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Queensland opens small-business-owner pathway to permanent residence

Temporary visa holders in Australia now have a new pathway to permanent residence through Queensland’s small-business-owner stream of the 491 state-nominated visa. Applicants need to have purchased a business in regional Queensland (includes Gold Coast but excludes Brisbane) for at least $100,000 and hire at least one employee that has work rights on their visa that is not a family member. The employee can be part-time, but must be employed for at least 20 hours each week.

Applicants need to have owned (100%) and operated the business for at least six months before lodging the nomination application. The business can be completely unrelated to their occupation and qualifications. Applicants also need to show that have at least $10,000 of available funds to settle in Queensland.

The 491 visa is a temporary visa that can lead to permanent residence after three years as long as the applicant lives and works and studies (if relevant) in a regional location (all of Queensland except most Brisbane postcodes) and has a taxable income of at least $53,900 each year.

The 491 visa is open to applicants who are under 45, have competent English and have a positive skill assessment from the relevant skills assessing body in their nominated occupation and their occupation is on the lengthy 491 visa occupation list.

For example a cook with a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and at least 3 years full-time employment experience would be eligible to apply for a skill assessment in that occupation as long as the cook was employed for 12 months full-time in the last 3 years. The qualifications and experience requirements differ for each occupation.

The applicant must also have an occupation on the Queensland occupation list and meet the Queensland requirements. Our cook, for example, must have at least one year of employment experience after completing their studies, of which 3 months must be in a regional location in Queensland. The cook could then buy a yoga business in a regional location (Burleigh Heads for example). After operating the yoga business for 6 months and employing at least 1 part-time employee at the time of application, our cook could apply for Queensland nomination through the 491 small-business-owner stream.

The 491 visa is a points-based visa where applicants receive points for their age, employment experience, English level and other factors. The minimum points required for the 491 visa is 65 points. Due to demand, different occupations have different points thresholds. Queensland does not assess by points for the small business stream pathway, but applicants need to have at least 65 points.

The 491 visa is a two-stage visa. For the small business owner stream of the 491 visa, the first stage is to apply for nomination from the Queensland government. The second stage, after receiving the Queensland nomination, is to apply for the 491 visa with the federal government.

For temporary visa holders in other states, it is time to come to our sunny state and explore small business opportunities. Queensland has a limited number of allocations this financial year for the 491 visa, which will likely be exhausted quickly. It is best to get in early.

To find out more about this exciting and competitive new Queensland pathway to permanent residence, contact McLaughlins Lawyers on (07) 5591 5099.


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Author: Sed Crest

Directors: Ian Kennedy & Sophie Pearson

Date: 7 February 2020