The Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Sponsored Permanent Visa - GloMo

The Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Sponsored Permanent Visa

Found that elusive employee and want to hold on to them for as long as you can?

Or have you landed your dream job in Australia, with an employer you love?

Or maybe you're already on a temporary employer-sponsored visa, and wish to transition to permanent residency?

The 186 ENS Visa allows employers to sponsor visa applicants to fill roles in Australia permanently. The program is designed to address specific skills shortages, and only certain roles can be nominated from approved occupation lists.

There are three streams of eligibility for the 186 Visa:

  • Already hold a 457 or TSS Visa? You may be eligible via the Temporary Residence Transition stream (and possibly also the Direct Entry stream).
  • Don’t currently hold a 457 or TSS Visa? You may be eligible via the Direct Entry stream
  • Currently in Australia under a Labour Agreement? You may be eligible via the Labour Agreement stream.

There are a lot of moving parts to an Australian permanent visa application, and it can feel a little overwhelming. The stakes are also high: a decision to apply for or support your employee and their family to apply for permanent residence (PR) is a calculated one and not taken lightly. We want to help, so we have broken down the process below, in an effort to alleviate some of the pain.

Mapping the 186 Visa Process

The process involves two steps:

  • 1
    ​The Nomination made by the employer, which is about the sponsor and the role.
  • 2
    The ​Visa application, which is made by and is about the applicant.

What Will the 186 ENS Visa Cost?

A breakdown of costs associated with Australian visa applications, including the ENS application, can be found on our fees for employer sponsored visas page.  A couple of important points:

  • ​A fee will apply for each person being included in the application, including the main applicant.
  • All fees will be calculated and charged as soon as the application is lodged​.
  • ​If you get help from an immigration lawyer or agent there will be additional professional fees.

Immigration fees for visa applications are substantial. The ramifications of a negative outcome are enormous, so it’s really important your application is done right, the first time!

BREAKING IT DOWN: Eligibility and Requirements for the Three 186 Visa Pathways

There are three potential pathways of eligibility within the ENS Visa. Within each pathway, there are two sections to each application - the Nomination, and the visa application. Both sections can be prepared and lodged (almost) at the same time, however the Nomination must be lodged first.

The two main pathways are the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, which is for applicants who have been in Australia as the holder of a 457 or TSS visa for 2 or 3 years, and the Direct Entry Stream, for applicants who do not meet these residence requirements or who are not yet in Australia.

We provide a lot more detail on each pathway below.

PATHWAY 1: The Temporary Residence Transition Stream

This pathway is only available to applicants who already hold a 457 or TSS Visa.

Nomination Requirements for the 186 Visa

The Nomination via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream has to show it meets all of the following requirements:

  • 1
    ​​Period of employment
  • 2
    Occupation and role requirements
  • 3
    ​Offer of employment
  • 4
    ​​Market and minimum salary requirements
  • 5
    ​Evidence of operation
  • 6
    ​The role is genuine
  • 7
    The training requirement

Let’s take a closer look at each of these below.

1. Period of Employment

You have to hold either a 457 or TSS Visa (or a combination of both), and work for your sponsoring employer in your occupation, for a specified period of time before lodgment.

The date of eligibility will differ from applicant to applicant, depending on your occupation, and when your initial 457 or TSS Visa was granted.

To be eligible, you need to meet all of the following requirements for a specific period of time:

  • Holder of a 457 or TSS Visa; and
  • ​Working for your sponsoring employer (or an associated entity - more about this below); and
  • In your nominated occupation.

The relevant period of time that will apply to each applicant is broken down in the table below:

If you:​

And you are in the following occupation:

Then the relevant period is:

​​Held or had applied for a 457 Visa prior to 18 April 2017 (which was subsequently approved).

Any occupation, provided it is the same occupation as your existing 457 or TSS Visa (even if it is no longer on an approved list).

​​2 years of employment as a 457 or TSS Visa holder (or associated bridging visa), in your nominated occupation with your sponsor, within the 3 years leading up to the lodgment of the application.

