26th April 2018
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Home | Employment Visas | Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

Who is the 186 visa for?

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 visa is a permanent residency visa suitable for overseas skilled workers who either currently live outside Australia, or who currently live and work in Australia as temporary residents. 

This visa is part of Australia’s permanent Employer Sponsored visa program. 

The ENS Subclass 186 visa includes three distinct streams:

The Temporary Residence Transition Stream – for skilled workers who have held a subclass 457 visa for two years, and have been offered a permanent position by their employer. 

The Direct Entry Stream – for skilled overseas workers who have never before worked in Australia, or who have worked here for only a short period of time.

Agreement Stream – for skilled workers who are currently sponsored by an Australian employer through either a labour agreement or a regional migration agreement.


What are the entitlements of the 186 visa?

This visa permits you along with any secondary applicants included in your application to reside in Australia as permanent residents. Holders of this visa are permitted to travel freely to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted.

Permanent residents of Australia are able to:

  • work and live in Australia permanently
  • study at Australian academic institutions such as schools, tafes or universities
  • claim healthcare which is subsidised under the Australian Medicare system and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • apply for applicable social security payments (subject to specific conditions and waiting periods)
  • apply for Australian citizenship (subject to specific conditions and residency eligibility criteria)
  • become sponsors for others wishing to obtain permanent residence in Australia

What are the requirements of 186 visa?

To be eligible for the ENS Subclass 186 visa, an applicant must:

  • have been nominated by an approved Australian employer
  • be less than 50 years of age
  • meet the English language requirement
  • meet the skills and qualification requirements.

Note that exemptions relating to age, skills and English language ability do apply to this visa subclass. An applicant’s eligibility for any such exemptions will depend upon the applicant’s nominated occupation, past work experience, and anticipated salary rate. 

For more information regarding eligibility for these exemptions, please see:


How to apply for the 186 visa?

If a potential applicant does not have an employer who will nominate them to work in Australia, they are still able to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the Australian Government SkillSelect database. 

Potential employers and Australian state/territory governments can then view the applicant’s suitability, skills and qualifications, and decide whether to sponsor the applicant for skilled migration to Australia. 

You can lodge your Expression of Interest in the ENS Subclass 186 visa via the SkillSelect database at:

If an applicant is nominated by an approved Australian employer to apply for an ENS Subclass 186 visa, they will need to lodge an online application within six months from the date their nomination was approved. 

When an applicant makes their application for an ENS Subclass 186 visa, they will need to select which of the three streams of this visa type is applicable to their current circumstances, and make their application under that particular stream. 

The specific skills, qualifications and English language requirements relevant to an application for an ENS Subclass 186 visa will depend upon which of the three steams the applicant selects for their application. 

Temporary Residence Transition Stream – Applicants under this stream will need to demonstrate they have at least vocational English skills, but do not need to have their skills and/or qualifications assessed because they have already worked for their nominating Australian employer under a 457 visa for at least two years. 

Direct Entry stream – Applicants under this steam will need to provide a positive skills assessment in their nominated occupation, demonstrate they have at least three years of relevant work experience in their nominated occupation, and show they have at least competent English language skills. 

Note that applicants must submit all skills assessments along with their online visa application.

Agreement stream – Applicants under this stream must satisfy the age, skills and English language requirements as outlined under their approved labour agreement. 

Applicants must lodge their application online through the SkillSelect database. Applications can be lodged from within or from outside Australia. All necessary supporting documents must be submitted along with the application, and a non refundable application fee of $3,060.00 AUD is payable by credit card at the time of lodgement of the application. 

What happens after applying for the 186 visa?

After an applicant has lodged an online application and submitted any necessary supporting documents, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (The Department) will inform the applicant that their application has been received and is being considered. 

The Department may at this time request the applicant to provide more information, or require that the applicant attend an interview. 

To be granted an ENS 186 visa, the applicant and all members of the applicant’s family who are included on the application will need to meet certain Health and Character requirements. 

The Department will inform the applicant when any relevant health examinations are required, and when to arrange police certificates evidencing good character. Note that police certificates will be required for every member of the applicants family who are over 16 years of age, regardless of whether the family member will be migrating along with the applicant or not. 

Subclass 186 visa decision

If an application for an ENS 186 visa is approved by the Department, the applicant will be sent an email detailing their visa grant number, their visa conditions (including a specific start date for the visa) and details of what they must do next.

If an application for an ENS 186 visa is not approved by the Department, the applicant will be sent an email detailing the reasons why the application was not approved, any rights the applicant has to appeal that decision, and the specific time frame in which an appeal must be lodged in order to be valid. 

Australian Migration Lawyer


Established in 2002, Haag Walker Lawyers has successfully assisted thousands of Australian businesses and individuals to navigate migration law requirements.
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