494 Visa Labour Agreement stream

The subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (SESR) visa allows employers to sponsor overseas workers to live and work in regional Australia on a temporary basis. This visa is designed to assist regional employers who are unable to meet their skilled Australian workforce needs from the local labour market.

NOTE: Different criteria apply to the Employer Sponsored stream of this visa. Please contact us for further details regarding this alternative stream.

The visa is valid for a five-year period, with visa holders able to apply for a permanent visa if they meet the relevant criteria. The minimum requirements for SESR visas are as follows:


NOTE: This Fact Sheet lists the criteria that generally apply to applications for a visa in this stream. The specific requirements that you and your employer must meet will depend upon the type of labour agreement that applies to your employment.


In general, the business seeking to employ you must:

  • be party to a labour agreement. There are several labour agreement types including:
    • Industry agreements, for employers in specific industries with ongoing labour shortages. The industries currently covered by labour agreements are: dairy; fishing; meat; minister of religion; on-hire; pork; restaurant (fine dining); advertising; and horticulture;
    • Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA), which is an overarching agreement between the Australian government and a regional, state or territory authority, giving access to more workers than a standard skilled migration program. There are currently DAMAs in place for: Orana, NSW; Northern Territory, NT; Far North Queensland & Townsville, QLD; Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement & South Australia Regional, SA; Goulburn Valley & Great South Coast, VIC; East Kimberley, Pilbara, South West & The Goldfields, WA;
    • Project Agreements (PA), for project companies with genuine skills shortages during the construction phase of resources or infrastructure projects;
    • Company-specific agreements, for employers with a genuine skills need that cannot be met by Australian workers, and which is not already covered by an industry labour agreement, DAMA or PA;
    • Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) agreements, for employers sponsoring workers in highly-skilled niche positions that cannot be filled by Australian workers or through other standard visa programmes.
  • be actively and lawfully operating in Australia
  • meet any conditions for entering into the relevant labour agreement. genuine need for skilled employees, inability to source suitable Australian employees

NOTE: The nature of the conditions that the business must meet will depend upon the relevant labour agreement. Please contact us for further details

In addition, there must not be any adverse information known that is relevant to the business’s suitability as an approved sponsor.

NOTE: Adverse information includes (but is not limited to) contraventions of Commonwealth, State or Territory Laws relating to matters such as immigration, industrial relations or taxation; pending investigations or disciplinary actions; being the subject of administrative action for possible contravention of the law; insolvency; or having provided bogus documents or false/misleading information to the Department of Home Affairs (the DOHA).

Nominated Position

In general, and unless specifically exempt or a labour agreement concession applies, the position to be filled must:

  • be a genuine, full-time position that is included in the employer’s labour agreement

NOTE: Occupations included in a particular labour agreement may be subject to additional requirements (e.g. work experience, location, type of business operated by the sponsor, nature of position). Please contact us for further details based on your particular circumstances.

  • be in a designated regional area of Australia
  • be likely to exist for at least 5 years
  • have a salary that is:
  • at least $53,900 per year (excluding any non-monetary benefits) unless concessions apply AND
  • at least the annual market salary rate (AMSR) for the nominated occupation

NOTES: the AMSR for your nominated occupation (excluding non-monetary benefits) must also be no less than $53,900 per year. The AMSR is the salary that an Australian earns (or would earn) for performing equivalent work on a full-time basis for a year in the same workplace at the same location. You will be exempt from this requirement if your salary is more than $250,000 per year. Any permitted concessions to this requirement will be described in the labour agreement.

  • be subject to terms and conditions of employment that are no worse than those that apply (or would apply) to Australians performing equivalent work in the same location
  • have been subjected to ‘Labour Market Testing’ (LMT) i.e. the sponsor must have attempted to recruit a suitably skilled and qualified Australian to work in the nominated position. This requires the sponsor to provide evidence that it has advertised the position within the last 4 months, for at least 4 weeks, unless flexible arrangements apply

NOTE: Alternative LMT criteria apply in certain circumstances. Evidence provided in support of LMT must meet strict criteria regarding the location, type, content and duration of the advertisement. Please contact us for further information regarding the type of LMT required for the nomination.

