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Employer Nomination Scheme visa (186)

Get an Australian 186 visa

For skilled workers either on a Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa or for highly skilled workers who have never held a TSS visa in the past, permanent residency in Australia is a highly attractive prospect. While it is not necessarily clear from the Department of Home Affairs’ website, these visa applicants can apply for a Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186), as this visa lets skilled workers become Australian permanent residents. While most applicants will be a TSS visa holder, some applicants in specific occupations will also have the ability to apply for permanent residency directly through this visa subclass.

While applicants are empowered to apply for a ENS visa independently, for applicants who want specific information, tailored guidance or application assistance in relation to an ENS visa.

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What sets Australian Migration Agents apart

What is the Employer Nomination Scheme Visa?

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visas are an Australian employer sponsored visa that is divided into three different visa streams, similar to a TSS visa.

Temporary Residence Transition Stream

The first stream is the Temporary Residence Transition stream. This is for applicants who are currently visa holders of a Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa. If applicants have worked with their Australian employer for at least two years on their visa, their approved Australian employer is able to nominate them for an ENS visa. In order to be eligible for this stream, applicants must be engaged in a nominated occupation that is listed on the short term skilled occupation list or the medium term skilled occupation list.

Direct Entry Stream

Alternatively, the Direct Entry stream does not require that applicants have worked for an employer prior to that employer sponsoring their visa. However, direct entry stream applicants can only apply for this stream if they are engaged in an eligible occupation listed on the medium term skilled occupation list and have received a positive skills assessment from the relevant skills assessing authority. They also require you to have a minimum of three years’ relevant work experience.

Labour Agreement Stream

Some applicants may be eligible to apply for the Labour Agreement stream. However, this is only available for applicants who have received a TSS visa in the Labour Agreement stream and the Labour Agreement must outline that ENS nominations are allowed.

All ENS applicants, should their visa be granted, must agree to work for their nominating employer for a period of two years following the visa grant.

Eligibility requirements for a subclass 186 visa in Australia

To be eligible for a ENS visa, visa applicants must meet several requirements set out by the Australian Government. While all of the requirements can be found on the Department’s website, these requirements include:

  • The visa applicant must have a valid passport
  • The visa applicant must be sponsored by their potential employer (if applying in the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, the occupation applied for must be the same as the occupation worked under the TSS visa)
  • Visa applicants under the Temporary Residence Transition stream must have worked for their sponsoring employer on a full time basis for a minimum of two years while holding the TSS visa
  • Visa applicants under the Direct Entry stream must have a valid skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority and three years of work experience
  • All applicants must have all the necessary qualifications, registrations and licences as required for the occupation
  • Visa applicants must be younger than 45 (exceptions apply)
  • Visa applicants must meet the relevant English language requirements 
  • Visa applicants must meet the various health and character requirements
  • The Department will also assess applicant’s visa history, including any valid visa they have held or if they have had a visa cancelled

Where applicants need help assessing their eligibility, an Australian Migration Agent can help.

Benefits of the 186 visa

As stated earlier, the ENS visa provides applicants with the opportunity to receive Australian permanent residency without needing a state nomination or invitation. As a result, an ENS visa has a number of benefits for applicants. These include:

  • The ability to remain in Australia indefinitely
  • The ability to work and study in Australia
  • The ability to enrol in Australia’s public healthcare scheme (Medicare)
  • Sponsor eligible relatives’ visas
  • Travel to and from Australia for 5 years (with a Resident Return Visa being required after that period to re-enter Australia)
  • Apply for Australian citizenship (if eligible)
  • A minimum salary of $73,150 per year plus super

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186 visa checklist

To make an ENS visa application, more than the visa application form is required to be submitted to the Department. Applicants will be required to produce relevant documents and supporting evidence, including if they have to show that they have worked for their employer for at least two years under the Temporary Residence Transition stream or if they have undertaken skills assessments for the Direct Entry stream.

As applications are decided on a case-by-case basis, it is difficult to determine what evidence every application will require, however, the following is a list of documents that should be included in any application.

  • Passport
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Divorce/death certificate for previous spouse (if applicable)
  • Proof of name change (if applicable)
  • National identity card (if applicable)
  • Birth certificates
  • Current CV or resume
  • Evidence of relevant qualifications
  • Evidence of English language proficiency 
  • Skills assessment applications outcomes (DE stream)
  • Evidence of registration or licencing (if applicable)
  • Reference letter from former employers
  • Evidence that you have worked for your current employer for at least two years on a TSS visa (TRT stream)
  • A signed employment contract
  • A written reference letter (TRT stream)
  • Nominated position details
  • Salary details
  • Evidence of the genuine need for the employee (DE stream)
  • Evidence that the business is actively and lawfully operating
  • Military service record or discharge papers (if applicable)
  • Medical checks 
  • Police certificates from former countries of residence 
  • English test results

How the Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visa works

Applying for an ENS visa occurs over a two stage process for all streams.

At the first stage, and similar to a TSS visa application, the sponsoring employer must first lodge a nomination for the position the visa applicant will hold in their business. The nomination needs to be approved before the visa can be granted. It is possible to lodge the visa application prior to the nomination being finalised however applicants should do this after receiving advice from an Australian Migration Agent.

