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Important Updates to Subclass 489 Regional Visas

Here's a recent update to subclass 489 regional visas. The Northern Inland NSW has announced additional requirements relating to 489 – regional visas. The update basically includes requirement of minimum pass mark to obtain subclass 489 visa and removal of some occupations from the regional list. Additionally, for the existing 489 visa holders, the criteria to obtain a release letter has also been changed.

As far as Subclass 489 visas are concerned, they are subject to Condition 8549, which means that the person must live, work and study only in an area specified as a designated area of Australia.

Now the applicant must make a commitment as well as make a genuine effort to satisfy 489 visa conditions in the region, i.e., full-time equivalent employment for at least 12 months and living in the regional area for at least 2 years when applying for Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Skilled Regional Sponsorship. Obviously, the applicant is also expected to make genuine efforts to find work in Northern Inland NSW. Furthermore, if the applicant has applied from within Australia, NSW Government wants the applicant to relocate to the region within 3 months of receiving the Visa Grant Notice.

Furthermore, when applying for a provisional points-tested skilled migration visa, applicants will sign an undertaking that they understand and accept the conditions associated with the visa. However, the applicant might travel to an area outside a specified regional area for work or recreational purposes, according to the policy.

Some of the major changes include removal of following occupations from the RDA Northern Inland Occupation List:

  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care) 254412
  • Registered Nurse (Child & Family Health) 254413
  • Registered Nurse (Community Health) 254414
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) 254415
  • Registered Nurse (Medical) 254418
  • Registered Nurse (Medical Practice) 254421


In addition to the above, following occupations were removed from the RDA Northern Inland Occupation List:

  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative) 254423
  • Registered Nurse (Surgical) 254424
  • Chef 351311
  • Cook 351411
  • Structural Engineer 233214
  • Construction Project Manager 133111
  • Engineering Manager 133211
  • Geotechnical Engineer 233212


Though there is no set processing time for subclass 489 visas, the Government will put effort to consider applications within 6 months of nomination lodgements.

It is also to be noted that the service of Priority Processing Fee is no longer offered by the NSW Government.

Updates on Application of Release Letter
The 489-visa holder will not be provided the ‘Release Letter' until they provide substantial evidence of efforts to relocate or remain in region through seeking employment.

In addition to the above, RDA Northern Inland has been informed that 489 visa holders will not need a ‘Release Letter' to apply for permanent 887 visa.

Permanent Residency – The 887 Pathway
Assuming all applicable criteria is met, Subclass 489 recipients are eligible to apply for PR, which may lead to permanent residency.  The applicant will need to apply for subclass 887 visa if they wish to obtain permanent residency status. However, there are certain requirements attached to it, like the applicant must have:

  • lived in a regional Australia/low population growth metropolitan area for at least two years if nominated by a state or territory government
  • lived in a designated area of Australia for at least two years if sponsored by an eligible relative
  • worked full time (usually at least 35 hours a week) in a specified regional area for at least a year while holding eligible visa
  • complied with the conditions attached to eligible visa or Bridging visa


It is to be noted that the applicant can meet the work requirement if they worked at least 35 hours a week in one full-time job or in two part-time jobs. Prospect applicants can include any paid employment or self-employment, provided they furnish evidence of employment claims.