489 & 491 Australia Visa Holders During Coronavirus - Where Do We Stand?

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Before I start let’s get one thing straight, I am by no means a visa expert or claim to be offering the answers. I’m just a guy doing some research and hopefully able to help a little.

The 489 & 491 Regional Sponsored visas are temporary – this isn’t up for debate. However they are equal in cost, effort and commitment to the 189 & 190s and people with those have been able to enter Australia throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as they are permanent residency visas.

The 489 and 491 visas are temporary yes, but they are considered as a pathway to permanent residency yet it has been lumped with lesser visas that cost far less time and effort.

Firstly – there are people that haven’t yet landed in Australia at all since receiving their visa, I’ve read stories of people having sold their homes, cars, kids (okay that’s a lie) and quit their jobs, flights booked, property sorted in Oz and then boom – Coronavirus hits and here they are now, sitting in limbo with absolutely no idea of what is happening and no proper word from the Home Affairs website, nothing from the government and even migration agents can’t seem to shed any more light than a simple Google search would yield.

Secondly – there are 489/491 visa holders that were onshore when Covid-19 hit and were potentially “stood down but not let go” or perhaps lost work or can’t find work and there are people who may have been outside of Australia and aren’t allowed back in due to only being temporary visa holders but have a whole life in Oz.

Some facts:

· They have “relaxed” the first entry date rule but also state the rule is still in place. That makes sense.

· There has been zero talk of visas being extended; online advisors and migration agents have quashed any talk of this.

· Applicants of the temporary visas 457, 482 (Employee Sponsorship visas), the 300 (Prospective Marriage visa) Working Holiday Makers and Visitor visas that have seen entry dates expire or are stuck outside of Aus while these visas expire will be able to apply for a waiver on future/subsequent visa applications.

· There are 887 (a PR visa once you meet certain criteria on 489/491) concessions but we will discuss that below.

Yet still no word for 489/491 visa holders that haven’t yet landed in Australia.

The main issue are the requirements that need to be met to apply for a 887 visa to gain permanent residency – you need two years living in a specified regional area and the equivalent to one year’s full time work. Some people are now going to be entering the country with less than two years left on their visa – meaning they now cannot plan a future after changing their lives based on the pathway to permanent residency which is slipping away from a number of people.

It is at this point of writing that I found a possible beacon of light for those who were in Australia that got hit hard in what has been a storm of 2020 – mention of concessions on the 887 visa can be found right here. They are now lowering the time needed to be eligible to apply for an 887 for living and working in regional areas during what they are calling the Concession Period, which began in February. This concession period will allow people to apply for an 887 offshore, previously only allowed while onshore, with regional living lowered to 18 months and regional working lowered to nine months. The end of the concession spell hasn’t yet been determined but a time limit of three months after that yet-to-be-determined date has been set for future applicants.

It doesn’t help the 489 and 491’ers that are yet to have started their Australian lives however hopefully it is a sign that it may be on the agenda soon.

Hopefully we will know more soon.