​Applied for and were granted a TSS Visa in the Medium-Term stream after 18 April 2017.

​​3 years of employment as a TSS Visa holder (or associated bridging visa), in your nominated occupation with your sponsor, within the 4 years leading up to the lodgment of the application.

​Applied for and were granted a TSS Visa in the Short-Term stream after 18 April 2017.

​Unfortunately you are not eligible for permanent residence via this pathway.

A list of the documents that should be attached as evidence of the above can be found in the Temporary Residence Transition Stream permanent visa checklist.

CASE STUDY: Ronald is the holder of 4 year a 457 Visa in the occupation Marketing Specialist, granted on 12 March 2016. Marketing Specialist is now on the STSOL. On 10 October 2017 he transferred his sponsorship to his new employer, Ads R Us Pty Ltd. In March 2018 he took two weeks of unpaid leave. Ronald needs to show he has been the holder of a subclass 457 or TSS Visa, for a period of 2 out of the 3 years leading up to the lodgment of the application, working for his sponsor in his nominated occupation. Ronald will therefore be eligible to apply via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream on 24 October 2019.

2. Occupation and Role

The applicant needs to be sponsored in the same occupation on the permanent visa that you are currently working in on your 457 or TSS Visa. This occupation needs to be specified on the Nomination form.

It is important that the duties of the role correspond with those listed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) for the same occupation. You can search for official descriptions of all occupations at the ABS website here.

If the Immigration case officer perceives that the duties you have listed for the role are of a lesser skill level than the occupation you are nominating, or that they correspond to a different occupation altogether, the Nomination cannot be approved.

But what if I have been promoted? Good question. Generally, a promotion is a natural increase in responsibility, rather than a complete change of occupation. However, there can be instances where a role change means a change of occupation.

CASE STUDY: Carly is employed as a Software Engineer and was nominated by her employer in the occupation Software Engineer on her 457 Visa, which was approved on 20 April 2016. On 1 July 2017 she was promoted to the role Senior Software Engineer. Some duties were added to her role, and she became the supervisor of more junior employees. While the role is more senior, her duties remained largely unchanged. Therefore her promotion will not impact either her 457 Visa, or her time of employment towards her eligibility for PR via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

If the applicant is a 457 or TSS Visa holder, and has changed their role in any way, and employer will need to discuss the implications with them as it may impact:

  • ​Visa conditions – the applicant has an obligation to work in the role they were nominated in on their 457 or TSS Visa (and to not do so will mean they are in breach); and/or
  • ​​Eligibility for permanent residence.

CASE STUDY: Pradeep is employed as a Marketing Coordinator and was nominated by his employer in the occupation Marketing Specialist on his 457 Visa, which was approved on 20 April 2016. On 1 July 2017 he was promoted to the role Marketing Manager. He is now responsible for developing and implementing marketing campaigns, as well as being part of the business operations team. Pradeep’s new role no longer fits within the occupation Marketing Specialist, as his duties now align more closely with those of a Sales and Marketing Manager. For this reason, a new Nomination will be required to change the occupation on his 457 Visa, and he may no longer be eligible for PR via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

An applicant cannot change sponsor: to be eligible for the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the sponsor on the 457 or TSS Visa must sponsor the applicant for the permanent visa. However, the employment contract or relationship can remain with (or move to) an associated entity of the sponsor.

Company structures can be complicated, and for larger businesses there can be many operating entities within the same group of companies. A 457 or TSS Visa holder can be employed by either their sponsor, or an entity associated with their sponsor (this is defined in s50AAA of the Corporations Act).

CASE STUDY: Kristen is a 457 Visa holder sponsored by Engineering Pty Ltd, the parent company of a group of companies. Her employment contract is with Construction Pty Ltd, an entity with common Directors which is associated with Engineering Pty Ltd according to the definition in s50AAA of the Corporations Act. Kristen must be sponsored by Engineering Pty Ltd for the permanent visa, as this entity is the sponsor on her 457 Visa, however her employment contract can remain with Construction Pty Ltd.

