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Subclass 491 visa – building your career and pr pathways in australian regional areas

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa – Subclass 491 allows skilled workers to stay temporarily in Australia and meet the requirements to apply for a permanent resident visa.

In the past, the number of subclass 191 visas was reduced. However, in 2024, it’s estimated that 32.300 visas 191 will be granted. How to be included in the subclass 491 visa checklist? Let’s read on to get advice from our consultant – a registered migration agent in Australia.



What is a subclass 491 visa?


Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa – Subclass 491 is a substitution of a Subclass 489 visa since November 16, 2019.


This visa allows skilled workers and their eligible family members to live and work in Australian regional areas for 5 years.

The applicants must be either nominated by an Australian state/ territory government agency or sponsored by an eligible family member.

In addition, if you are about to study in Queensland, you can consider the Subclass 491 SBO visa (Small business owners). This is a Skilled visa for international students who graduate in Queensland to stay temporarily in Australia, run their business, and apply for Australia Permanent Residency.

After 3 years since making Australia 491 visa application, staying and working in a regional area, applicants may apply for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa – Subclass 191 to stay in Australia permanently.


491 visa
What is a Subclass 491 visa?


The benefits of a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa

Holding a subclass 491, you still need efforts to meet the requirements of the subclass 191 visa to become an Australian permanent resident. Besides, subclass 491 visa holders are also entitled for the following benefits:


ResidencyTo live in Australia for 5 years.
Work and study
    • Work and study in designated regions.
    • Attend a free Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).
Multiple entriesTo travel to and from Australia during the visa’s validity period.
Family members sponsorshipAllow your eligible family members to apply for the visa together with you.
CitizenshipApply for Australian citizenship after 3 years of staying and working in a regional area.


subclass 491 visa australia
The benefits of a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa


For more information about the subclass 491 benefits, please contact VEM.


The requirements of a Subclass 491 visa

The subclass 491 requirements are quite similar to the requirements for other Skilled visas, which are based on the points test system.


Subclass 491

Subclass 491 – SBO

Age limit

Must be under 45 years of age.

English language proficiency

IELTS: At least score 6.0 in each of 4 parts.

Points test

To score at least 65 points.
You can refer to section 4 to know how to earn immigration points.

Skills assessment

Must pass the skills assessment.
The assessment criteria vary on each occupation. You can contact VEM for more details.

Sponsorship/ nomination

 Must be nominated by a state/territory, or sponsored by an eligible family member that meets the following requirements:

    • Must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
    • Must be over 18 years of age and live in a designated regional area.
 Must be nominated by Queensland or other states (not all states/territories)


    • Must be included on the skilled occupation list​.
    • This list is different in each state. You can contact VEM to receive the suitable list for you.
 Must be included in the Legislative Instrument (LIN 19/051).

Job offer

To be invited to work by an Australian business.Provide evidence of business ownership and operation in Australia.

Current visa

Not required.Must hold a visa that allows full-time work and business operation (at least 35 hours per week).


Not required.  Must live and work in areas with the following postal codes:

    • 4124–4125
    • 4133
    • 4183–4184
    • 4207–4275
    • 4280–4287
    • 306–4498
    • 4507
    • 4517–4519
    • 4550–4575
    • 4580–4895


Not required.

 Must own and operate a business in Australia and meet the following requirements:

    • Have 100% ownership of the business (partnerships or joint ventures are not eligible).
    • Have operated a business for at least 6 months before applying for the visa.
    • Have at least one eligible employee who is a New Zealand citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an Australian citizen (as defined in subclass 444). The employee must work at least 20 hours per week.

 In case of purchasing an existing business, it must be:

    • In regional Queensland.
    • Operated successfully by the applicant for at least 6 months before submitting the EOI.
    • Invested at least AUD100,000.

 In case of establishing a new company, it must be:

    • Operated and profitable for at least 2 years prior to your visa application, with a revenue each year is at least AUD200,000.

You can refer to ‘The process of establishing a company in Australia’ and ‘The procedures for purchasing an existing business in Australia’ to learn more about the subclass 491 SBO visa.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

Must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and wait for the invitation to lodge the visa application.


Similar to visa 189 and visa 190, the subclass 491 allows applicants to lodge their applications and receive the visa either in or outside Australia.


subclass 491 requirements
The requirements of a Subclass 491 visa


In South Australia, the requirements to apply for a subclass 190 visa is not as demanding as before for applicants who don’t have the invitation or employment contract. You can refer to ‘How to apply for a Subclass 190 visa in South Australia’ for more details.

How to get points on a Skilled Work Regional visa?


For the applicants that meet all the requirements, the DHA will prioritise the one who has higher immigration points. Therefore, even when you get a 65 points test, you may lose the chance to apply for the subclass 491 visa.


Below are the subclass 491 points calculator for applicants provided by the DHA:


 The applicants nominated by:

    • Australian State or Territory Government.
    • Eligible family member who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
15 points
 Be single15 points
 Has a degree in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).10 points
 Has a spouse that passed the skills assessment.10 points
 Has a spouse with English language proficiency (skills assessment is not required if the spouse is over 45 years of age)5 points


Holding a subclass 500 visa is an advantage when applying for a subclass 491 visa. Additionally, some states in Australia do not require applicants for visa 491 to have graduated in that state. However, the applicant must receive an invitation to work from a local business within a 12 months invitation period.


visa 491
How to get points on a Skilled Work Regional visa?


