Update: The Department of Jobs and Small Business have flagged the following potential changes to the Skilled Occupation Lists in their May 2018 newsletter.
The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) 186 visa is a permanent residency visa that requires the sponsorship of a nominating Australian employer/business. There are three separate pathways or streams for the 186 visa permanent residency visa:
- Direct Entry (‘DE’) stream
- Temporary Residence Transition (‘TRT’) stream
- Labour Agreement (‘LA’) stream
Department’s current processing times (updated: 8 June 2018)
The Department’s processing time for the 187 nomination and visa applications increased significantly in 2017. The Department’s current processing times are approximately:
Direct entry stream: 12-18 months or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application (we do note that the Department’s current processing time varies a lot at the moment. We do tend to find that applications by larger businesses are generally assessed with quicker processing times, perhaps due to the Department having less concerns with such applications in terms of the business’ need for the nominated role, and the business’ capacity to pay the proposed salary)
Temporary residency transition stream: 12-18 months or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application
Please note that the above information is only providing estimated processing time information based on our recent experience, and actual processing times will vary for each individual application. Generally speaking, more complicated applications which may have issues satisfying the relevant legal requirements may take the Department longer to assess and decide.
Please also see Department website in relation to current processing time information:
|Stream||75 per cent of applications processed||90 per cent of applications processed|
|Temporary Residence Transition stream||12 months||13 months|
|Direct Entry stream||11 months||16 months|
|Agreement stream||Unavailable due to low volume of applications.||Unavailable due to low volume of applications.|
186 visa – Primary visa applicant
The following requirements need to be satisfied by the primary visa applicant under both the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition streams. Hence, these are common requirements which need to be satisfied by the primary visa applicant under either of these streams. In addition to these requirements, the primary visa applicant needs to satisfy the specific and different requirements that apply to the particular stream that the primary visa applicant is applying under – see below explanation:
- Age:Primary visa applicant must be under 45 years of age at the time that the visa application is lodged (primary applicant can turn 45 years of age or older after lodgement of the visa application). There are only a few allowed exemptions to this age requirement.
- English: Competent English language ability is required for both the TRT and DE streams. Primary applicants under the Labour Agreement stream must also demonstrate Competent English ability, unless your sponsoring employer/business has a Labour Agreement that provides a lower English requirement. You can use an English result from an examination conducted within the last 3 years immediately before the date of lodgement of your visa application. You may however be required to achieve higher English examination scores than the minimum English requirement of Competent English if this is required for your skill assessment (Direct entry stream), or if a higher level of English is required in order to obtain mandatory registration, licence or professional membership that is required to work in your nominated occupation.
- Holds (or is eligible for) any mandatory registration, licence or professional membership: If any mandatory registration, licence or professional membership is required to work in your nominated occupation, then you hold or are eligible for this mandatory registration, licence or professional membership. For example, you need to be registered (or be eligible for registration) with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to work in Australia as a registered nurse, doctor and other health care professional occupations
- Applying in Australia: You can apply for this visa if you are in Australia as a temporary visa holder, or a Bridging visa A, B or C (if you are a Bridging visa A, B or C, then you will not be able to lodge this visa application when you are in Australia if you have had a visa refusal and you are waiting for a Tribunal or Court hearing due to Section 48. You can apply for a Bridging visa B, which allows you to temporarily leave Australia to lodge your 186 visa application and then return to Australia. The Department can decide your 186 visa application when you are in Australia).
- Health and character: Primary visa applicant and all members of his or her family unit must satisfy the health and character requirements for the grant of a permanent residency visa. If any member of the family unit fails to satisfy the health and/or character requirements, then the visa applications may be refused for the primary applicant and all family members. Members of the family unit who are not included in the visa application also need to satisfy the health and character requirements, even though he or she is not included in the permanent residency visa application.
- Commitment to work in nominated role: Visa applicant needs to make the commitment to work in the nominated role for a period of at least 2 years from the date that permanent residency is granted. The employer will also need to make the commitment to ensure that the nominated role is available to the visa applicant for a period of at least 2 years.
