Primary 494 visa applicant: AUD$4,045
  • Secondary 494 visa applicant aged 18 years or over = AUD$2,025
  • Secondary 494 visa applicant less than 18 years = AUD$1,010

 

Conditions Imposed on Approved 494 Visas

Once a foreign national receives an approval notification from the Department of Home Affairs, their 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored (Provisional) Temporary Residence Visa will:

  • Be valid for five years from date of approval; and
  • Enable the visa holders to live in a designated regional area;
  • Enable the primary visa holder to work in the nominated occupation for their nominating employer located in a designated regional area;
  • Require the primary 494 Visa holder to commence employment in their nominated occupation with their nominating employer located in a designated regional area within 90 days of the 494 Visa approval;
  • Enable the 494 Visa holder(s) to travel out of (and back into) Australia for 5 years from the date of the 494 Visa approval.

 

The full list of 494 Visa conditions are found here by entering “494” in the text fee box.

 

The 191 (Skilled Regional) Permanent Residence Visa

After living and working in a designated regional area on an approved 494 Visa, the primary visa applicant may be eligible to apply for a 191 Skilled Regional Permanent Residence Visa.

The 191 PR Visa will formally come into effect on 16 November 2022 and will be available to eligible 494 Visa holders.

At this early stage, the 191 PR Visa application will require the primary 494 Visa holder to demonstrate that:

  1. They have lived in a designated regional area by providing rental receipts or documents demonstrating a purchase of property; and
  2. They have been working for the nominating employer located in a designated regional area by providing Income Tax Statements issued by the Australian Tax office for at least three full financial years.

 

More details on the 191 PR visa will be provided once this visa has formally commenced operation.

 

 

How Employment Innovations can help

At Employment Innovations, we provide clients with high-quality migration services, including managing business sponsorship obligations. Our qualified migration agents can help with any visa and sponsorship needs.

Contact us to learn more or call 1300 144 120 to speak with one of our migration agents today.

 

About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.

Disclaimer

The information provided in these knowledge base articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.

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