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July 8, 2020

Now that many people are receiving the Skilled Work Regional 491 visa it is understandable they want to know how to get permanent residency (PR) in the future via the Skilled Regional 191 pathway. The 191 visa is very different from the old Skilled Regional 887 regulations, particularly when it comes to the new rules about providing 3 years of Tax Assessment Notices. The three ATO Tax Assessment Notices will be a compulsory requirement for the 191 PR visa.

This is also clear by the way the law is written;

  1. The applicant has provided copies of notices of assessment, and any notices of amended assessments, given to the applicant under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 in relation to 3 relevant income years for the applicant.
  2. The applicant’s taxable income for each of those relevant income years is at least equal to the amount specified in an instrument under subclause (3) in relation to the applicant.

We know that this income threshold is planned to be $53,900. What is defined as “relevant income years“;

  1. (a)  the income year ended before the date of application; and
  2. (b)  the applicant held a regional provisional visa for all or part of the income year.

We know to apply for the 191 PR visa you must have held the 491 visa for at least three years before you can lodge for the 191 visa. What is confusing is the issue of having worked in a Designated Regional Area before the 491 visa was granted and can this income be counted when the end of the financial year comes up as long as the visa was granted before the 30th June?

The answer is, yes it can. So let’s look at a couple of examples of how these ATO Assessments and your circumstances may play out. Imaginary Jesse

Example 1: Jesse has applied for his 491 visa in December 2019. From January, he has been on a Bridging Visa A (BVA) for the 491 visa. The 491 visa was granted in June of 2020. He has been working full time in since February 2019. When can he apply for PR?

We will assume Jesse meets the minimum income level requirement while working since February 2019. In June of 2023, he will have met one key requirement; holding the 491 visa for 3 years. Also by July 2022 he would have completed 3 clear tax years and have assessment notices from the ATO for the 19-20, 20-21 and 21-22 tax years. Therefore, Jesse will be ready to apply for the 191 visa in June 2023. The 19-20 Tax year can be counted for during this financial year since Jesse held a 491 visa, even though it was only for a short period.

Example 2: Jesse starting full-time work in June of 2019 (like above), but his 491 visa was not granted until August 2020. He will have three ATO assessments of the income required in July 2023 but needs to wait until August 2013 so he has held the 491 visa for 3 years. He will have the 20-21, 21-22 and 22-23 ATO Notices.

Income Threshold One has to wonder why any income threshold is necessary at all. Isn’t the current requirement for the 887 of working full time for 12 months sufficient? Even if they just say for the 191 you need to work 3 years full-time people could accept that. To have an income threshold that is too high for regional areas is not going to encourage people to move out from the main city areas such as Darwin, Adelaide, Hobart. Wasn’t the whole point of the visa to populate regional Australia and assist country towns as well? This will be a topic of another newsletter later on so stay tuned.

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These new changes are going to be complicated so call +61 2 8054 2537 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists. Jee Eun Han