Important: You will need to find an Australian business to sponsor you before you can proceed with your application. You cannot complete this employer sponsored visa independently without an Australian employer. As far as we are aware, you are unlikely to receive an invitation if you are trying to find an employer through the Department’s Expression of Interest database. Please note that the above listed requirements are not the only requirements that the visa applicant and the employer/sponsor need to satisfy in order to obtain a 186 visa. The above only outlines the key requirements.
186 nomination – Sponsoring Australian business
The following requirements apply to both the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition nomination applications by the sponsoring business. Hence, these are common requirements which need to be satisfied for applications under either of these streams. In addition to these requirements, the sponsoring business needs to satisfy the specific and different requirements of the particular stream that the business is applying under – see below explanation:
- Salary is equivalent to what is or would be paid to an Australian employee: The business needs to demonstrate that the visa applicant’s proposed salary is consistent with the ‘Australian market rate’ for the nominated role.
- Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT): In order for your nominated role to be sponsorable and eligible, your sponsoring employer needs to show that the ‘Australian market rate’ for your role is at least equal to TSMIT (which is currently AUD $53,900 per annum).
- Training benchmark requirement: The business will need to satisfy the ‘training benchmark’ requirement, which generally means that it will need to provide training to its Australian citizen and permanent resident employees.
- Commitment to work in nominated role: Visa applicant needs to make the commitment to work in the nominated role for a period of at least 2 years from the date that permanent residency is granted. The employer will also need to make the commitment to ensure that the nominated role is available to the visa applicant for a period of at least 2 years. The Department will assess the business’ financial position, financial history, current operations and clients, current staff and payroll expenses etc. Based on this information, the Department needs to be satisfied that the business will continue to operate for at least the next 2 years, and provide the primary applicant with employment in his or her nominated role.
- Compliance with migration and Australian law: The business has a history of compliance with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws.
- No adverse information: There is no adverse information known about the sponsoring business or any person associated with the sponsoring business, or it is reasonable to disregard this information.
Direct Entry (DE) stream
Primary visa applicant requirements under Direct Entry stream:
- Work experience*: Three years of full-time work experience that relates to your nominated occupation. Generally speaking, you can only count relevant work experience after you completed your relevant education qualification / apprenticeship / trade or vocational education. Part-time or casual work experience can be counted on a pro-rate basis, so 12 months of part-time or casual experience should be equivalent to 6 months of full-time experience.
- Skill assessment for nominated occupation: Obtain a skill assessment from the relevant skill assessment body for your nominated occupation. A skill assessment is only valid until the expiry date specified on the assessment, if any is stated. Otherwise, your skill assessment is valid for a period of three years from the date of issue. Your skill assessment must be valid at the time that you lodge your visa application (this can expire after lodgement during the Department’s processing time). You can find the relevant skill assessment bodies listed on the current occupation list (e.g. VETASSESS, CPA etc.).
*You are exempt from having to complete a skill assessment if you are a Subclass 444 (New Zealand citizens) or Subclass 461 visa holder (relative of a New Zealand citizen) and you have worked in an eligible occupation for the same employer for at least 2 out of the last 3 years (excluding periods of unpaid leave).
You are also exempt from this skill assessment requirement if your sponsoring employer is any of the following:
- an academic by a university in Australia or
- a scientist, researcher, or technical specialist by an Australian government (including State and Territory) scientific agency
Business nomination requirements under Direct Entry stream:
- Eligible occupations: Nominate an eligible occupation under the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
- Caveat requirements if applicable: Some eligible occupations are marked with an asterisk* which means that the sponsoring business needs to demonstrate that the following additional caveat requirements are also satisfied.
- Genuine business need for the nominated role: This is a discretionary requirement where the Department will assess various aspects of the sponsoring business (based on the documents and information provided in the business nomination application) such as the business’ financial position, financial history, current operations and clients, current staff and payroll expenses, and documents provided to demonstrate the business’ current need for the nominated role etc. The Department will then decide if the business has sufficiently demonstrated its genuine need for the nominated full-time role.
Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream
The following transitional arrangements only apply if you held a Primary 457 visa, or was applying for a Primary 457 visa, on 18 April 2017:
- Two years of work as a 457 (and 482 TSS if applicable) visa holder: The primary applicant needs to have at least two years of full-time work as a 457 and/or 482 TSS visa holder in the last three years. You must complete these two years of work with your sponsoring employer for your 186 nomination and visa applications, and in the nominated role which was approved for your 457 and/or 482 TSS visa. You can also count time on a bridging visa, if you were applying for a 457 or 482 TSS visa application, and you were already the holder of a 457 or 482 TSS visa. You must complete the full two years of work before your sponsoring employer lodges their nomination application, and you lodge your visa application.
- Eligible occupations: The business nomination application can nominate the same occupation and ANZSCO occupation code as the 457 visa application which the Department approved, even if this occupation is no longer on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
Otherwise, all other primary applicants will need to satisfy the following requirements:
Primary visa applicant requirements under Temporary Residence Transition stream:
- Three years of work as a 457 and/or 482 TSS visa holder: The primary applicant needs to have at least three years of full-time work as a 457 and/or 482 TSS visa holder in the last four years. You must complete these three years of work with your sponsoring employer for your 186 nomination and visa applications, and in the nominated role which was approved for your 457 and/or 482 TSS visa. You can also count time on a bridging visa, if you were applying for a 457 or 482 TSS visa application, and you were already the holder of a 457 or 482 TSS visa. You must complete the full three years of work before your sponsoring employer lodges their nomination application, and you lodge your visa application.
Business nomination requirements under Temporary Residence Transition stream:
- Eligible occupations: Nominate an eligible occupation under the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
- Performance of nominated role by 457 and/or 482 TSS visa holder: The following requirement was added to the business nomination requirements, under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, which indicates that the Department can potentially look at the work performed by the and/or 482 TSS visa holder, and determine if he or she was working in their approved and nominated role: there is no information known to Immigration that indicates that the identified person is not genuinely performing the tasks of the occupation as specified in ANZSCO
Labour Agreement (LA) stream
Information coming soon!
Equivalent terms and conditions of employment
Your sponsoring employer needs to demonstrate that the terms and conditions of your employment are no less favourable than the terms and conditions of employment that would be provided to an ‘equivalent Australian citizen or permanent resident’ (known as the ‘market rate’ requirement). This can be shown by providing a contract of an Australian citizen or permanent resident that is working in the same position and location as the role that you are nominated to perform for the purposes of the visa application.
Your employer may not have an Australian citizen or permanent resident that works as an employee in the same role and location as your nominated role.
If this is the case, then your employer can provide evidence of what the Australian market salary rate is for your nominated role and show that your salary is at least equal to the market rate. This is generally demonstrated by providing Australian market salary survey data. This data needs to be relevant to the nominated role and the location where you will be working (i.e. market salary data, such as Hays Salary Guides, will usually give specific data for various capital cities around Australia).
The application process
You can only lodge an application using the Department’s online portal. You can only prepare the online visa application form once your nominating employer has at least started to prepare the nomination application for your role (which is also prepared using the online portal). This is because you need the nomination application TRN which will be issued to your employer once they have started to prepare the nomination application.
You can lodge your visa application once your sponsoring employer has lodged the business nomination application. You do not have to wait until the Department decides the business nomination application before you lodge your visa application, although you can wait if you wish. If you wait for nomination approval, then must lodge your visa application within six months of the date that the business nomination application is approved.
After you have lodged the application, you upload the supporting documents electronically. As part of the initial application, you do not need to submit any actual paper work or forms. It is all online.
How much does this visa cost?
The below is just a list of the relevant government lodgement fees:
- 186 nomination application: $540
- Visa primary applicant fee: $3,670
- Additional applicant charge for each additional adult that is 18 years and over: $1,835
- Additional applicant charge for each additional adult that is 18 years or under: $920
Frequently asked questions
Q: For the TRT stream, can I count work that I completed under another visa like 485 and student visa?
Q: For the TRT stream, can I count work completed with a different employer?
Q: For the TRT stream, can I lodge my application before I complete 2 years of full-time work if I am close to completing 2 years?
A: No – you must satisfy the 2 year requirement at the time of application
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