494 Visa: Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa (Subclass 494)

What is the 494 skilled employer sponsored visa?

The 494 skilled employer-sponsored visa that replaced the 187 (RSMS) visa on 16 November 2019.

A total of 9,000 places will be allocated to the 494 visa program every year. The 494 visa does not grant immediate permanent residency, like the 187 RSMS visa did. However, 494 visa holders may be eligible for the 191 skilled regional permanent residency visa after a number of years.


Do you qualify for a visa?

Free Assessment

Can my employer nominate me for a 494 visa?

  • Your employer must be in a designated regional area of Australia (excludes employers in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne). Perth and the Gold Coast are considered regional areas
  • Your position is on the relevant occupation list (over 700 occupations)
  • Your employer will need approval from the Regional Certifying Body (RCB) in your area
  • The role must be full-time, genuine and likely to be available for five years
  • You must be paid at the market salary rate
  • Employer must pay the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy
  • Must be an approved sponsor. Australian employers that are already hold approval do not need to apply again

How do I meet the 494 visa requirements?

  • Must hold a suitable skills assessment at the time of application
  • Have at least three years of full-time and relevant skilled work experience. This work experience must have been undertaken at the level required for the role you’re being nominated in
  • Be under 45 years of age at the time of application. *Some exemptions do apply, but generally this is the case
  • You must demonstrate Competent English

How does the 494 visa lead to permanent residency?

The subclass 494 is a five-year visa. You can access permanent residence through the Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) visa when the following is met:

  1. You have worked in the designated regional area for at least three years, whilst holding a 494 visa
  2. Show earnings of at least $53,900 for three years. If you have a partner, only one of you needs to show this salary level (through tax returns) and this person would be the main applicant for the 191 visa

You do NOT need to be nominated by an employer to make an application for the 191 visa. This is a major difference to the RSMS 187 visa.

Can I change employers?

You can move to a new employer, but the new nomination must be lodged within 90 days. They’ll also need to meet the same requirements as your previous sponsor, such as obtaining Regional Certifying Body approval, paying the SAF levy and ensuring that you’re paid the correct rate for the role.

How much is the SAF levy?

A Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy must be paid for each nomination that an employer makes under the 494 program.

  • Businesses with turnovers under $10m, must make a one-off, upfront payment of $3,000 per employee they nominate
  • Businesses turning over more than $10m, must make a one-off, upfront payment of $5,000 per nominee

SAF levy funds go towards training Australian permanent residents and citizens.

Is health insurance required for a 494 visa?

You’ll be eligible to enrol in Australia’s Medicare program, so private health insurance is not required.

Other conditions

Generally, you won’t be able to apply for other skilled PR visas or partner visas whilst you’re on the subclass 494.

What happens to 187 applications not decided by 16 November 2019?

The RSMS subclass 187 program will remain open for visa applicants who:

  • On 20 March 2019, held a temporary skill shortage (482) visa in the medium-term stream, or had applied for a 482 visa in the medium-term stream that was subsequently granted, or
  • On 18 April 2017 held a temporary work (457) visa; or had applied for a 457 visa that was subsequently granted it.

‘Orphan’ 187 nominations submitted before 16 November 2019 will be viewed as withdrawn on 16 November 2019 if:

  1. No decision has been made on the nomination before 16 November, and
  2. Nominee is not transitional 457 or 482 employee, and
  3. Nominee has not applied for a 187 visa before 16 November
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