Gaining Permanent Residence from a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 489)
Now that you are on your 489 visa and have resided in a regional ares(s) for at least two years while holding that visa, you will of course be bursting with enthusiasm for your permanent residency application to be lodged.This permanent residency (PR) stage will be the 887 visa and of course like all PR visas it has certain conditions but they are are relatively very basic now you have done most of the hard work.
After 2 years of holding the 489 visa (bridging visa whilst waiting for the 489 does not count), the holder may apply for a permanent 887 visa if they have satisfied the following criteria:
Have lived in Australia for at least 2 years in a specified regional area, and during this time;
Worked full time for at least one year in a specified regional area
Remember only one of the family need to satisfy this criteria and it does not matter if the main applicant for the 887 is different from the main applicant for the 489 visa. For example;
Jane studied in Australia and then was the main applicant for the 489 visa and Jim her husband, was the secondary applicant included in the application. Both obtained thier visas and have lived happily in South Australia. Jane became pregnant and decided not to work since Jim had a full time job. After the baby was born the two years of living in a specified regional area was up, Jim became the main applicant for the 887 visa and the entire family applied together.
Remember for the 887 there is no skill assessment requirement and no points test to meet and no need to apply for sponsorship again. Whoever the main applicant is however they will need to demonstrate at least Competent English and the secondary applicant only needs Functional English.
You will of course need to have met the visa conditions during your two years of residency and that will be vary, depending on if your 489 visa is state/territory sponsored or relative sponsored. State/territory sponsored 489 visas are subject to condition 8539, whilst relative sponsored 489 visas are subject to condition 8549.
Condition 8539 (state/territory)
The holder, while in Australia, must live, study and work only in a regional area of Australia, or study only in areas specified in this legislative instrument (Don’t worry that it says campuses and postcodes, this is the right list)
Condition 8549 (relative)
The holder, while in Australia, must live, study and work only only in a designated area in Australia. These areas can be found in this instrument
Learn more about condition 8539 and 8549 in an earlier article that you will find here
It is a natural and common assumption to make that these conditions will bind the visa holder to the areas they gained sponsorship from but this is not the case. The conditions allow the holder to stay in any of the specified regional areas of Australia regardless of the location of their sponsor.
As it can be hard looking for work in a low population density area, this is important to know as it will allow you to job search over a greater span of regions if the sponsoring region has given you no joy for employment. Australia wants its visa holders to be able to settle in and contribute to Australia, and in a way that does not result in breaching of visa conditions.
Lived 2 years
Whoever the main applicant is, they will need to satisfy this residency requirement of living in areas within those specified for their visa condition from their grant of a 489 visa. Any time that has been spent living in these specified areas on another visa cannot be counted towards the 2 years. The secondary applicant does not have to meet this two year residency requirement.
James was granted his 489 visa and lived in the NT for 12 months. He then went home for 4 weeks on paid holiday leave to marry his sweetheart Jill from the UK. After the ceremony Jill applied for the 489 visa as a dependent on James’s visa and then James went home to the NT to keep working. When Jill’s visa was granted she also moved to Australia and lived with James. In only 6 months after she moved James had met the residency and work requirements to apply for the 887 visa. James and Jill then applied for PR together and lived happily ever after in Sydney.
These 2 years do not have to be consecutive. The 489 visa is valid for 4 years and if the applicant has had to live for an extended time period outside of your specified regional areas (overseas), so long as they have complied with their visa conditions and not lived outside their specified areas in Australia, they will be able to accumulate the 2 years over multiple residences.
Shorter periods where the applicant has traveled outside the specified areas (other parts of Australian or overseas) will not result in a breach of their conditions or be subtracted from their 2 years if it is no more than 4 weeks duration for each year. The total of weeks is permitted to match the annual leave component in Australia. Short travels for holidays will not be considered a cessation of residence. For example, in James case above, his stay in the UK was only for 4 weeks during his annual leave. If you have traveled back home and stayed there longer than 4 weeks at one stretch or more than 4 weeks during a 12 month time span, it would be wise to lodge the 887 visa application at a later date to make up more residency time in Australia.
Evidence that can be given to support fulfilling these 2 years can come in the form of rental agreements, mortgage documents, work time sheets, school reports, utility bills and so forth. You can of course live in multiple specified regional areas to make up this 2 year requirement but the onus will be on the visa applicant to prove residency in each of these areas. The more you move around the larger the amount of documents you will need to submit to the DIBP.
Worked for 1 year?
Similar to the residence criteria, the applicant can accumulate the 1 year of work over multiple shorter time periods. Time spent working in these areas cannot be if it was whilst the visa holder was not on a 489 visa. The applicant need only have physically worked in a location within the specified areas attached to their visa conditions, but do not need their employer to be based there (e.g. if the employer has multiple offices). In one of our cases, our client worked in a specified regional area from home via an online portal but his employer was located in Sydney. The fact was that he was working in a specified regional area and that was all that mattered.
The work must be full time, which is typically regarded to be 35 hours a week, however if the nature of the work is such that less hours are required, the DIBP will not enforce the 35 hour minimum so strictly. Nonetheless, work cannot be counted if it is for less than 30 hours a week. The DIBP will also consider the requirement met if the applicant works part-time for 2 jobs for a year with the combination of hours being 35 per week.
It also does not matter what type of work is undertaken. There is absolutely no requirement that the work is related to the nominated occupation you used to obtain the 489 visa. You can be driving a taxi, picking fruit or washing dishes at the local cafe to meet the work requirement. Their is also no need that you have a permanent job either. You can be a casual or part time, the designation does not matter.
If work has taken the applicant outside the specified areas based on the applicant’s visa condition, these trips cannot be frequent. They are acceptable so long as the applicant place of work to a significant degree, is within those specified areas.
Supporting documents will be needed to support any work claims and they include employment contracts, payslips, tax documents, work references and the like.
All previous visa conditions must also have been adhered too and health and character requirements must also be passed.
Jee Eun Han
Senior Migration Agent, Australian Immigration Law Services