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186 Visa – Employer Nomination Scheme

Eligibility | Pathways | Application Stages | Processing Times | Employer Requirements | FAQ | Citizenship

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 457 or 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 – announced on 5 May, 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:

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 457 visa and/or a 482 visa for the last two years (if applicants held or have applied for a 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017); or three years under an occupation listed on the Medium to Long term List. In this case, no skills assessment is required, and a competent English level is required.

    Those who applied or held a 457 visa on or prior to the changes announced on 18 April 2017 may still be eligible for permanent residency through this pathway despite your occupation no longer being on an occupation list or on the short term list. If you held a 457 visa or had applied for a 457 on or before the 18 April 2017 you still have the opportunity to apply for Permanent Residence under ENS, under the two-year pathway.

  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 457/482 visa. Difficulties which can be encountered in applying for ENS visas include:

ENS 186 Visa Application stages

There are two stages to the ENS Subclass 186 application:

  1. Nomination:

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

  2. 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:

Employer/Sponsor Requirements

To nominate a skilled worker for a Subclass 186 Permanent Residence visa, a business must: 


How Much Does the 186 Visa Cost?

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 cost of a 186 visa is AUD$4,115.00 for the main application.
To check the Government visa application charge please access

What are the English Language Requirements for 186 Visa?

You will need to prove you have competent English language skills for your application to be successful. Proving English Competency can be achieved by having a score of 6 or greater for each component of an IELTS test. The test must have been completed within three years of the date of lodgement of your application.

Alternatively, you can hold an equivalent score on another accepted English test, or be a holder of a valid passport issued by New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada or Ireland.

What Can You and Your Family Can Do Upon Your 186 Visa Approval?

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

Subclass 186 Visa Conditions After Visa Grant

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.

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) to Citizenship

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.

186 Visa Success Story

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.

Would you like to know more about your prospects for a visa?

Eligibility is the most important step in determining whether a person may meet the legal criteria for a visa application and one consultation could save you money.

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