24 February 2021

Orana 491 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Nomination Criteria

Why is RDA Orana not accepting onshore or offshore applications for Stream 3?

RDA Orana will not be accepting offshore applications under stream 3a, 3b and 3c until further notice.

This is due to the request from the Australian Government to prioritise on-shore applicants and the national border restrictions because of COVID-19.

No exceptions can be made.

What is the employment requirement under Stream 1?

An applicant must have worked in their nominated, or closely related, occupation for the 12 months immediately preceding their application in regional NSW. The employment must qualify as skilled employment under the Home Affairs points scheme, i.e. a minimum of 20 hours per week. The employment does not need to be in the region being applied to.

I’ve been residing in regional NSW for less than 12 months, am I still eligible to apply?

Please note that RDA Orana is currently giving preference to migrants that can meet Stream 1 and 2 requirements in full.

I have a job offer in regional NSW, but my current visa conditions mean I am unable to accept it, can I still apply under Stream 3A?

Stream 3a, 3b and 3c is now closed.

I studied at a regional NSW University, but I no longer reside in NSW. Am I still eligible under Stream 2?

As long as you lived in a designated regional area of NSW while completing your study and meet the other criteria for Stream 2, you can still apply even though you no longer live in NSW.

However, you will be expected to relocate to the Orana region if you apply for a NSW nomination through RDA Orana.

I currently reside in Australia, am I eligible to apply for NSW nomination under Stream 3B?

RDA Orana will not be accepting offshore applications under stream 3a, 3b or 3c until further notice due to the national border restrictions because of COVID-19

S48 Bar

The section 48 bar applies to applicants who are holding a bridging visa, and have had a visa refused or cancelled, since their last entry into Australia. 

If you are subject to a section 48 bar you need to leave Australia before you can reapply for a visa.

NSW will not re-nominate applicants who are subject to a section 48 bar where their nomination has expired, and they are unable to leave Australia.

Nomination allocations provided by the Department of Home Affairs are limited and it is currently uncertain when border restrictions will be lifted.

To ensure the limited nomination positions allocated to NSW go to support the economic recovery of the state, RDA Orana will not re-nominate applicants subject to a section 48 bar.

Questions about applying

Where is the Orana region and what area does it cover?

Please use the following link to see the area covered by the Orana region. 

What are the eligible occupations?

The skilled occupations for each region will be different, so it is important that you check that your occupation is currently being accepted for our region. This list is updated regularly, and sometimes needs to be changed without notice. Your occupation must be on this list when you submit your application.

It is important that the skilled occupation on your application to the Orana region matches the occupation that is entered into SkillSelect. If these do not match, you cannot be nominated to apply from the NSW Government.

As the occupation list is updated regularly, there may be variances between the list below and the copy provided by the NSW Government. The list below is the current edition, and applications need to adhere to this list. Occupations that are on the copy provided by the NSW Government but not on this list will not be accepted.

Our occupation list is available here: Orana 491 Visa Occupation List.

Where can I live and work in NSW under the subclass 491 visa?

The Department of Home Affairs determines which regions of Australia are eligible for the 491 visa. Eligible regions are published on the Home Affairs’ designated regional area postcodes website.

If you apply to RDA Orana and this region nominates you, we expect you to have a moral obligation to fulfil your visa conditions in our region.

What English Tests Results are accepted?

Competent English or better is a required for Skilled Migration. The Department of Home Affairs provides detailed information on the accepted English tests.

Do I have to use a migration agent?

No, the process is transparent and there is enough straight forward information that a migrant agent is not necessary.

However, it can be worthwhile engaging the services of a Registered Migration Agent to ensure you are on the best path and that all applications are submitted complete with all required documentation. Leaving things out can result in a negative outcome or processing delays, which can be almost as frustrating.

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority has helpful information about engaging a migration agent.

How long will it take?

RDA Orana will be working hard to keep its processing timeframe under one month. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances can cause delays. It is the applicant’s responsibility to advise us if their case is urgent (due to visa or points expiring, for example).

Can I request urgent processing of my application?

If you have an urgent request because of a visa expiry, please email migration@rdaorana.org.au after you have submitted your application and quoting your SkillSelect EOI number. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to prioritise your application, but we will give consideration to the request.

How is Covid-19 impacting on Skilled Migration in Australia?

Covid-19 is logically the first priority of any Australian Government Department. Almost all visa applications that were / are lodged from offshore during the pandemic and most of those which are not on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List can expected lengthy processing timeframes from the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

Questions about 491 Visa Requirements

Do I need to work in my field when I have the 491 visa?

No. You can work in any occupation, once you have the visa. The only work requirement is that your income meets the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)  for three years, in a regional location. The TSMIT is currently AUD$53,900 p.a.

Can I travel while on the 491 visa?

Yes, you can travel to anywhere in Australia or internationally.
Covid-19 restrictions, State and National border closures and quarantining requirements/costs should be researched and considered carefully.

Am I allowed to visit a non-designated regional area like Sydney?

Condition 8549 for the 489 visa and condition 8579 for the 491 visa requires that while the visa holder is in Australia, they must live, work and study only in a designated regional area.

Condition 8579 is not intended to prevent a visa holder from engaging in incidental activities outside a Designated Regional Area (DRA). Such activities may include:

  • holidays
  • work-related travel
  • work-related training

The Department will adopt a flexible approach to the assessment of compliance with condition 8579, taking account of the personal circumstances affecting individual visa holders.

However, extended absences from the DRA may result in further scrutiny by the Department to ensure that the visa holder is or was living, working and studying in the DRA during the relevant periods.

The Department may request further evidence from the visa holder on the reason for travel outside the DRA, where:

  • the holder spends more than 90 days in total per annum outside the DRA, or
  • the holder spends more than 60 continuous days outside the DRA, or
  • there is a pattern of extended and/or frequent absences that are indicative of employment outside the DRA.

Do I need health insurance?

You are entitled to a Medicare Card once you have a 491 or 494 visa.
For Permanent Residents and Citizens of Australia, Private Health Insurance is a matter of personal choice and this is also the case for 491 and 494 visa holders.


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