Subclass 494 - Labour Agreement Stream

Employer Sponsor Visa

About this visa

The 494 Labour Agreement stream provides a flexible solution to address the unique workforce requirements of employers and employees. It is particularly beneficial for employers facing challenges in meeting their skilled Australian workforce needs from the local labor market. The Subclass 494 Visa under a Labour Agreement is valid for 5 years.

Eligibility for Applicant

  • Occupation 
    Applicants must meet the occupation requirements specified in the labour agreement for the nominated position.
  • Age
    Applicants must be under 45 years of age at the time of application.
  • Approved Sponsor Nomination
    The applicant needs employer nomination from an Australian business operating lawfully.
    The applicant’s employment should be in the nominated occupation within the sponsoring business or its associated entity, situated in a designated regional area of Australia.
    Before applying for the visa, the applicant’s employer must submit a nomination application on their behalf, either as an approved work sponsor or by initiating the process to become a standard business sponsor.
  • Skills Assessment
    The need for a skills assessment depends on the specific labour agreement and nominated occupation. Some applicants may require a formal skills assessment, as determined by the labour agreement.
  • Working Experience
    Unless a labour agreement concession applies, applicants should have at least 3 years of full-time equivalent experience in the nominated occupation or a related field.
  • Intent to Work
    Applicants must genuinely intend to work in the nominated position as specified in the labour agreement.
  • English Proficiency

    Applicants must meet the English language proficiency specified in the labour agreement.

  • Health Insurance
    Adequate arrangements for health insurance during the stay in Australia must be made by visa applicants.

  • Health and Character
    Fulfill health and character requirements.

Eligibility for Sponsor

  • Labour Agreement
    The business must be a party to a specific type of labour agreement, as outlined in the relevant agreement categories. These include industry agreements, Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA), Project Agreements (PA), company-specific agreements, and Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) agreements.
  • Lawful Operation
    The business must be actively and lawfully operating in Australia, complying with all applicable Australian laws and regulations.
  • Genuine Need

    In general, unless specifically exempt or subject to a labor agreement concession, the sponsoring business must establish a genuine need for skilled employees within their business operations. This should encompass a clear rationale for the unavailability of suitable Australian employees for the designated positions, as well as a demonstrated commitment to addressing this need.
    Additionally, the position must be a genuine, full-time role included in the employer’s labor agreement.
    NOTE: Some labor agreements may impose extra prerequisites for particular occupations, such as work experience, location, business type, or position nature. 

  • Compliance with Agreement Conditions
    The business must meet any conditions specified in the relevant labour agreement. The nature of these conditions may vary depending on the specific agreement type, so it’s important to refer to the agreement for precise details.
  • Adverse Information
    The business must not have any adverse information known that would affect its suitability as an approved sponsor. Adverse information encompasses a range of factors, such as contraventions of immigration, industrial relations, or taxation laws, pending investigations or disciplinary actions, administrative actions for possible law contraventions, insolvency, or the provision of false or misleading information to the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA).
  • Sponsor Obligations
    Businesses approved for TSS visa sponsorship under a labor agreement must meet specific DOHA-imposed obligations. These aim to protect overseas workers and ensure proper visa program usage.
    Note: Approved sponsors cannot recover labor agreement or nomination application costs, including migration agent fees and Skilling Australians Fund levies. However, they may be eligible for GST or tax deductions related to labor agreement fees. Seek independent tax advice if applicable. Approved sponsors must maintain specific records, including annual turnover and Skilling Australians Fund levy payment details. These records must be provided to the DOHA upon request.

Nomination Requirement

The position must offer a salary of at least:

  • $53,900 per year (excluding non-monetary benefits) AND
  • the annual market salary rate (AMSR) for your nominated occupation.

NOTES: The AMSR for your nominated occupation (excluding non-monetary benefits) must also be equal to or greater than $53,900 per year. The AMSR represents the salary that an Australian worker earns (or would earn) for performing equivalent full-time work in the same workplace and location for a year. If your salary is over $250,000 per year, you are exempt from this requirement. Any concessions to this requirement will be outlined in the labor agreement.

The position’s employment conditions (excluding earnings) must not be less favorable than those applied (or would apply) to Australians performing equivalent work in the same location.

The position must have undergone ‘Labour Market Testing’ (LMT), which means the sponsor must have attempted to recruit a suitably skilled and qualified Australian for the nominated position. This entails providing evidence that the position was advertised within the last 4 months for a minimum of 4 weeks.

NOTE: Different LMT criteria may apply in specific situations. The evidence submitted for LMT must meet specific criteria related to location, type, and content of the advertisement. Please contact us for further information regarding the required LMT for your nomination.


Step 1

Labour Agreement Request

A labor agreement application is submitted to the DOHA on behalf of your employer. The main requirement is that your employer’s business is actively operating in Australia, meeting all criteria for the requested labor agreement. Labor agreements are typically valid for five years. During this period, the business can nominate overseas workers for subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visas and, if specified, subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme and/or subclass 494 Skilled Employer Regional (Provisional) visas.

