491 visa– Queensland Small Business Owners Pathway

Queensland has a Small Business Owners pathway (491 visa) that allows the state to nominate applicants who are currently living and operating a small business in regional Queensland. To be eligible, the applicant must meet the Department of Home Affairs ‘s (DoHA) requirement and the Queensland requirements. The QLD Visa 491 – Small Business Owners Pathway is currently open.

NOTE: The 2023 – 24 program opened on 5 September 2023. Migration Queensland will only consider EOI’s lodged on or after 5 September 2023 – updated EOI’s will not be accepted.

DoHA’s requirements

  • Have at least 65 points
  • Have a positive skills assessment
  • Be under 45 years old
  • Meet the minimum English language requirement (Even if you are from an exempt country (UK, Ireland, United States, Canada and New Zealand) it is recommended you take an English test for points purposes.)

Features

This pathway is for migrants who are currently living and operating a small business in regional Queensland. You must have an occupation that is on the Home Affairs Legislative Instrument LIN 19/051 and have a positive skills assessment in an occupation on this instrument. You must also have full-time work rights and not currently be studying.

The Small Business Owner (SBO) stream has two separate pathways available, applicants need to meet the criteria for Pathway 1 OR Pathway 2:

Pathway 1

To be eligible for this pathway, you must purchase an existing registered business for a minimum of $100,000 and employ at least one Australian resident. The business must be a pre-existing business which has been purchased and trading for a minimum of six months prior to lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI).

Pathway 2

To be eligible for this pathway, you must have started a business and have continuously run that business for a minimum of two years. The business must be generating a profit and have a turnover of $200,000 in the twelve months prior to application.

NOTE: Seek professional legal and financial advice before making an investment or starting a business. Migration Queensland takes no responsibility if your business or investment is not successful.

You must complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) on Skillselect before submitting a 491 – Small Business Owner Assessment Form for this visa.

Migration Queensland offers nominations under the following visa subclass:

491 visa

The 491 visa is a 5 year provisional visa. It is for skilled workers who want to live and work in regional Australia. It allows your to live, work and study in a designated regional area of Australia. The 491 visa has a pathway to PR through the 191 visa.

Applicable regions

You must live and work within one of the following postcodes to be eligible for this visa:

4019–4022, 4025, 4037, 4074, 4076–4078, 4124–4125, 4133, 4183–4184, 4207–4275, 4280–4287, 4300–4301, 4303–4498, 4500–4512, 4514–4519, 4521, 4550–4575, 4580–4895.

Note: The above postcodes are applicable to those who have been nominated and applied for their 491 visa from 5 March 2022.

If you were nominated or applied for the 491 visa prior to 5 March 2022, the applicable Queensland postcodes are different.

If you were granted a 491 visa prior to 19 November 2019, the Gold Coast is not an eligible region.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for a Queensland nomination, you must meet both the Department of Home Affairs Immigration Eligibility Criteria and Migration Queensland criteria for your chosen visa category.

Home Affairs criteria requires you to:

  • have a points test result of 65 or higher, inclusive of state nomination points;
  • have a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation;
  • be under 45 years of age;
  • meet the minimum English language requirement of Competent, unless a higher level is required by your assessing authority.

Migration Queensland criteria requires you to:

Requirements for Pathway 1 and Pathway 2 applicants:
Occupation Have an occupation on the 491 occupations list.
Living in regional Queensland Must provide evidence that you are living in regional Queensland.
Operating the business full-time The applicant must be working for the business full-time (minimum of 30 hours per week).
Ownership interest Provide evidence that you hold 100% ownership of the business – partnerships or joint ventures are not eligible.
Location of business You must own and operate a business in regional Queensland.
Applicants must also meet the requirements of Pathway 1 or Pathway 2:
Additional requirements for Pathway 1 (Purchase of business)
Age of purchased business The business purchased must have been operating for a minimum of two years in its current location, immediately prior to purchase.
Price of purchased business Provide evidence that you have purchased a business for a minimum of $100,000.
Operation of business Provide evidence that you have been operating the business for a minimum of six months after settlement.
NOTE: the six months of operation does not start until 100% of the business purchase price is settled.
Australian employee/s Provide evidence of employment of at least one Australian resident* working a minimum of 20 hours per week, or two employees working 10 hours per week. Employee/s cannot be a family member or a subcontractor.
Additional requirements for Pathway 2 (Start-ups)
Operation of business and turnover Provide evidence that you have been operating a profitable start-up for a minimum of two years, with a turnover of $200,000 in the twelve months prior to application.

*An Australian resident for the purposes of the 491 SBO pathway is an Australian citizen, an Australia permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen usually residing in Australia on a Special Category subclass 444 visa.

Important notes for SBO 491 nomination applications:

  • No share transfer (must have a contract of business sale)
  • No vendor financing
  • Cannot purchase business from family member or relative
  • Cannot relocate or sell business before receiving approval from MQ (prior to visa grant)
  • Cannot purchase a business previously owned by a 491 SBO applicant
  • Home-based or virtual offices are not eligible for the 491 SBO pathway
  • Commission agents or leasing agents of franchises (such as petrol stations) will not be considered
  • Applicants must operate their business for at least three years in a regional area (and may be subject to monitoring) after the grant of the visa. Should an applicant choose to sell their business prior to this time, Migration Queensland has the option to withdraw the nomination of the 491 visa to allow the applicant to explore other visa options
  • Please ensure that you read the application process, document checklist and all explanatory notes (below) before submitting your application
  • Migration Queensland handle a high volume of applications and client enquiries; enquiries about where your application is in the queue or when you will be invited to apply will not receive a response
  • Priority will not be given to invitations where documents or visas are expiring.

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