ENS Direct Entry Stream

webster By Mark Webster
Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The ENS visa is a permanent employer sponsored visa.

Most people are aware of the ENS Temporary Residence Transition Stream - this allows an application for permanent residence to be made after working in Australia with your employer for 2 years.

However, it is also possible for ENS through the Direct Entry Stream - this does not require that you work with your employer in Australia for 2 years but would usually require you to pass a formal skills assessment.

Changes will be made to ENS in March 2018 - after this many applicants may no longer be eligible or may pay higher lodgement fees. You may consider applying for the ENS Direct Entry Stream ahead of the March 2018 changes.

Skill Requirement for ENS Direct Entry

The usual skill requirement for the Direct Entry stream is that you have:
  • A formal skills assessment in your occupation; and
  • At least 3 years of work experience in your occupation
Skills assessment requirements vary by occupation, and understanding these requirements is key to deciding whether the Direct Entry stream is the right option for you.

Generally a formal qualification is required. If you do not have a formal qualification, then it may in some cases be possible to have a qualification issued through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Many occupations require work experience in addition to a formal qualification for the skills assessment. Generally this would be between 1-4 years, but in some cases more work experience might be required.

The skills assessment must be completed prior to lodgement of the ENS visa. As some skills assessments may take several months to process, it is important that you start the application process well in advance of any critical dates.

Exemptions to the Skill Requirement

In some cases, it is possible to get an exemption from the usual skills assessment and work experience requirements.

The current exemptions to the skill requirement are:

  • Academics nominated by an Australian university
  • Scientists, researchers or technical specialists nominated by an Australian government scientific agency
  • NZ citizens or NZ family members - see below

The most common exemption used to be the high salary exemption - if your base salary was in excess of $180,000 you were exempt from the skills assessment and work experience requirement. However, this exemption was repealed on 1 July 2017.

Age Requirement

As of 1 July 2017, you must in general be under 45 when you apply for an ENS Direct Entry Stream visa.

The age requirement can be a significant hurdle for more experienced applicants. Only limited exemptions are available which are similar to the above exemptions for skill:

  • Senior Academics nominated by an Australian university
  • Scientists, researchers or technical specialists nominated by an Australian government scientific agency
  • NZ citizens or NZ family members - see below
  • Medical practitioners who have worked in Australia on a 457 for the last 4 years, at least 2 of which were in Regional Australia
If you are likely to be 45 or over at the date of application, you may be better to look at the ENS Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRTS). The age limit for TRTS is still 49 and this is likely to be the case until March 2018.

There is also an additional TRTS age exemption for 457 holders who have worked for their employer for the last 4 years with earnings at least equivalent to the Fair Work Australia High Income Threshold for each of these years (currently $142,000).

English Requirement

You will need to demonstrate at least Competent English to qualify for the Direct Entry Stream. This would require you to either:
  • Hold a passport from certain countries: UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or NZ; or
  • Pass an English Test
There are no exemptions to the English requirement for the Direct Entry Stream. An exemption for having at least 5 years of studies in English medium is available for the TRTS.

Evidence of your English language ability must be provided at lodgement. There may be a lead time to obtaining English test results, so bear this in mind when making your plans.

NZ Citizens and Family members

New Zealanders and their family members have advantages when applying for ENS Direct Entry. In particular, they are exempt from the usual skill and age requirements.

To be eligible for these exemptions, you must:

NZ citizens are also eligible for an exemption from English language testing - Subclass 461 holders will, however, need to complete an English test.

NZ citizens who have worked in Australia for the last 5 years may also be eligible for the NZ Citizen stream of the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa - which option is preferable may depend on your work and earnings history, as well as the duration of residence in Australia.

Likely Changes in March 2018

Significant changes are likely to be introduced from March 2018 which will affect the ENS Direct Entry Pathway.

The ones which have been announced include:

MLTSSL Occupations Only

Only occupations on the MLTSSL will be eligible for ENS. The MLTSSL includes only 207 of the current 460 occupations on the Employer Sponsored Occupations List.

Additional Fees

From March 2018, additional fees will apply to applications for permanent employer sponsored visas. The "Training Levy" for ENS will be as follows:
  • $3,000: for businesses with turnover under $10 million
  • $5,000: for larger businesses

The Future of Exemptions?

At this stage, we do not have any information on whether current exemptions will continue after March 2018. Exemptions which could be affected include exemptions for:
  • Skill Level
  • Age
  • NZ Citizens and Family Members

Conclusion

The ENS Direct Entry Stream is an attractive option for obtaining your permanent residence. You may consider applying for this before the March 2018 changes if:
  • Your occupation is not on the MLTSSL
  • You wish to avoid the new lodgement fees
  • You are relying on an exemption for age, skill level or are an NZ citizen or family member
If you would like advice on the ENS Direct Entry option, please book a consultation with one of our advisors. They will be able to explain the skills assessment requirements for your occupation, and also advise you on any applicable deadlines for your case. You will then have the information you need to choose the option most suitable to your circumstances.

The following may be required at time of application and usually take some time to arrange:

  • Skills Assessment
  • English language testing
Accordingly we would recommend you book a consultation well before March 2018 to make sure you do not miss out!

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