Step 2


The nomination application is submitted to the DOHA by the employer once the labor agreement is active and within its validity period. The primary requirement is that the nomination satisfies the outlined criteria.

Step 3


The applicant’s visa application is submitted to the DOHA, either concurrently with the nomination application or before the nomination expires (typically within 12 months of approval). The primary requirement is to meet the listed criteria. 

Generally, applicants can apply from within or outside Australia, but eligibility may be affected if the required visa type is not held or if there has been a prior visa refusal or cancellation. 

Once both the nomination and visa applications are approved by the DOHA, the applicant is granted a subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa in the Labour Agreement stream, valid for up to four years, depending on the sponsor’s labor agreement and specific requirements.

Stay Period

The Subclass 494 Visa is a temporary visa that allows you to reside and work in Australia in the designated regional area for a specified period. This visa is typically granted for up to 5 years from the date of visa grant, and it includes a travel component that remains valid during this period.

It’s important to note that the Subclass 494 Visa is a temporary visa with a pathway to permanent residency. To attain permanent resident status, you may need to meet specific criteria and transition to another permanent visa, such as the Subclass 191 Visa, after fulfilling the required stay period on the Subclass 494 Visa.

Permanent Resident Pathway

If eligible, apply for permanent residence (subclass 191) after 3 years from the time your visa is granted.


Subclass 494 Visa Employer Costs – Nomination Fee
The nomination fee is typically AUD $540.
This fee is paid by the employer when nominating an applicant for a specific position. Like the sponsorship fee, nomination fees may change over time and can vary based on specific circumstances, so it’s advisable to check the latest fee information before applying.

Subclass 494 Visa Employer Costs – Skilling Australians Fund Levy
Employers are required to make a contribution known as the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy when nominating a skilled worker for the Subclass 494 Visa. The SAF levy aims to support the overall skills development of the Australian workforce.

  • Small Businesses (with an annual turnover less than $10 million): AUD $3,000.
  • Other Businesses (with an annual turnover of $10 million or more): AUD $5,000.

Subclass 494 Visa Applicant cost – Visa Application Fee
Primary Applicant: AUD $4,640
Secondary Applicants  (18 and over) : AUD $2,320
Dependent Children (under 18) : AUD $1,160

The fee is subject to the latest pricing set by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Processing time

50% processed in 48 days
90% processed in 6 months

The Australian Department of Home Affairs handles visa applications, and it’s essential to provide all required documents with your application. Please note that incomplete applications may result in longer processing times than the estimated duration. Additionally, processing times are subject to change and should be used as a general reference only.


  • Work in Australia: Holders of the Subclass 494 Visa can work for their sponsoring employer in the designated regional area of Australia, gaining valuable work experience.

  • Study: You can pursue further studies or enroll in courses in Australia, which can enhance your skills and qualifications.

  • Family Sponsorship: Eligible Subclass 494 Visa holders have the opportunity to sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residency in Australia.

  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: If you meet the eligibility criteria, the Subclass 494 Visa can be a pathway to apply for permanent residence in Australia.

  • Access to Healthcare: Visa holders can access Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare scheme, which provides essential medical services.

  • Multiple Entries: Enjoy multiple entries to and exits from Australia for a period of up to five years, allowing for flexibility in travel.


The Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa (Subclass 494) allows you to include the following family members in your visa application:

  1. Spouse or Partner: This includes your legally married spouse or de facto partner (opposite-sex or same-sex).
  2. Dependent Children: You can include your dependent children in the application. Dependent children are generally unmarried and under the age of 18. In some cases, dependent children over 18 but financially dependent on you may also be eligible.
  3. Other Dependent Relatives: In certain circumstances, other dependent relatives can be included in the application, such as elderly parents or financially dependent siblings. However, specific requirements and limitations may apply.

It’s important to note that all family members included in the application must meet the eligibility criteria and provide the necessary documentation to support their inclusion. Additionally, each family member must be listed in the visa application form, and their details and relationship to the primary applicant must be accurately declared.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: The 494 Labour Agreement visa is a type of Australian visa for skilled workers who are nominated by an employer to live and work in regional Australia.

Q: Who can apply for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Skilled workers who have been nominated by an Australian employer and who have the skills and qualifications required for a position as per a Labour Agreement between the employer and the Australian government.

Q: What is a Labour Agreement?
A: A Labour Agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an Australian employer and the Australian government, allowing the employer to recruit a specified number of workers from overseas in response to identified labour market shortages.

Q: How long is the 494 Labour Agreement visa valid for?
A: The 494 Labour Agreement visa is a provisional visa that allows you to live and work in regional Australia for up to 5 years.

Q: Can I apply for permanent residency with the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, you can apply for permanent residency through the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) after three years of working in regional Australia, provided you meet all the necessary requirements.

Q: What are the requirements for an employer to enter a Labour Agreement?
A: Employers must demonstrate efforts to recruit Australian workers, show that there is a genuine need for overseas workers, and ensure that terms and conditions of employment are consistent with Australian standards, among other requirements.

