Frequently Asked Questions About the 491 Visa


Frequently Asked Questions About the 491 Visa

Selecting a visa and the associated application process can be a daunting process, so we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions.

While our staff are happy to answer any questions you may have, please ensure you have read through these questions and answers before contacting us. Our staff resources are limited, so the more time we spend on the phone and replying to emails, the less time we can spend assessing applications, and in turn the longer it is for everyone to receive their outcomes.

Questions About Nomination Criteria

Why is RDA Murray not accepting offshore applications?

RDA Murray will not be accepting offshore applications until further notice.

This is due to the request from the Australian Government to prioritise on-shore applicants and the national border restrictions because of COVID-19.

Unfortunately no exceptions can be made.

What is the employment requirement under Stream 1?

An applicant must have worked in their nominated, or closely related, occupation for the 12 months immediately preceding their application in regional NSW. The employment must qualify as skilled employment under the Home Affairs points scheme, i.e. a minimum of 20 hours per week.   

How long do I have to have been living and working in the Murray Region to be eligible for Stream 1?

The standard requirement under stream 1 is to have been living and working in NSW in your nominated (or closely related) occupation for a period of 12 months.

However, NSW may consider inviting candidates under stream 1 who have been living and working in NSW in your nominated (or closely related) occupation for a minimum period of 3 months.   

I studied at a regional NSW University, but I no longer reside in NSW. Am I still eligible under Stream 2?

As long as you lived in a designated regional area of NSW while completing your study and meet the other criteria for Stream 2, you can still apply even though you no longer live in NSW.

However, you will be expected to relocate to the Murray region if you apply for a NSW nomination through RDA-Murray.

Questions About Applying

Where is the Murray region and what area does it cover?

The Murray region covers an area stretching from the Snowy Valleys through to the South Australia border and includes the local government areas of:

  • AlburyCity
  • Balranald Shire Council
  • Berrigan Shire Council
  • Edward River Council
  • Federation Council
  • Greater Hume Council
  • Murray River Council
  • Wentworth Shire Council

The Murray region also includes parts of:

  • Murrumbidgee Council
  • Snowy Valleys Council

 

Postcodes and Town/Location Names

Click here for a list of postcodes and town/location names in Murray region of New South Wales

 

Where can I live and work in NSW under the subclass 491 visa?

The Department of Home Affairs determines which regions of Australia are eligible for the 491 visa. Eligible regions are published on the Home Affairs’ designated regional area postcodes website.

If you apply to RDA Murray and this region nominates you, we expect you to have a moral obligation to fulfill your visa conditions in our region. We have collated some information about the Murray region and an indicative list of postcodes for the Murray region are available here.

What English Tests Results are accepted?

Competent English or better is a requirement for Skilled Migration. The Department of Home Affairs provides detailed information on the accepted English tests.

Do I have to use a migration agent?

No, the process is transparent and there is enough straight forward information that a migrant agent is not necessary.

However, it can be worthwhile engaging the services of a Registered Migration Agent to ensure you are on the best path and that all applications are submitted complete with all required documentation. Leaving things out can result in a negative outcome or processing delays, which can be almost as frustrating.

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority has helpful information about engaging a migration agent.

 

How long will it take?

RDA Murray works hard to keep our processing timeframe under one month. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances can cause delays. It is the applicant’s responsibility to advise us if their case is urgent (due to visa or points expiring, for example).

Can I request urgent processing of my application?

Under some limited circumstances, such an upcoming birthday that will render you ineligible to apply, we can prioritise processing of an application for you.

However, it will take four working days for your nomination to be processed by the NSW Government after we have assessed a positive application. All eligibility criteria, such as age must be met when the NSW Government process their nomination, not when we receive your application. Therefore it is not reasonable to expect your application to be processed in under seven working days.

If you need urgent processing of your application, you must contact our office before submitting your application.

How is Covid-19 impacting on Skilled Migration in Australia?

Convid-19 is logically the first priority of any Australian Government Department. Almost all visa applications that were/are lodged from offshore during the pandemic and most of those which are not on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List can expect lengthy processing timeframes from the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

Questions About 491 Visa Requirements

Do I need to work in my field when I have the 491 visa?

No. You can work in any occupation, once you have the visa. The only work requirement is that your income meets the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)  for three years, in a regional location. The TSMIT is currently AUD$53,900 p.a.

Can I travel while on the 491 visa?

Yes, you can travel to anywhere in Australia or internationally.
Covid-19 restrictions, State and National border closures and quarantining requirements/costs should be researched and considered carefully.

Am I allowed to visit a non-designated regional area like Sydney?

Condition 8549 for the 489 visa and condition 8579 for the 491 visa requires that while the visa holder is in Australia, they must live, work and study only in a designated regional area.

Condition 8579 is not intended to prevent a visa holder from engaging in incidental activities outside a Designated Regional Area (DRA). Such activities may include:

  • holidays
  • work-related travel
  • work-related training

The Department will adopt a flexible approach to the assessment of compliance with condition 8579, taking account of the personal circumstances affecting individual visa holders.

However, extended absences from the DRA may result in further scrutiny by the Department to ensure that the visa holder is or was living, working and studying in the DRA during the relevant periods.

The Department may request further evidence from the visa holder on the reason for travel outside the DRA, where:

  • the holder spends more than 90 days in total per annum outside the DRA, or
  • the holder spends more than 60 continuous days outside the DRA, or
  • there is a pattern of extended and/or frequent absences that are indicative of employment outside the DRA.

Do I need health insurance?

You are entitled to a Medicare Card once you have a 491 or 494 visa.
For Permanent Residents and Citizens of Australia, Private Health Insurance is a matter of personal choice and this is also the case for 491 and 494 visa holders.

You can find out more on our page about Private Health Insurance and Medicare for skilled migrants.