3. The Offer of Employment

In most cases, there will be a formal employment contract in place from when the 457 or TSS was first approved (and perhaps subsequent updated contracts or salary increase letters etc).

But contracts and employment offers can vary enormously, right? Immigration has some specific requirements that must be checked off for the Nomination to be approved.

The contract or employment offer must adhere to the National Employment Standards (NES), and in particular must acknowledge superannuation and personal and annual leave entitlements.

The employment offer must be permanent. In both the Nomination and the Visa application forms, the applicant must declare an intention to offer (on the part of the employer) or take up (on the part of the visa applicant) the role for a period of at least 2 years.

Of course, circumstances can change after visa grant, and the permanent Visa is ultimately granted with no employment related conditions. However, it is important that the parties intend to commit to the minimum of 2 years, both when the application is lodged and during processing. If that commitment ceases at any stage prior to the grant of the Visa, the application cannot proceed.

We recommend employers prepare and provide a signed letter confirming their commitment, and upload this with the online application.

TOOL: We have prepared a template letter for employers to confirm the two year offer of employment. Be very careful when using a template! Before attaching to the application, ensure all content is correct and that there are no incomplete fields or information.

4. Market Salary Rate Requirement

You must show the applicant will be paid at least what an Australian employee would be paid in the same role and location. This requirement was introduced to ensure overseas visa holders in Australia are not taken advantage of, and local labour is not undercut.

But what does this mean practically? Consider how you worked out the salary for the role in the first place - i.e. how the salary for the role was ‘benchmarked’. You then need to provide evidence of this to Immigration.

When preparing your evidence, have a think about the following:

  • ​​Did you have other Australians in the role when the applicant was employed? Were the salaries of those employees used to benchmark the applicant’s salary? If so, you can provide a copy of their employment contract.
  • ​​​Did you do industry research and look and resources like SEEK adverts or external salary surveys? Copies of this information can be provided with the application. We would recommend, if you are relying on external information and data, that you provide at least 3 to 4 examples. If the adverts or data show a range, it is important the salary you are paying the applicant falls within that range (or above it). The top end of the range should not be less than TSMIT (explain).

Think to yourself - with the documents I am providing with the Nomination, is it easy for Immigration to see that an Australian would be paid the same for the same role? We recommend that you draft a submission explaining how the information and documents you are providing support your application.

If you cannot explain how you bench-marked the salary for the role, or show that an Australian would be paid the same salary for the job, the Nomination will not be approved.

5. Evidence of Operation

The nominating business needs to prove that it is operating and trading in Australia. Overseas-based businesses cannot nominate applicants for the visa.

If the business is currently an approved sponsor for 457 and TSS Visas, additional information will generally not need to be provided.

However, if the business is not currently approved as a sponsor, it will need to provide documentation to show it is trading and operating. There is no one set of documents we can show you that will meet this requirement, as businesses are so different. However, a great starting list can be found in our Temporary Residence Transition Stream permanent visa checklist.

When collecting documents, keep in mind: do these documents show the business is actively trading, and do they demonstrate that it can afford to pay the proposed nominee’s salary?

6. Genuineness - Showing the Role is 'Real'

Of course the role is real! That is why you’re applying for the Visa, right? However in recent years, Immigration has had increasing concerns about the integrity of the 186 and other employer-sponsored permanent Visas. For this reason, Immigration puts significant effort into assessing whether a role is ‘real’, and genuinely required in the business.

Think to yourself: how can I prove to Immigration we haven’t made up this role just to get the Visa?

