ENS and RSMS Changes - The Losers

By Mark Webster
23rd April 2012

The changes coming in on 1 July 2012 to the permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS) are quite significant.

Today, we'll go through the Losers - people who will be worse off under the changes. Unfortunately there seem to be a lot more losers than winners under the new arrangements!

1. People Working in Australia on Temporary Visas Other than 457

Under the current provisions, you can qualify for an ENS visa if you have worked in Australia for 2 years on the following temporary visas:

However, under the new system, such applicants will need to apply through the "Direct Entry" pathway. This will involve applying for skills assessment and showing at least 3 years of work experience in the nominated occupation.

The biggest impact will be felt by NZ citizens and their family members - if their formal qualifications are not sufficient to pass skills assessment, their best course of action may be to move onto a 457 visa to facilitate an ENS application. As the 457 visa is less favourable than the usual NZ citizen visa, this would be a strange outcome.

2. 457 Holders Who Swap Employers

Under the current provisions, you can qualify for an ENS visa once you have held a 457 visa and worked in your occupation:
  • For the last 2 years; and
  • For the last 12 months with your nominating employer.

To qualify for the concessional Temporary Residence Transition stream from 1 July 2012, you must have worked for your nominating employer for the last 2 years on a 457 visa.

So people who have changed employers regularly and who were relying on the current "12 months with current employer" pathway may no longer be eligible for ENS.

3. People with Poor English

The current English language requirements for ENS and RSMS visas are:
  • ENS: 5 minimum in each of the 4 components of IELTS (Vocational); and
  • RSMS: 4.5 average in IELTS or equivalent (Functional)

Under the new system, the minimum for Temporary Residence Transitional Applicants will be 5 minimum, and for Direct Entrants 6 minimum for both RSMS and ENS.

As a result, the English language requirement will be much higher for RSMS - 4.5 average to potentially 6 minimum for direct entrants. Currently, many RSMS applicants don't even need to do IELTS testing as they hold qualifications taught in English medium.

In addition, the waiver provisions for English language will be much tighter under the new system, and will be limited to:

  • People in certain occupations (eg Ministers of Religion and Research Scientists)
  • 457 holders who have studied for 5 consecutive years at secondary or higher level in English medium

4. ENS Employers with Poor Training Records

Currently, the training requirement for ENS is actually lower than the requirement for 457 visas.

457 visas are subject to an objective test, namely:

  • 1% of payroll spent on formal training each financial year; or
  • 2% of payroll paid into a training fund

Generally, this must be demonstrated by providing invoices for training, or alternatively evidence of formal traineeships. On the job training can be counted for ENS under the current system, but not for 457.

As a result, employers looking at sponsoring for ENS may need to increase their spend on formal training activities.

5. People Requiring Work Experience Waivers for ENS

Under the current system it is possible for a wide range of applicants to get a waiver of the 3-year work experience requirement for ENS. These include:
  • International Students who have recently completed studies in Australia
  • People who have applied for a general skilled (points tested) visa

There are only limited circumstances where a work experience waiver will be possible under the new system, namely:

  • People in certain occupations (eg Ministers of Religion and Research Scientists)
  • High salary earners ($250,000 base salary)

6. Applicants for RSMS in Trade Occupations

Currently, RSMS applicants do not require skills assessments.

However, in the new system, applicants in trade occupations (eg cooks, hairdressers, electricians, carpenters) may need to do a skills assessment through TRA to qualify for an RSMS visa.

Exceptions would include:

  • People with Australian qualifications at AQF III level or higher;
  • People who have worked for their employer for the last 2 years on a 457 visa

7. People Sponsored for 457 under a Labour Agreement

Currently, people sponsored for a 457 under a labour agreement are able to apply for an ENS or RSMS visa in the same way as any other 457 visa holder.

However, under the new system, such applicants will not be able to apply under the concessional Temporary Residence Transition stream like other 457 holders. They will instead need to apply through either the:

  • Agreement Stream: in which case, the Labour Agreement would need to make specific provision for sponsorship for permanent visas; or
  • Direct Entry Stream: which will require skills assessment plus three years of work experience


The changes to the Permanent Sponsored Entry visas will be quite comprehensive. Many applicants will be better off under the current ENS/RSMS program and should consider lodging their application for permanent residence prior to 1 July 2012.

Please contact us for a consultation if you would like to know how the changes will impact you.

You can call us on 02 9230 0888 to set up a time for a consultation, or make an email inquiry through our website.

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