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 has an expectation that some 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 3 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 Concessional 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.

Concessional Provisions

Short-Term to PR
Holders of a 482/TSS visa in the Short-Term stream can apply for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream provided they had been in Australia for at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021. All other standard ENS TRT requirements apply, including age, English, work experience, etc.

Grandfathering
Applicants who held or had applied for a 457 visa (that was subsequently granted) as of 18 April 2017, and who wish to apply for the ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream.

These provisions state that applicants must show:

  • They are under 50 years of age, unless they were in Australia for at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021, then no age limit applies
  • They have at least Competent English
  • They have worked for the same employer for at least 2 years in their nominated occupation as the holder of a 457 and/or TSS visa (unpaid leave cannot be counted towards this requirement)

Legacy 457 Worker
Migrants who had applied for a 457 visa (that was subsequently granted) after 18 April 2017, and who were in Australia for at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 can apply with a STSOL or MLTSSL occupation and are also exempt from age limitations.

All health and character requirements must continue to be met.

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 lived in Australia for at least 3 years, and worked for their nominating employer for at least 2 years in their nominated occupation.

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