There is no single way to prove a role is real. Some things you can think about are:

  • ​​​The nature of the business – for example, if you are running a restaurant, it is going to be difficult to prove the business needs a Graphic Designer or an Accountant. However, if you are running a restaurant group with a number of different venues, such roles may be considered reasonable. How can you demonstrate the value of the role to the business? For the Graphic Designer, this could be evidence of specific marketing campaigns. For an Accountant, it could be showing examples of the full-time role the applicant plays at both Head Office and for each venue.
  • ​​​​The size of the business - if the business is small, you will have to go to greater lengths to show why the applicant is required (and this is particularly the case if it is not immediately obvious how the occupation fits in the business, like in the examples above). You should provide an organisational chart showing reporting lines, showing what every single person in the business, including contractors, does. Do you have plans for business expansion, and is the role pivotal to this? Is the business going through a period of growth? It is important you provide evidence of these things.
  • The level of the role - if the nominated role is at a management level, is the applicant actually supervising other members of staff? They really should be, or Immigration may decide the role is more junior than has been stated on the form.
  • How important is it to keep the applicant - did you have a lot of difficulty recruiting for the role? Was it vacant for a long time before you found the applicant? Are there documented skills shortages in your industry? All of this would be important information for you to provide.

7. Training Requirement

The training requirement for both temporary and permanent employer sponsored Visas changed on 12 August 2018.

Now, instead of providing evidence the business has spent money on training Australian employees, there is a one-off payment into a training levy called the ‘Skilling Australians Fund’ (SAF). For 186 visas, this is paid upon lodgment of the Nomination application.

The SAF is calculated based on annual turnover of the business. For a breakdown of the fee and how it applies to each sponsor, go to our fees for employer sponsored visas.

The 186 Visa Application

There are common requirements for all ENS applications, and specific requirements for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

Criteria for All Applicants: Common 186 Visa Requirements

The Nomination Must Be Approved

The Visa cannot be approved until the Nomination has been approved.  If the applicant lodges the Visa application separately to the Nomination, it must be lodged within 6 months of the Nomination approval.

If the Applicant is Lodging Onshore in Australia

It is important they are aware of their visa conditions, and in particular, if their Visa is subject to a ‘no further stay’ condition such as conditions 8503, 8534 or 8535.

If the applicant’s Visa is subject to one of these conditions, they cannot apply onshore without applying for a waiver of the ‘no further stay’ condition. These types of waiver applications can be difficult and we would recommend you get some help.

English Requirement for the ENS Visa

The applicant must show they meet the English requirement at the time the application is lodged. This is really important - if they cannot show they had the right level of English at the date the application was lodged, the application cannot be approved.

The applicant must show they have Competent English. Our Competent English page has a breakdown of the evidence they can provide to show they have “competent English”.

Licensing and Registration

If the occupation requires licensing or registration in Australia (such as most nursing occupations), this needs to be provided with the application on lodgment. The application cannot be approved if evidence is not provided.

Specific Visa Requirements for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream

Skill Requirement

For the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the skill requirement is met through the period of employment on the TSS or 457 Visa prior to lodgment – i.e. simply by working for a period of 2 or 3 years. No additional evidence is required.

Age

Applicants must be aged under 45 on the date the application is made. There are, however, certain exemptions:

  • ​Applicants who held or who had applied for a 457 Visa prior to 18 April 2017 - these applicants must be aged under 50 at the time of lodgment.
  • ​​​457 or TSS Visa holders who:
  • ​​Have worked in their occupation for their sponsor for at least three years; and
  • Have annual income for each year of the three years that was at least equivalent to the ATO High Income Threshold, which, at the time of writing, is $145,000.
  • ​​Certain government employed research, scientist and technical specialist roles.
  • ​​​​Certain academic university employees.
  • ​Certain medical practitioners.

PATHWAY 2: The Direct Entry Stream

This pathway is available to applicants who do not meet the strict residence requirements of the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, or who are not yet in Australia, provided they meet the skill requirement.

Nomination Requirements for the 186 Visa

A Direct Entry Nomination must meet all of the following requirements:

  • 1
    ​​​Occupation requirements
  • 2
    ​Role requirements
  • 3
    ​Offer of employment
  • 4
    ​​​Evidence of operation
  • 5
    ​​The Sponsor must have 'direct control'
  • 6
    ​​Salary requirements
  • 7
    The ​role is genuine
  • 8
    ​The training requirement

Let’s take a closer look at each of these below.

