John McQuaid

Will changes to regional skilled visa pathway affect me?

John McQuaid answers your immigration questions.

John McQuaid answers your immigration questions.

Hi John, I’m sponsored on a temporary 482 visa working for my employer in Dubbo western NSW. I’m eligible to be nominated for permanent residency in December this year but now I’ve heard the permanent 187 visa is being closed in November. Is this true? What can I do? Jarleth T

Dear Jarleth, Yes, in early April, Immigration announced a number of changes to the Regional Skilled visa program.

‘Regional’ for the most part means any area in Australia outside Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. As part of the changes the Regional Sponsored Migration Stream (RSMS) 187 visa path will close on November 16, 2019. However, there are transitional arrangements or exemptions for anyone who holds or applied for a 482 visa on or before March 20, 2019.

If the above dates apply to you, you will still be able to apply for the 187 visas after November. The exemptions will also apply to anyone who holds or applied for the old 457 visas on or before April 17, 2017. You could also consider whether you can meet the requirements to apply for the 187 earlier via the Direct Entry Stream. This option does not require you to have worked for the employer on the 482/457 visa but may require you to first obtain a migration skills assessment that can be expensive and time consuming to get. See

The 186 Employer Nomination Scheme permanent visa may also be an option. This has different requirements for the employer and a small nomination application fee.

The new regional visa options will begin on November 16, 2019. Two new temporary visas are the 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored and the 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa.

Both will offer a pathway to the new permanent 191 visa but only after three years on the temporary visa. The employer sponsorship process for the 494 visas will operate a bit like the current 482 visas but the 494 will be a five-year visa and all occupations will have a pathway to the permanent 191 visas. More occupations will be added but these are yet to be announced.

The points tested temporary 491 skilled visa will require nomination by a state government or a family relative living in a designated regional area.

Additional points will be available that might make the option more attractive in this competitive arena. Additional points include: 15 points for state or family sponsorship; 10 points for a skilled partner; 5 points for a partner with competent English, and 10 points for applicants without a partner.

Both these temporary visas will cost $3,755 for the primary applicant, the same fees as a current PR application, but then the 191 PR application three years later will be a mere $385.

Additional fees will apply for each family member: $1,875 for partners and $940 for children.

So, while the initial fees are high, the overall cost of the 494 to 191 visas compared to the current 482 to 187/186 visa will be much lower.

When the new visas start it is intended that any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth will be designated as a regional area. Regional visa holders may live in any designated regional area and can move between designated regional areas. The myriad changes to visa rules this year are complex.

Consider asking a registered migration agent for help with assessment of your eligibility.

John McQuaid is an Irish-born registered migration agent. Send him your questions here.

Can I sponsor my elderly parents to come to Australia?

John McQuaid answers your visa questions.

John McQuaid answers your visa questions.

Hi John, I am a permanent resident in Australia for 10 years. We are looking for options for my parents to move to Australia. We have looked at the parent visa but don’t think they qualify because they don’t meet the balance of family test? I’m one of three brothers, the other two are still living in Ireland, though one is thinking of making the move out here. What can we do? TJ

Dear TJ , It seems at the present time your parents don’t currently meet the “the balance of family test” for the permanent parent visa options. This test means that more of your parents’ children must be living in Australia than in any other country. You can access a table to check this out (

However , there are some alternatives to consider .

On March 1, 2019, the immigration minister announced that applications to sponsor a parent for an 870 parent temporary visa will open on April 17.

This visa option will not have a balance of family test .

Once the sponsors application is approved, your parent(s) will be able to apply for the visa.

Applications for the 870 visas are intended to open from July 1, 2019.

The visa allows parents to remain in Australia for up to five years at a time without departing. A further five-year visa can be applied for after leaving Australia for at least three months .

To be eligible for the visa a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor, who must be an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident. A cap of 15,000 sponsored parent 870 visas will be granted each year. Expect queues to form very quickly. The fee for the sponsorship application will be $420.

The 870 visa application fees are listed at $5,000 for three-year visa or $10,000 for five years

The visa fees will be payable in two instalments, one at time of application and the remainder paid before the visa is granted. The 870 visas do not confer work rights . Applicants will be expected to be able to show source of funds to support themselves and have high-level health insurance.

The full rules and regulations have yet to be released.

There is also low-cost, longer-validity visitor visa available for parents of Australian permanent residents and citizens. Fees start at $140.

These longer visitor visas can only be applied for while you are outside Australia.

These 600 visas allow a maximum stay of 12 months in any 18-month period. For instance, if you have just spent 12 months in Australia, you would need to spend at least the next six months outside Australia. Otherwise, Immigration may deem you are trying to take up residence and possibly cancel the visa.

If you are not in the parent queue, you can still get a longer stay visitor visa. The duration of the visa will depend on whether you have had a history of travelling to Australia previously and leaving within your visa period. Three-year visas are given to people with a good history of visa compliance.

If it’s your first visa to Australia it may only be granted for 18 months.

For these longer-term visitor visas you will need high-level private health coverage. Immigration is likely to ask for evidence of insurance.

John McQuaid is an Irish-born registered migration agent. Send him your questions here.