The Permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 visa allows an employer to nominate a person from overseas to migrate to Australia permanently.

To apply for a Subclass 186 visa, you need an Australian employer to offer you a job and to nominate you. Whether you have an employer who is willing to nominate you is a practical matter. You are more likely to find a nominator if you are already living in Australia.

Not all positions can be nominated. The occupation must be on the Subclass 186 Occupations List and it must be a genuine position that is consistent with the nature of the business. The employer must be unable to find an Australian worker, to pay a market salary rate for the position, and offer conditions equivalent to Australian workers. Before you can apply for the visa, you need three years of work experience in the nominated occupation and to have your qualifications and work experience accredited in Australia.

There are two eligibility streams plus a Labour Agreement stream for this visa. The first allows you to apply for permanent residence directly and the second allows you to transition to the Subclass 186 visa after working for your employer for three years while holding a Subclass 482 visa.

The process of nominating a person can be complex for employers. Smaller businesses are sometimes unwilling to go through the process and expense of becoming a nominator. Employers may also need legal advice about whether they can nominate a particular person, and the process, costs, and obligations of nomination.

We invite you to contact us if you need further information about nominating a person to apply for a Subclass 186 visa or applying for a Subclass 186 visa yourself.

Permanent Employer Nomination Scheme
(Subclass 186)

This visa lets skilled workers, who are nominated by their employer, live and work in Australia permanently.

With this visa, you can

  • stay in Australia indefinitely
  • work and study in Australia
  • enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme, Medicare
  • sponsor eligible relatives to come to Australia
  • travel to and from Australia for five years
  • apply for Australian citizenship after living in Australia for four years
  • Visa Streams

    This visa has 3 main streams:

    1. The Temporary Residence Transition stream:
    This stream is for workers who are currently in Australia holding a Subclass 457 / Subclass 482 visa. You must have worked for three years in the same occupation with your employer and have the on-going support of your employer to apply. The occupation must be on the Subclass 186 Occupations List.

    2. The Direct Entry stream:
    This stream is for applicants who have an occupation on the Subclass 186 Occupations List, and who have Competent English, are accredited in the occupation, and who have three years of work experience in your occupation. This stream allows you to apply directly for permanent residence in Australia.

    3. The Labour Agreement stream:
    This stream is for workers who have been employed by an employer with a Labour Agreement with the Australian Government. Labour agreements are developed between the Australian Government (represented by the Department of Home Affairs) and employers. To be eligible, you must meet age, skills and English language requirements.

    Application stages

    Applying for a Subclass 186 visa is a two-step process. This involves two separate applications to the Australian Government. These applications can be made at the same time or sequentially but both need to be approved for the visa to be granted.

    • Nomination: the business needs to nominate the position
    • Visa Application: the applicant needs to meet age, language, skills, character and health requirements.
    • Travel

      You can travel in and out of Australia as many times as you want for five years from the date of the visa grant. After five years you will need a Resident Return (RRV) visa to re-enter Australia as a permanent resident.

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

The general requirements to apply for this visa are to:

  • be nominated by an Australian employer in an occupation on the Subclass 186 Occupations List
  • be under 45 years of age when you apply
  • meet the skills, qualifications and English language requirements, unless you are exempt
  • have three years of work experience in the occupation
  • meet health and character requirements
  • not have had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused.

    To apply for a visa in the Direct Entry stream you also need to be formally accredited in your occupation.

Processing times are indicative only and may vary depending on individual circumstances or government policy. The latest processing times published by the Department of Home Affairs are as follows:

  • 75% of applications: 4 months
  • 90% of applications: 12 months

This visa costs AUD$4,045 for the main applicant, AUD$2,025 for each dependent 18 years and over, and AUD$1,010 for each dependent under 18 years.

To work out what your visa will cost use the Visa Pricing Estimator. The estimator does not include other costs you might also have to pay such as those for police certificates, health checks, biometrics and professional fees to get assistance with the visa application process from an immigration lawyer/agent.

Employer costs

There are also fees the employer must pay.

Nomination fee: $540
Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) levy

The SAF levy for small business is: $1,200 for each visa year
The SAF levy for large business is: $1,800 for each visa year

The SAF levy is paid into a Government fund used to provide training to Australian permanent residents and citizens.

Note: These fees must be paid by the employer and cannot be passed on to the visa applicant.

To discover whether you are eligible for Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186), we invite you to book a consultation with one of our expert migration lawyers.

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