1. Occupation Requirements

Only occupations on the Medium to Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) are eligible for the 186 visa via the Direct Entry stream. Follow these two steps:

  • 1
    Find an occupation on the MLTSSL list (this is specified in the ‘list’ column) that fits the role you are nominating.
  • 2
    Check to see if any specific requirements, which are called ‘caveats’, apply to your occupation. You can find these here. It is important you check each number in the Subclasses 186* and TSS* Instrument note(s) column and the caveat it responds to, so you can provide any additional documentation and information required.

PRO TIP: the occupation list can be updated at any time without warning, and caveats can be added or removed at any time! It is important you check this information again right before lodgment, to make sure none of the requirements have changed.

2. Role Requirements for the ENS Visa

The Nomination (and Visa) form asks you to nominate an occupation for the role. This is different to the position title, and is the way Immigration makes sure the role being sponsored is on the approved list for the visa.

It’s important you pick the right occupational classification for the role. The Immigration case officer assessing the application will compare the duties you describe (for example, in a Position Description and any advertising for the role) to those listed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). You can search for all occupations at the ABS website here.

When finding the right ANZSCO classification, it is important to remember:

  • ​​​The duties of the role need to be largely consistent with the ANZSCO duties.
  • ​​​​​HOWEVER - they should not be identical! If you have simply copied and pasted from ANZSCO with a few changes, this will raise integrity concerns.
  • ​​The application will not be approved if the duties of the role reflect an occupation that is NOT on the approved list.

CASE STUDY: Min works for Hotel Pty Ltd in their accounts team. The business is nominating her in the role of Accountant, as this is on the MLTSSL. They list the duties she is carrying out in the business, and they include keeping records, balancing accounts, preparing invoices and reconciling the business bank account. These duties are actually more consistent with the occupation Bookkeeper, which is not on the approved list for the permanent visa. Immigration may therefore not approve the nomination.

3. The Offer of Employment

In most cases, the offer of employment will be a formal employment contract. However, contracts and employment offers can vary enormously, and Immigration has some specific requirements that must be checked off for the Nomination to be approved.

The contract or employment offer must adhere to the National Employment Standards (NES), and in particular must acknowledge superannuation and personal and annual leave entitlements.

The employment offer must be permanent. In both the Nomination and the Visa application forms, there is a declaration that there is an intention to both offer (on the part of the employer) and take up (on the part of the visa applicant) the role for a period of at least 2 years.

Of course, circumstances can change after visa grant, and the permanent visa is ultimately granted with no employment related conditions. However, it is important that both parties have that intention, both when the application is lodged and during processing. If the employment relationship ceases or will not be ongoing at any stage prior to the grant of the Visa, the application cannot proceed.

Confirmation of the understanding of this two-year commitment is required outside of the declaration on the form. We recommend employers prepare and provide a signed letter confirming this, and upload this with the online application.

TOOL: We have prepared a template letter for employers to use to confirm the two year offer of employment. Be very careful when using a template! Before attaching to the application, ensure all content is correct and there are no uncompleted fields or information.

4. Evidence of Operation

You need to show the nominating business is operating and trading in Australia. There is no one set of documents we can show you that will meet this requirement, as businesses are so different. However, a great starting list can be found in our Direct Entry Permanent Visa checklist.

5. The Sponsor Must Have 'Direct Control'

This basically means the sponsor must also be the direct employer of the visa applicant. Unlike the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the visa applicant cannot be employed by an associated entity.

6. Genuineness - Showing the Role is 'Real'

As we outlined with the Temporary Residence Transition Steam requirements, in recent years, Immigration has had increasing concerns about the integrity of the 186 and other employer-sponsored permanent visas. There have been a lot of examples of jobs and even businesses being specifically created to secure a visa for an applicant, particularly in the Direct Entry pathway.