The second stage of the process is making the visa application. This includes lodging the relevant visa application form with the Department, supplying evidence that the applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria set by the Department and pays the relevant visa fee. Applicants should be aware that as this is a permanent visa, the health and English language requirements are higher than those required for a temporary visa. 

Australian Migration Agents can provide advice and assistance to sponsoring Australian employers and visa applicants alike at any stage in the ENS visa application process.

Future pathways after your Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visa

Visa applicants should be aware that if granted a ENS visa, holders of this visa type have permanent residency in Australia. The benefits of this are detailed above, but this means that other than returning to Australia after five years (where a Resident Return visa is required) applicants do not need to apply for a further visa and can remain in Australia permanently. Furthermore, these visa holders can apply for Australian citizenship where eligible and can sponsor eligible family members.

Benefits of using a registered migration agent

Using a registered migration agent, like an Australian Migration Agent, gives applicants the opportunity to maximise their prospects at success. Applying for any visa can be stressful, confusing and time-consuming, however, an Australian Migration Agent can help at every stage during this process and apply their knowledge and experience of the Australian immigration system to provide relevant advice and guidance. This includes through:

  • Consultation and engagement
  • Preparation and support
  • Submission and communication
  • Representation and success

Employer Nomination Scheme ENS 186 visa costs

There are two main costs that are associated with any ENS visa application.

Department fees

The relevant fees for the Department of Home Affairs in relation to an ENS application are as follows:

  • Nomination stage - application fee $540 (nil if the position is located in regional Australia)
  • Nomination stage - Skilling Australians Fund levy $3,000-5,000 (based on business turnover)
  • Visa stage - application fee $4,640

Professional Services Fees

At Australian Migration Agents, we tailor our fees to the specific needs of each of our clients, as every visa application is different from the next. Furthermore, we work on a fixed-fee basis rather than other types of billing models to give clients certainty about the costs associated with their visa application. Moreover, we provide a variety of payment options and payment plans allowing clients with differing financial needs access to our services based on their circumstances. 

Visa application steps

The visa application process can be challenging and time-consuming, but our team at Australian Migration Agents handles this daily and understands the requirements needed for successful outcomes. Get in touch to discuss your eligibility and explore the most budget-friendly services available to you.

Book a consultation

Step 1

Consultation and engagement

Organise a consultation time to speak with one of our agents. You can meet with us in person, via Zoom or telephone. Following this, we will send you paperwork that confirms our engagement to represent you.

Step 2

Preparation and submission

We will prepare written submissions in support of your visa application. This will be based on your individual circumstances, and supported by evidence where appropriate. We then submit your application to the relevant body (Department of Home Affairs, courts or tribunal)

Step 3

Representation and success

We will keep you informed about your application, and notify you of the outcome. If you receive an unfavourable outcome and we can reapply, we will!

186 Visa processing times

Applicants should be aware that there are a number of factors that may impact how long it takes for any given visa application to be processed. This includes delays that may arise as a result of lodging an invalid, incomplete or inaccurate visa application. As applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, it can be difficult to predict exactly how long an application may take to be processed. 

Applicants should note that the Department does provide estimates for the processing times of a ENS visa on their website based on what stream has been applied for. Following the finalisation of a nomination, for the Temporary Residence Transition stream applications are being processed between 8 to 13 months, with Direct Entry stream applications taking between 4 and 10 months.

Employer Nomination Scheme visa considerations

Applicants should acknowledge that as the Department has ultimate discretion over visa applications, an Australian Migration Agent cannot guarantee that a visa will be granted following an application. However, at Australian Migration Agents, we can assist applicants to make ‘decision-ready’ applications that include all of the relevant information and required evidence. An Australian Migration Agent can assist applicants and sponsors at any stage of the process and are committed to providing our clients with the best possible chances of success.

Australia-wide services

Our skilled team offers in-person and virtual appointments, which means we can provide immigration assistance and advice regardless of where you live in Australia.  

Frequently asked questions

Read our most frequently asked questions

What is an ENS visa?

An ENS visa (subclass 186) is a permanent visa that allows skilled workers to apply to be a permanent resident of Australia. There are various eligibility criteria and applicants will require an employer to sponsor their application.

What is the difference between 482 and 186 visas?

The Temporary Skills Shortage (subclass 482) visa is different from the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa. The TSS visa allows skilled workers to come to Australia for a temporary period and work for an employer. The ENS visa allows skilled workers to remain in Australia as a permanent resident. TSS visa holders should be aware that they may be eligible to apply for an ENS visa.

How long does it take to get a PR with a 186 visa?

For applicants who become holders of an ENS (subclass 186) visa, they will be permanent residents as a result of the grant of this visa. They do not need to apply for permanent residency, but may, if eligible, apply for Australian citizenship.

Can I leave my job after getting a 186 visa?

Applicants should be aware that when applying for an ENS visa, they are required to agree that they will remain with their sponsoring employer for a period of two years. Where applicants wish to leave that employer during that period, applicants should seek advice from an Australian Migration Agent.

How many points do you need for 186 visa?

Applicants should be aware that different eligibility criteria may apply to different applicants depending on what stream they are applying for. As a result, it is difficult to determine what may be required by each applicant. For guidance on an applicant’s eligibility, contact an Australian Migration Agent today who can evaluate an applicant's circumstances.

Book a consultation

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