[NEWS] Regional Visas & 186 TRT: 31 October Announcements

On the 31st October, a suite of new legislation came in place affecting the skilled migration program, particularly the regional skilled visas. Our Principal Migration Agent has reviewed all of these and has condensed these down to the 6 key things you need to know.

  1. Subclass 491 & 494 visa holders are eligible for Medicare

  2. 491 and 494 visa occupation lists announced

  3. Changes in assessment authorities for Child Care Centre Manager and Podiatrists

  4. New exemptions introduced for 494 visa applicants

  5. 491 & 494 visa holders can access 510 hours of English classes

  6. 5-year-study English exemption removed for 186 TRT stream

Here's a refresher just before we start:

  • The 494 visa will be replacing the 187 RSMS visa. It is an employer-sponsored visa for regional areas. It is a temporary visa that allows for PR after 3 years.

  • The 491 visa replaces the 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa

For more information on these new regional visas, please see our blog post here.

1. Subclass 494 & 491 visa holders are eligible for Medicare

To attract more talent to the regional areas, the Department of Health have announced that both Subclasses 494 and 491 visa holders will be eligible for Medicare.

Currently, under the 489 Skilled Regional visa and the 482 TSS visa, visa holders do not have access to Medicare (unless they are from reciprocal healthcare arrangement countries). Without Medicare, all medical treatments need to be paid for out of pocket by the visa holder.

With this new legislation, 491 and 494 visa holders will be able to save thousands of dollars in private health insurance and potential medical fees.

NOTE: You need to have been granted the 491 or 494 visa to be eligible for Medicare, simply having lodged the application is not enough. You'll need to also maintain health insurance if it's a condition on your current visa until your 491 or 494 visa is granted.

2. 494 & 491 visa occupation lists announced

The occupation lists for the 494 and 491 visas have been confirmed.

The 494 visa's occupation list is almost exactly the same as that of the 187 RSMS visa. It consists of 650 occupations. Unlike the 482 TSS visa, all of these occupations, whether on the Medium-Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) or the Regional Occupation List (ROL) all have pathways to PR.

The occupation list for the 491 visa is almost exactly the same as that of the 489 visa. There are a total of 504 occupations, 289 have pathways to PR whilst 215 do not (if being sponsored by family members).

Click here to see our updated, easy-to-understand Ultimate Guide to Immigration Occupation Lists comparison table.

3. Changes in assessment authorities for Child Care Centre Manager & Podiatrists

Skills assessments for Child Care Centre Manager and Podiatrists will need to be completed with a different assessment authority for the 491 and 494 visas.

Instead of TRA, Child Care Centre Managers will need to complete skills assessments with ACECQA. Instead of the Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council Limited, Podiatrists will need to complete theirs with PodBA.

4. New exemptions introduced for certain 494 visa applicants


The following applicants don't have to be under the age of 45:

a) Academic applicants

b) Regional medical practitioner applicants

c) Science applicants

d) Subclass 444/461 workers

e) Subclass 457/482 workers

Skill & Employment:

The following applicants don't need to pass skills assessment requirements, don't have to be employed in the nominated occupation for at least 3 years on a full-time basis at the required skill level of the nominated occupation:

a) Academic applicants

b) Subclass 444/461 workers

5. 491 & 494 visa holders can access 510 hours of English classes

As with the current 489 and 187 visas, a $4,890 second instalment charge (aka 'English education charge') applies to any applicants over the age of 18 that don't have functional English. This charge obliges the government to provide, or arrange for provision of, up to 510 hours of tuition in an approved English course.

Previously, visa holders would need to pay this charge but are not eligible to enrol in these classes.

Now, 491 and 494 visa holders will be eligible to enrol in the Australian Government Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and access up 510 hours of English classes.

6. 5-year-study English exemption removed for 186 TRT stream

Currently, Subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants are exempt from doing an English test to prove they have Competent English if they completed at least 5 years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution where all tuition was delivered in English. From 16 November, this exemption is removed.

Not sure what this means for you? Concerned about your PR options?

Book in for a free consultation to speak 1-to-1 with our migration experts today!


Medicare eligibility: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019N00081

494 exemptions: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01404

494 assessment authorities: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01405

494 occupation list: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01403

491 assessment authorities and occupation list: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01402

Access to English classes: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01406

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