Guide to Australian Regional Visas

Regional Australia is a vast and vibrant region that provides opportunities and a lifestyle that you cannot find in the cities. If you are looking for an affordable place to live with good schooling, a strong and supportive community and less time spent in traffic, then you should consider your eligibility for one of the regional visas.  

Even if you would eventually like to settle in one of the major cities, a few years in one of the regional areas might be the fastest way to a full visa in the future.

Depending on the skills that you have, it may be possible to get sponsored by an Australian State Government. This may allow you to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. In some cases, it is possible to include family members in your application as well.

Each State and Territory Government has their own list of occupations that are in short supply. These occupations can come with specific requirements around experience, English language ability, or other specialised skills. However, if you can qualify for an Australian State Sponsored Visa, it can make the application process much easier.

Regional Visa Classes

The Australian Government is committed to supporting migrants to settle in regional areas.  It has announced changes to encourage migration. These changes are:  

  • New skilled regional provisional visas that provide a pathway to permanent residence:
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)(subclass 491)
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)(subclass 494)
  • The Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) will be available from November 2022. 
  • A new skilled regional permanent resident visa 
  • A refined definition of ‘regional Australia’ for migration purposes 
  • Additional points under the Skilled Migration Points Test for skilled migrants nominated to live and work in regional Australia 
  • More options for international students who graduate from regional universities 


How do I get an Australian regional visa?

We can provide you, or your prospective employer, with detailed information about how this process works and can assist you with the following visas: 

  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)(subclass 494) 
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) 
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional)(subclass 489) 
  • Skilled Regional (subclass 887) 
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)(subclass 491) 

What is the difference between 489 and 491 visas?

The 491 visa is basically an upgrade of the 489 visa. This was introduced by the Department of Home Affairs in November 2019 and, in November 2022, it will come with a new permanent visa pathway. Other changes include:

  • Access to an increased number of eligible occupations (over 500) 
  • The visa validity will increase from four years to five years.
  • The time you will have to live and work in regional Australia in order to be eligible for permanent residency will increase from two years to three years
  • There will be an Increase in points awarded:
    • State nomination or family sponsorship (10 to 15)
    • Partner skills (5 to 10)
    • Partner English (5 to 10)
    • Selected STEM occupations (5 to 10)
    • Applicants without a spouse or partner will receive an additional 10 points. 
  • The Government has promised Priority processing of applications 
  • You will be able to live in most areas of Australia, except the metropolitan areas of such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth andGold Coast.

Is a 491 visa permanent?

The 491 visa is not automatically permanent but it will allow eligible skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in designated regional areas of Australia for a period of 5 years. After 3 years, 491 visa holders will be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residency.


What are the requirements for a regional visa?

There are no concrete rules for regional visas because of the concessions available. The Australian government is much more lenient when granting a regional visa so your chances are much higher of being accepted. The best way to find out if you can qualify for a 491 visa is to contact us for a discussion and to register your interest. We can look at the occupation list together and find out if there is an appropriate category that you will fit into.

One we determine the correct skills category, we can prepare a visa application where we ensure that your nomination criteria and expression of interest meet the government guidelines. From there, we complete and submit your application so that you can be living and working in Australia as soon as possible.


State Sponsored Visa Application Process 

There is a three-step application process to get a State-Sponsored Visa: 

Step 1 – Skills Assessment

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will check to see if you have the required level of skill to practice in Australia. 

Step 2 – Lodge and Expression of Interest

Once you have a positive result from your Skills Assessment, step 2 is to submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect. At this stage, you apply for State sponsorship from either one or more Australian States or Territories. 

Remember, you also need to meet the sponsorship requirements of the state you seek sponsorship from. 

Step 3  – You receive an “Invitation to Apply”

Once you have successfully completed step 1 and 2, you will be offered an “Invitation To Apply” for your visa. This means you can continue to the final stage of your application knowing that you have a very good chance of being accepted into your new role.

Contact us for more information

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)  

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) are a formal arrangement between the Commonwealth of Australia and a Designated Area Representative (DAR). A DAR may be a state or territory government or regional body.  DAMA enables employers in designated areas to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. The DAMA has more flexible requirements than are available with the standard skilled visa programs. 

A broader range of overseas workers are available because of a variations to standard occupations and skills lists such as the following:

  • Age concessions
  • Skills and experience concessions
  • Negotiable concessions to visa requirements.
  • English language requirement concessions for certain occupations
  • Broader occupation lists compared to the Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) short-term and medium-term lists


DAMA is a practical way to match regional labour-market needs with the government’s migration program. They address the skills needs of regional Australia whilst also offering a permanent visa pathway for people who may not meet the criteria for another visa. The 2 new DAMAs for South Australia focus on Adelaide’s high-tech growth industries including defence, space, technology and advanced manufacturing industries, and South Australia’s regional high growth industries including health and social services, tourism and hospitality, agribusiness, forestry, construction and mining. These agreements cover 170 occupations and provide sponsorship for more than 1000 people. It’s certainly a great time to relocate to South Australia.  


To find out more about Australian Regional Visas and your options, book an introductory chat