494 visa skill requirements

For the 494 visa, at the time of application, the applicant must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least three years, on a full-time basis, and at the level of skill required for the occupation or be a person in either of the two categories of applicants specified in a legislative instrument, namely:

  • academic applicants
  • Subclass 444/461 workers

For policy and procedure on exemption categories, see here.

The employment history requirement is aimed at ensuring visa applicants are highly skilled, have experience in the occupation, and can quickly contribute that experience into the Australian workforce. As a result, the intention is that any work experience completed, including in relation to vocational placements, must be completed while:

  • working in the nominated occupation; or
  • performing tasks at the same skill level in a closely related occupation.

Related:

Period of full-time employment

While the applicant must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least three years, this period does not need to be continuous and does not need to have been immediately before the application was made.

Any period of employment during which an applicant changed careers (gained employment in another occupation), was unemployed, or took extended leave without pay will be excluded when calculating the period of employment.

Unpaid and volunteer work cannot be counted as employment experience.

DHA may consider work undertaken as a part-time employee that is equivalent to three years full-time, where they are confident that the applicant’s experience and skills are relevant and current.

  • Consistent with the National Employment Standards (NES), employment will be considered ‘full-time’ where the visa applicant worked 38 hours per week.
  • Employment experience will, however, also be considered ‘full-time’ where the visa applicant worked for a period between 32 and 45 hours per week under an industry award or an agreement that was consistent with the NES, where applicable.
  • As there are a variety of prevailing work arrangements in the Australian labour market that do not adhere to a standard work week may be assessed on a case by case basis.

Note: Casual employment, which is not undertaken on a full-time basis, would not be counted towards meeting the employment experience requirement.

Employment in the nominated occupation at the relevant skill level

For the 494 visa the applicant must be able to demonstrate that the tasks of the occupation they performed during the required three years are the same as, or closely related to, the tasks of the nominated occupation. Where the applicant has not worked in the nominated occupation but has indicated that they have been employed in a related occupation, DHA would consider whether the tasks undertaken in the relevant position are:

  • the same or closely related to those of the nominated occupation as outlined in ANZSCO; and
  • are at the same skill level and with at least the same level of responsibility – i.e. employment experience as a Kitchen Hand or Cook cannot be counted towards the employment experience requirement for a Chef position. The occupations of Kitchen Hand and Cook are at lower ANZSCO skill levels than the occupation of Chef.

The focus is on tasks of the occupation rather than the title.

Industry specific advice
  • Experience gained as part of a Masters and/or PhD may be considered as work experience for relevant occupations, such as medical and research occupations.
  • Experience gained whilst studying, through a formal arrangement that is undertaken as part of a CRICOS registered course of study, must be undertaken at the skill level of the relevant occupation to be considered as work experience. Such experience may be included in circumstances such as:
    • for medical practitioners, experience gained through internships or the final year medical training, including periods of clinical placements; and.
    • the internship component of the Professional Year Program.
  • Performance experience gained whilst studying may be considered for applicants with a performing arts occupation. This flexibility is intended to recognise performers that may have exceptional talent and are in demand globally.
  • Industry experience may be considered for niche or generalist occupations where it is relevant and skills are transferable. For example, management consultants or specialist technology positions.
Validity period of skills assessment

Some skills assessing authorities issue skills assessments specifying expiry dates. If a skills assessment specifies an expiry date that is 3 years or less from the date of assessment, and is provided after the stipulated expiry date, the skills assessment will not meet the requirements.

Skills assessments that do not specify an expiry date, or that have an expiry date that is more than 3 years from the date of assessment, do not meet the requirements of 494 visa if more than 3 years has elapsed between the date the skills assessment was issued and the date on which the application was made.


Skills assessment for the nominated occupation

A suitable skills assessment for an occupation other than the 6-digit ANZSCO occupation code on the nomination does not meet legislative requirements.

If a suitable skills assessment is submitted for an occupation that is not the 6-digit occupation on the application, but is within the same 4-digit unit group, in limited circumstances there may be an option under policy for the applicant to request confirmation from the assessing authority that they would otherwise meet a skills assessment for the nominated occupation even though they gained an assessment for another occupation within the same 4-digit unit group. DHA would accept this as an alternative only if it is clear that a legitimate error has occurred in the processing of the application and the skills assessing authority is the same for both occupations.

For example, if:

  • the application is for the occupation of Registered Nurse (Paediatrics) (ANZSCO 254425) but
  • the skills assessment is for the occupation of Registered Nurse (Child and Family Health) (ANZSCO 254413)

and AHPRA is the assessing authority for both, the above policy may be applied. It is the applicant’s responsibility to correspond with the assessing authority in these cases.


Skills assessment for trade occupations

The legislative instrument identifies Trades Recognitions Australia (TRA) as the skills assessing authority for trade occupations. 494 visa applicants are required to complete skills assessments applicable for permanent migration and therefore should complete a Migration Skills Assessment unless indicated on the TRA website that an assessment under the Offshore Skills Assessment Program (OSAP) is required in their circumstances.

Note: Assessments conducted by a TRA approved Registered Training Organisation under the OSAP are treated as skills assessments conducted by TRA.


Skills assessment on the basis of a qualification obtained in Australia

A satisfactory skills assessment made on the basis of a qualification obtained in Australia while the applicant held a student visa, will only satisfy 494 skill requirements if the qualification was obtained as result of studying a registered course.

Skills assessments gained on the basis of qualifications obtained as a result of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) do not satisfy this requirement.


If the nominated occupation has mandatory registration or licensing

For occupations that require mandatory registration/licensing and for which the skills assessing authority is also the authority responsible for registration/licensing, evidence of full registration/licensing is sufficient evidence of the applicant’s skills in the occupation.

Example: For the occupation of General Medical Practitioner (ANZSCO 253111) the registration authority is also the skills assessing authority although this is not immediately clear because the Medical Board of Australia is listed as the assessing authority. The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (AHPRA) works in partnership with several “Boards”, including for example, the Medical Board of Australia and the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. If the assessing authority listed in the legislative instrument is one of the various “Boards”, registration issued by AHPRA can be accepted as evidence of a suitable skills assessment and a separate skills assessment is not required.

If, however, the skills assessing and licensing/registering authorities are different entities, evidence of registration cannot be treated as evidence of a suitable skills assessment. The applicant must provide evidence of a suitable skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority.

Example: The registration authority for the occupations of Registered Nurse (Medical) (ANZSCO 254418) and Dentist (ANZSCO 252312) is the AHPRA, but the respective skills assessing authorities are the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) and the Australian Dental Council (ADC). Such applicants must provide evidence of a suitable skills assessment.

For further information in relation to medical practitioners, also please consult us for additional advice in relation to assessing occupation-related criteria.

Previous skills assessment

The applicant would meet the 494 skill requirements, if,  at the time of application, the applicant held a subclass 457 or TSS visa for the same occupation as the nominated occupation and in order to be granted that visa, the applicant was required to demonstrate their skills by providing a suitable skills assessment which:

  • was completed by the assessing authority specified for the nominated occupation in the legislative instrument, and
  • was not a skills assessment for a Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa, and
  • the assessment was made on the basis of a qualification obtained in Australia whilst the applicant held a student visa, the qualification was obtained as a result of studying a registered course.

Note: qualifications obtained as a result of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) are not qualifications obtained as a result of studying a registered course.

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