Q: Is a skills assessment required for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: The requirement for a skills assessment for the 494 Labour Agreement visa depends on the specific terms of the Labour Agreement. Each agreement may have different conditions regarding the necessity of a skills assessment for the nominated occupation.

Q: What regions of Australia are eligible for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: The 494 visa is designated for regional areas, which includes all of Australia except for Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Q: Are family members able to join me on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, you can include members of your family unit in your application when you apply, or you can add them after you have been granted the visa.

Q: How do I find an employer willing to sponsor me under a Labour Agreement?
A: You can search for employers with Labour Agreements in place or job openings in regional areas, use migration agents, or check job boards that may list such opportunities.

Q: What kind of work experience is needed for a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: You generally need at least three years of relevant work experience in your occupation to qualify for the 494 visa.

Q: What level of English proficiency is required for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: You must demonstrate competent English, which is usually determined by an English language test unless specified differently in the Labour Agreement.

Q: Can I switch employers while on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: You can switch employers, but your new employer must also be a party to a Labour Agreement and must nominate you for the position.

Q: What are the financial requirements for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: There are no specific financial requirements for the visa itself, but you must be able to support yourself and any accompanying family members.

Q: Can I travel outside of Australia on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, the 494 visa allows you to travel in and out of Australia as often as you like, within the visa validity period.

Q: Is health insurance required for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, you must maintain adequate health insurance for the entire duration you are in Australia on the 494 visa.

Q: What happens if the Labour Agreement is terminated while I am on a 494 visa?
A: If the Labour Agreement is terminated, you may need to find another employer who is a party to a Labour Agreement or apply for a different type of visa to remain lawfully in Australia.

Q: How long does the processing of a 494 Labour Agreement visa take?
A: Processing times can vary based on individual circumstances and the complexity of the case.

Q: Are there any age limits for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, you must be under 45 years of age when you apply unless you are exempted by the Labour Agreement.

Q: What is the cost of applying for a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: The visa application charge is subject to change and can be found on the official Department of Home Affairs website.

Q: Can I study in Australia on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, you can study, but you should be aware that you will not have access to government support for tertiary study and will be required to pay international tuition fees.

Q: Do I need to stay in the same regional area while on the 494 visa?
A: While on a 494 visa, you are expected to live, work, and study in a regional area, though you may move between regional areas.

Q: What type of work can I do on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: You must work in the occupation for which you were nominated and which is specified in the Labour Agreement.

Q: How does the 494 Labour Agreement visa support regional communities?
A: The visa helps regional communities by addressing labor shortages through skilled migration, thereby supporting the economic development of these areas.

Q: What are the obligations for visa holders under the 494 Labour Agreement?
A: Visa holders are obligated to begin work within 90 days of arrival in Australia or visa grant if already in Australia and to only work in the approved occupation.

Q: Can my 494 visa be cancelled if I don’t comply with the conditions?
A: Yes, non-compliance with visa conditions can lead to cancellation of your 494 visa.

Q: Are same-sex partners considered family members for the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: Yes, same-sex partners can be included as members of the family unit in your visa application.

Q: What healthcare benefits am I entitled to on a 494 visa?
A: You may be eligible for Medicare under a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and certain countries, otherwise, you should maintain private health insurance.

Q: Can I apply for the 494 visa while I am in Australia?
A: Yes, you can apply for the 494 visa if you are in Australia, but you must hold a substantive visa or a bridging visa A, B, or C.

Q: Is there a pathway to citizenship with the 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: After you transition to permanent residency, you can eventually apply for Australian citizenship if you meet all the eligibility criteria.

Q: What should I do if my circumstances change while on a 494 visa?
A: You should notify the Department of Home Affairs of any significant changes, such as a change in your employment or family situation.

Q: Can I operate a business on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: The 494 visa is for skilled workers to be employed by a sponsor; running a business may breach the visa conditions unless specified in the Labour Agreement.

Q: How can I ensure my family’s well-being while we are in Australia on a 494 visa?
A: Researching and preparing for life in regional Australia, such as understanding healthcare, education, and community services, will help ensure your family’s well-being.

Q: Are there any specific industries that use the Labour Agreement stream more than others?
A: Industries with known labor shortages, such as agriculture, hospitality, and health, often use Labour Agreements to sponsor overseas workers.

Q: How is the Labour Agreement different from the Direct Entry stream of the 494 visa?
A: The Labour Agreement stream requires a specific agreement between the employer and the Australian government, while the Direct Entry stream does not.

Q: What is the priority processing arrangement for the 494 visa?
A: Priority processing may be available for certain occupations and regions under the 494 visa program; check the latest information on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Q: Can I travel to metropolitan areas while on a 494 Labour Agreement visa?
A: You can travel to metropolitan areas, but you must maintain residence and employment in a regional area as per the visa conditions.

Q: What happens if I lose my job while on a 494 visa?
A: If you lose your job, you typically have 90 days to find another employer who is also a party to a Labour Agreement or find another visa solution to stay lawfully in Australia.