Employer Nomination Scheme 186 Visa

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 visa is for skilled workers outside Australia, or skilled temporary residents in Australia who have an employer who is willing to sponsor them to become Australian permanent residents. It has three streams:

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream of the 186 visa is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years in the same position for their employer and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position.
  • The Direct Entry stream of the 186 visa is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market but have an employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent position.
  • The Agreement stream of the 186 visa is for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Each stream has different eligibility rules. There are two parts to the application.

186 Visa Changes

NOTE: This information is current as of 1/7/2017. It is possible that more changes will follow.

From 1 July 2017:

  • Occupations lists: The STSOL and  MLTSSL have been revised.
  • English language requirements: A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 6 in each component have been introduced for TRT and Direct Entry Streams
  • Age: A maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application applies to Direct Entry stream applicants. A maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply to Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants

Before 31 December 2017:

  • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for ENS visa holders and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.
  • The DIBP will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.

From March 2018:

  • MLTSSL: The MLTSSL will now apply.
  • Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).
  • Residency: The permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years.
  • Work experience: At least three years’ relevant work experience.
  • Age: All applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application.
  • The Skilling Australians Fund Levy will replace the current Training Benchmark arrangements. The amounts payable will be different for small and large businesses. For small businesses (under $10 million annual turnover) , a one-off payment of $3000 for each employee sponsored will apply. For large businesses ($10 million annual turnover or above), a one-off payment of $5000 for each employee sponsored will apply.

From March 2018, the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa.

Who is affected by the Changes?

Prospective permanent employer sponsored visa applicants and businesses sponsoring skilled migrants.

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186 Visa Nomination

The sponsoring employer must nominate the employee they wish to sponsor for the 186 visa and lodge a nomination application with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Additionally the employer must:

  • be able to prove to DIBP that the business needs to sponsor an overseas worker;
  • be able to prove to DIBP that the business has spent an amount equivalent to at least 1% of payroll training its Australian staff in the last fiscal year (meet the training benchmark) for the Direct Entry stream; and continues or is committed to meet the training requirements for the subclass 457 visa program for the Temporary Residence Transition stream;
  • pay a market salary rate;
  • nominate a skilled position on the Short-Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) formerly known as the CSOL;
  • meet a number of other eligibility criteria and provide a set of certified copy of documents in support of the nomination application.

186 Visa Application

There is a significant amount of documentation required from the visa applicant for the 186 visa in order to meet DIBP requirements. Applicants must:

  • be under 45 years of age (unless they meet certain specific exemption criteria)
  • have completed a positive skills assessment and provide evidence of at least 3 years of relevant work experience. (Direct Entry stream)
  • meet the English language requirement for their Stream (or meet specific exemption criteria);
  • meet all the other conditions for their stream such as Health and Character;

The employee is expected (but not obliged) to remain with the sponsoring employer for at least 2 years after the visa grant date. Additionally, the visa application must be lodged within 6 months of the date the nomination was approved.

Our team of qualified migration professionals has helped thousands of people migrate to Australia under the Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visas program and we can help you to understand if this pathway is right for you.

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