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Clarification on 491 Family Sponsorship Requirements – Do the sponsor and the applicant need to reside in the same State/Territory?

Subclass 491 Provisional Regional Visa was introduced on November 16, 2019 as part of several reforms to regional skilled migration.

There are two streams available under this program

  1. State Nominated Stream
  2. Family Sponsored Stream

Whilst each State and Territory appear to cover the requisite State/Territory Specific requirements, the Regulations regarding Family Sponsored Stream appear to be broad and open to interpretation.

To be eligible to sponsor a Subclass 491 applicant, all requirements set out in subclause 491.217(2) must be satisfied. The sponsor:

  • must be at least 18 years old; and
  • must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen; and
  • must be usually resident in a designated regional area; and
  • must be an eligible relative 

The regulations and policy are silent as to whether it is possible for an eligible relative to sponsor an applicant living in a different State or Territory (assuming both the applicant and the sponsor live in a Designated Regional Area).

Migration Alliance sought advice from the Policy section in relation to this matter and has received the following response:

“In response to your query, there is no requirement in policy or the regulations that the sponsor and applicant must live in the same regional area, however, the sponsor must continue to meet all the sponsorship requirements that they have agreed to, regardless of where they are each living.”

This is a welcome news and should hopefully result in further utilisation of the 491 visa.

The sponsor’s obligations to the visa applicant are to undertake to assist the applicant to the extent necessary, financially, in relation to accommodation, and in relation to participation in English language classes provided under the Adult Migrant English Program, for a period of 2 years after the person is granted the visa or first enters Australia as holder of the visa.

The sponsorship obligations do not carry over to Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) which is due to commence on 16 November 2022.

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