The 491 visa gives you temporary residency status for 5 years in Australia. It is designed to keep you living and working in regional locations. The regions are known as Designated Regional Areas (DRA) of Australia.
As you may know these areas cover all of Australia except Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and the locations where you can live, work and study are defined by specific post code ranges. Be careful in deciding to live in the fringe areas of the three cities not because some suburbs may not be allowed even though they are considered outside of the city.
For example, the suburb of Tarneit, postcode 3029, is generally considered to be located outside of Melbourne. However it is not covered by the DRA postcode range meaning it is not a DRA. We are sure there are many more examples out there similar to this one.
Planning to move around?
Let’s make this crystal clear on the relocation question. As the holder of a 491 visa there is no condition attached that forces you to stay in the DRA you were sponsored in. You are free to move around and live in any DRA of Australia. There is no legal obligation for you to remain in the area which sponsored you for the 491 grant.
Whilst it is true you did enter into an agreement with the DRA that sponsored you that you would remain in that area for time agreed upon, it is a civil agreement between two parties. It is not an agreement based upon any part of the Migration laws of this country. DOHA has no interest in your agreement except that at the time of the agreement you were telling the truth about your intentions and at the time your visa was granted that agreement was still in place.
If the agreement falls apart after your visa is granted then DOHA is not interested. DOHA would only be concerned if any false information was given to the sponsoring party and that false information is how you obtained your sponsorship.
In summary then if you have done the right thing, acted in good faith to all involved, then you have nothing to be concerned about. If your intentions have changed (for whatever reason) after the visa has been granted, well that is just the way it goes.
491 Visa Conditions
We have covered the conditions on your visa before in a previous Edition;
These conditions are very different to those found on the old 489 visa. You are still free to move around to any RDA of Australia but the reporting requirements to DOHA are stricter. For the 489 visa there is no requirement to inform the DOHA where you live and where you work but for the 491 visa you must. It is important that you meet the reporting obligations outlined in these conditions otherwise there are general visa cancellation powers which DOHA can use to end your visa.
The conditions on your 491 visa are just reporting requirements so the DOHA can keep track of you. They have nothing to do with trying to keep you in any particular DRA of Australia. We have made our thoughts clear of what we think of those particular visa conditions.
So there you have it, you are free to move around to any DRA of Australia. When it comes to lodging PR in the future the DOHA will know where you have been living all this time. The only thing they will care about is that you have earned the minimum income threshold for 3 tax years and you have lived, worked or studied in any DRA of Australia for 3 years. These 3 years must be as the holder of a 491 visa before you can lodge PR. Time spent living in a RDA will only count from the time your 491 visa is granted.
Worried about moving? If you need professional advice or representation give us a call to book a consultation to speak one of our highly experienced migration specialists. Call +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online. We also consult over the telephone and Skype via booked appointments for those interstate or overseas and for for those concerned about leaving the house and catching a cold (or something worse).