For more than 12 years of working in the migration field, VEM noticed that many subclass 491 applications were refused despite having a points test of 70. Therefore, it’s best to get points from the beginning.


High immigration points can increase your chances of having 491 visa approval. VEM’s consultant, Mr. Peter Cao – a registered migration agent (MARN: 1577877) can support you!


The cost of a subclass 491 visa

The applicants have to pay the subclass 491 visa fee once or twice (if required).

The additional applicants must be from and over 18 years of age (and may not meet the English language requirement).


Fee for the main applicant (in AUD)Fee for the additional applicant (in AUD)
First instalment4,640
    • From and over 18 years of age: 2,320
    • Under 18 years of age: 1,160
Second instalment0
    • From and over 18 years of age: 4,890
    • Under 18 years of age: 0

Note: The fees listed above do not include a 1.4% surcharge.


In addition to the visa application fee, applicants are also required to pay fees for health examinations, biometrics, and police checks.


To successfully apply for a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa, it’s best to find a registered Australian migration agent to support you. The Australian Government recommends you to choose a reliable migration agent when you need assistance with your visa.


The process of applying for Subclass 491 visa

    • Step 1: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).
    • Step 2: Receive an invitation to apply for visa 491.
    • Step 3: Prepare the documents and apply for the visa.
    • Step 4: Provide additional documents (if required).
    • Step 5: Receive a 491 visa.

You can choose VEM as your companion. Since VEM is located in Perth (Western Australia) and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, you always receive our support.


The process of applying for subclass 491 – SBO visa

    • Step 1: Check whether you meet the requirements (refer to section 3).
    • Step 2: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to SkillSelect.
    • Step 3: Submit the Subclass 491-SBO assessment form.
    • Step 4: Receive a request from Queensland to provide documents.
    • Step 5: Prepare documents and apply for the visa.
    • Step 6: Receive an invitation, complete the application within 60 days, and apply for the visa.

To get more details about the Subclass 491-SBO visa, please refer to Section 10.


subclass 491 visa australia
The process of applying for Subclass 491 visa


Required documents for a Subclass 491 – SBO visa application


Identification documents
    • Valid passport.
    • Skills assessment outcome.

The application for Queensland State Nomination.

    • Business sale agreement (if applicable).
    • Evidence of the business management for at least 6 months.
    • Evidence of trading business for 2 years before purchasing the business.
    • Settlement Funds Declaration form.
    • Bank statements (business).
    • Evidence of business ownership or registration documents (ABN – Australian Business Number, ACN – Australian Company Number, or ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
    • ASIC statement.
    • Evidence of having at least 1 eligible employee who is Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen.
    • Utility bill or lease agreement.
    • Statement of weekly working hours according to the Australia laws.
    • Future business plan.
    • Financial statements (if purchasing an existing business).
    • Profit and loss statement.


Mr. Peter Cao (CEO of VEM), with more than 12-year experience in the Australian migration field, will support you to prove your business management.


The processing times of a Australia 491 visa


50% of applications90% of applications
State/ Territory Government Nominated Regional9 months18 months
Family Sponsored Regional9 months19 months


It’s best to be well-prepared from the beginning for your visa application. Contact VEM for further assistance.


Frequently asked questions

What are the Australia designated areas to apply for the Subclass 491 visa?

They are all states and territories of Australia, except for Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.

Can I apply for the Subclass 491 visa if I am over 45 years of age?

If you are over 45 years of age and have not submitted an EOI, you are not eligible to apply for this visa. However, if you have already submitted your EOI and are under 45 years of age at the time of submission, you’re eligible to apply for the subclass 491.

If you do not meet the requirements for the Australia 491 visa, you can refer to other Skilled visas.

Can I apply for another visa while holding a Subclass 491 visa?

No. This ensures you must live and work in a designated regional area of Australia.

Do I have to be in Australia when applying for a Subclass 491 visa?

You will be required to be in or outside Australia depending on your circumstance.

Can I run a business while studying to apply for a Subclass 491 visa?

Yes. You can refer to ‘The requirements to run a business in Australia’.

How to submit the Subclass 491 - SBO visa?

You can attach requested documents to your application through ImmiAccount. If you have multiple documents, zip them into one file before sending.

How long does it take to complete my 491 - SBO visa application?

It usually takes 14 days to complete a Subclass 491 – SBO visa application. If you cannot complete it in this period, you must apply for an extension for Queensland.

What should I do if I cannot complete my application within the invitation period?

You have to submit a new EOI to apply for the subclass 491.

Are all types of business eligible for the Subclass 491 - SBO visa?

If the business acquisition takes place from April 1, 2021 onwards, the following types of businesses are not approved:

    • Commission-based or franchisee businesses (e.g., petrol stations).
    • Home-based businesses (e.g., courier companies and cleaning services).

If the business was acquired before April 1, 2021, the applicant is not required to meet the above requirements, but have to provide financial statements.

When applying for visa 491, do I and my sponsor need to live in the same state/ territory of Australia?

No, but you still have to meet the requirements of this visa. Contact VEM for more details.

What is the main change when replacing visa 489 with visa 491?

The main difference is the validity period of the visa. Previously, the visa 489 holder could only stay in Australia for 4 years, but the visa 491 holder can stay in Australia for up to 5 years.


If you’re not clear about the Subclass 491 visa, contact VEM to get our support!


Find out more about other Australian visa:

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