Visa Applicant

In general, as the visa applicant you must:

NOTE: Certain applicants will be required to undergo a formal skills assessment, which must be commenced prior to lodging the visa application. Please contact us for further details based on your particular circumstances

  • genuinely intend to work in the nominated position
  • have the level of English proficiency specified by the labour agreement
  • meet any mandatory licensing, registration, or professional membership requirements
  • meet the relevant health and character criteria


Stage 1: Labour Agreement Request

The Labour Agreement request is lodged with the DOHA on behalf of your employer. The main criterion is that your employer’s business is actively and lawfully operating in Australia and meets the requirements for the type of labour agreement requested. A labour agreement is generally valid for five years. During this time, the business can nominate overseas workers for subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visas (and subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme and/or subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visas, if provided for in the labour agreement).


Businesses who are approved to sponsor overseas workers for SESR visas under a labour agreement MUST comply with certain obligations imposed by the DOHA. These obligations are designed to protect overseas workers from exploitation, and to ensure that the visa program is used correctly.

In particular, please note that a business approved as a labour agreement sponsor must not attempt to recover any of the costs associated with applying for a labour agreement or nominations (including migration agent costs and Skilling Australians Fund levies), or any costs directly associated with recruiting overseas workers for nominated positions. Approved sponsors may however be able to recover GST and/or claim a tax deduction for payment of fees and costs associated with applying for a labour agreement, and we recommend that independent tax advice is sought in this regard if relevant.

Approved sponsors must also maintain certain records relating to their labour agreement and SESR (and 186 and/or 482) nominations. This includes records substantiating the sponsor’s annual turnover, as well as records confirming how, and by whom, each Skilling Australians Fund levy was paid. Such records must be provided to the DOHA upon request.

Please contact our office for further information, including a full list of the sponsor obligations.

Stage 2: Nomination Application

The nomination application is lodged with the DOHA on behalf of your employer, after the labour agreement comes into effect and during the labour agreement validity period. The main criterion is that the nomination meets the requirements listed above.

Skilling Australians Fund Levy

Sponsors must pay the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy for each subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) nomination lodged with the DOHA. The amount payable varies based on the sponsor’s annual turnover:

·         For employers with an annual turnover of LESS THAN AU$10 million, the SAF levy is AU$3,000 per nomination.

·         For employers with an annual turnover of AT LEAST AU$10 million, the SAF levy is AU$5,000 per nomination.

The SAF levy must be paid upfront, at the time that the nomination is lodged.

NOTE: If a subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa holder changes employer, the new employer must pay a pro-rated SAF levy for the remaining validity period of that person’s visa, at the nomination stage.

Please contact our office for further information regarding the SAF levy.

Stage 3: Visa Application

Your visa application is lodged with the DOHA either at the same time as the nomination application, or before the nomination expires (generally within 12 months of approval). The main criterion is that you fulfil the requirements listed above.

You may generally be in or outside Australia when applying for this visa. However, you may be ineligible to apply in Australia if you do not hold the required type of visa or have previously been refused a visa (or had your visa cancelled).

Once the DOHA has approved the nomination and visa application, you will be granted a subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa, which is valid for 5 years.

Visa Conditions

This visa has several conditions that you must comply with. For instance, you must only work in the nominated occupation, and for the employer that nominated you.

Additionally, you must notify the DOHA of any changes in your circumstances e.g. new residential address, email address, phone number, passport details, place of work, within the required timeframe. You must also comply with requests from the DOHA for information, and attend any interview requested by the DOHA. If you would like more information about the conditions of this visa, please contact us.

Book a meeting today for a commitment free briefing with our Registered Migration Agents in Melbourne to find more about your visa options.