Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 Visas

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) results in a permanent visa for the sponsored employee. While it has been a common way for 457/TSS visa holders to qualify for permanent residence, it does have a higher skill level than the 457/TSS visa.

ENS Stages

There are two stages to the ENS subclass 186 application:

  • Nomination: involves review of the business operations as well as the position offered to the employee. Employers will also be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy, which is $3,000 or $5,000 depending on turnover. Immigration announced the expectation that Labour Market Testing will be undertaken for ENS nominations - read our blog here for more information.
  • Visa Application: there are three possible pathways, though all must have Competent English, as well as provide health and police checks. If nominating a licensed occupation, the applicant must hold a full licence in order to meet the skill requirements.

Application Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an ENS visa:

  1. Direct Entry Stream: Applicants will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their occupation and show that they have worked in their occupation for three years. Applicants must also be under the age of 45 years, be nominating an occupation on the Medium Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and have competent English
  2. Temporary Residence Transition: In this case no skills assessment is required however, unless Grandfathering Provisions apply (see below), applicants need to be under 45 years of age at the time of lodgement, have worked with the nominating employer on a 457 and/or TSS visa for at least 3 years, and nominate an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  3. Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement with permanent positions available. Requirements are set out in the Agreement.
In some instances, exemptions may be applicable to the above requirements.

Grandfathering Provisions

Subclass 457 visa applicants and visa holders as at 18 April 2017 have access to transitional arrangements until 2022. These arrangements allow them to preserve their eligibility for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transition stream as it existed in 2017.

To be eligible for these transitional arrangements, applicants must have either:

  • Held a 457 visa as at 18 April 2017, or
  • Had a pending 457 visa application as at 18 April 2017, which resulted in the approval of a 457 or TSS visa.
Applicants who are eligible to apply via these provisions will not need to meet the new requirements in relation to:
  • Occupation: applicants may qualify even if their occupation is not on the MLTSSL or has since been removed from the occupations list altogether
  • Age: applicants may still qualify if they are aged between 45 and 49 years of age. In some instances, further exemptions may apply to those aged above 49 years
  • Work experience on the 457 visa: applicants may qualify once they have worked in their nominated occupation for their nominating employer for at least 2 years whilst holding a 457/TSS visa

New Zealand Citizens and Family

Holders of a Subclass 444 Special Category visa or 461 NZ Citizen Family Relationship visa can access age and skill waivers through the Direct Entry stream of an ENS visa if they have worked for their nominating employer for at least 2 years in their nominated occupation.

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