Employer Nomination Scheme

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visas, or subclass 186 visas, are permanent residency visas for skilled workers which requires your employer/sponsor to have a genuine need for an on-going permanent position.

There is the temporary transition stream for those who are in Australia on the 482 visa and have worked in the occupation for a minimum set period or direct entry for offshore or onshore applicants in occupations on the medium to long-term skilled occupation list.

BREAKING NEWS – From 25 November 2023, all Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Subclass 482 visa holders will be eligible for ENS visas sponsored by their employers regardless of which occupation list they fall under. Sponsored visa holders will be eligible for ENS Temporary Transition Stream after two years (down from three years) of sponsorship on a 482 TSS.

186 Visa Eligibility Requirements

The Subclass 186 visa has six general requirements for all applicants, and more specific requirements depending on which stream you apply under.

The general requirements are:

  • have been nominated by an Australian employer and this nomination has been approved within the six months before you apply
  • are under the age of 45 at the time of application, unless exemptions apply
  • have the required skills and qualifications for the position you have been nominated for – including holding (or being eligible for) any mandatory registration, licence or professional membership
  • have appropriate English language skills
  • meet health and character requirements
  • meet the requirements of the stream in which you apply


186 Visa Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an ENS visa:

  1. Temporary Residence Transition (TRT):

    Where applicants have worked with the employer on a 482 visa for the last two years regardless of what stream your occupation falls under. In this case, no skills assessment is required, and a competent English level is required.

  2. Direct Entry Stream:

    If you do not meet the requirements under the TRT stream (for example, because you have never, or only briefly worked in Australia), the direct entry stream may then be available if your employer has a genuine need for a skilled worker in a permanent and ongoing position. The employee will need to provide a formal skill assessment in their occupation and show that they have worked in their occupation for a minimum of three years on a skilled level. The occupation can only be on the Medium Long Term List.

  3. Agreement Stream:

    For people who hold a TSS visa. Where the employer has a Labour Agreement and sponsors their employee.

ENS visas require a significantly higher level of documentation than a 482 visa. Difficulties which can be encountered in applying for ENS visas include:

  • Obtaining skills assessments – each skills assessing authority has different criteria
  • Demonstrating that the employer has a genuine need for a permanent position
  • Meet licencing and/or registration requirements

ENS 186 Visa Application stages

Involves review of the business’ operations as well as the position offered to the employee

Visa Application:
The applicants need to meet age, language, skills, character and health requirements.

Processing Time for ENS Subclass 186 Visa

Processing standards fluctuate in accordance with the departmental workload and are updated monthly.

The current guidelines provided by The Department of Home Affairs are:

  • Direct Entry Stream: 90% of applications processed within 11 months
  • Labour Agreement Stream: 90% of applications processed within 11 months
  • Transition Pathway: 90% of applications processed within 12 months


Like all other visa applications, The ENS Visa fees are usually not refunded if the application is unsuccessful; or if you decide to withdraw your application after you have lodged it.

The current Government application fee for a 186 visa is AUD$4,640.00 for the main applicant; $2,320.00 for the spouse and $1,160 for children under 18 years of age.

To check the Government visa application charge please access here.

Migration Downunder’s consultancy fee will be dependent on your individual circumstances.

You will need to prove you have competent English language skills for your application to be successful. Demonstrating English Competency can be achieved by meeting the requirements with one of the English tests, attaining the minimum results as listed below. English language results are valid for three years at the date of lodgement of your application.

Alternatively, if you are the holder of a valid passport issued by New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada or Ireland, you will automatically meet the English language requirement for this visa.

English Test Minimum Result required
IELTS Achieve a score of at least 6 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing)
OET Achieve a score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four test components
TOEFL iBT Achieve the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking
PTE Academic Achieve a test score of at least 50 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing)
Advanced CAE test Achieve a test score of at least 169 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing)

It allows you and any member of your family unit who has also been granted this visa to:

  • stay in Australia indefinitely
  • work and study in Australia
  • enrol in Medicare, Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses
  • maybe able to sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence (conditions apply)
  • travel to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted (after that time, you will need a resident return visa or another visa to return to Australia).

What happens if I leave my employer (sponsor) without completing the two years of employment, as per my two-year employment contract? Will my 186 visa be cancelled or revoked?

The Department has the capacity to consider cancellation of a visa if it becomes apparent that incorrect information was provided which was material to the grant of the visa or the visa holder is in breach of their visa conditions.

Your permanent residency status is indefinite with the travel facility of five-year multiple re-entry visa allowing you to go in and out of Australia within this period as a permanent resident. After five years, if you have been living in Australia for a minimum of two years, you can obtain another five-year multiple re-entry visa online otherwise you will have the option for Australian citizenship.

You must have been living in Australia for a minimum of four years on a permanent basis, with 12 months as a permanent resident, to be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship and your time spent in Australia on your temporary visa counts towards the four years.

If you’d like more information, feel free to book a consultation.

Andrew & Rachel

Andrew & Rachel

I remember very well the day we found out our visas were approved; we both felt a huge sense of relief and cracked open the champagne to celebrate! PR provided us with the peace of mind that we could make Australia our home for life. It meant that any children we had would be Australian citizens at birth and put us in a position to apply for citizenship last year.

“We consider this the last step in fully committing to Australia as a family. We will no longer have to worry about visa expiries and can plan for the long term here.”

Before any immigration advice can be provided, we must hold an initial consultation which will attract a fee of $385.

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