For this reason, Immigration puts a lot of effort into assessing if a role is ‘real’, and genuinely required in the business. This is particularly the case for the Direct Entry stream.

So think to yourself: how can I prove to Immigration we haven’t made up this role just to get the Visa?

There is no one way to show a role is real. Some things you can think about are:

The Nature of the Business

If, for example, you are running a restaurant, it is going to be difficult to prove the business needs a Graphic Designer or an Accountant. If, though, you are running a restaurant group with a number of different venues, these roles may be considered reasonable. It is up to you to provide documents to show the role is necessary.

How can you show the value of the role to the business? For the Graphic Designer in the example above, this could be evidence of specific marketing campaigns. For the Accountant in the example above, it could be showing the role the visa applicant plays at both Head Office and for each venue.

The Size of the Business

If the business is small, you are going to have to go to extra lengths to show why you need the visa applicant (and this is particularly the case if it is not immediately obvious how the occupation fits in the business, like in the examples above).

For example, you could provide an organisational chart showing reporting lines, showing what every single person in the business, including contractors, does, as well as any vacant positions.

Also consider: do you have plans for business expansion, and is the role pivotal to them? Is the business going through a period of growth? It is important you provide evidence of these things.

The Level of the Role

If the nominated role is at a management level, is the visa applicant actually supervising other members of staff? They really should be, or Immigration may decide the role is more junior than has been stated on the form.

How Important it is to Keep the Applicant

Did you have a lot of difficulty recruiting for the role? Was it vacant for a long time before you found the applicant? Are there documented skills shortages in your industry? All of this would be important information for you to provide.

7. Salary Requirements for the 186 Nomination

You must show the applicant will be paid:

  • At least the minimum salary of $53,900 per annum (base salary); AND
  • ​​​​​​At least what an Australian employee would be paid in the same role.

Both these requirements must be met for the Nomination to be approved.

This requirement was introduced to ensure overseas visa holders in Australia are not taken advantage of, or undercutting local workers.

Think about how you worked out the salary for the role in the first place - i.e. how the role was ‘benchmarked’. You then need to provide evidence to show this to Immigration. When preparing evidence, have a think about the following:

  • ​Has the business employed other Australians in the same role? Were those employees used to benchmark the salary? If so, you can provide a copy of their employment contract.
  • ​​​​​​​Did you do industry research and look and things like SEEK adverts or external salary surveys? Copies of this information can be provided with the application. We would recommend, if you are relying on external information and data, that you provide at least 3 to 4 examples. If the adverts or data shows a range, it is important the salary you are paying the applicant falls within that range (or above it).

Think to yourself: do the documents I am providing with the Nomination, make it easy for Immigration to see that an Australian would be paid the same for the same role? Typically, it’s a good idea write a submission (ie a letter or a note) explaining the information and documents you are providing further.

If you can’t explain how you benchmarked the salary for the role, and you can’t show that an Australian would be paid the same salary for the job, the Nomination will not be approved.

CASE STUDY: Gourmet Pty Ltd is nominating Gary in the occupation Restaurant Manager at one of their venues in Sydney. They are paying him a base salary of $60,000 per year. When deciding on what to pay Gary, they looked at what they had paid the previous Manager in the same role. The previous Manager had been paid $55,000 per year, but Gary is older and has more experience. To support their application, the business will provide a copy of the Australian employee’s contract at $55,000, a copy of an industry salary survey showing the average range for the role is $50,000 to $70,000, and a letter explaining how both of these documents were used to finalise Gary’s salary.​​​

8. Training Requirement for the 186 Nomination

The training requirement for both temporary and permanent employer-sponsored visas changed on 12 August 2018.

Now, instead of providing evidence the business has spent money on training Australian employees, there is a one-off payment into a training levy called the ‘Skilling Australians Fund’ (SAF). For the permanent visa, this is paid on the lodgment of the Nomination section of the application.

The SAF is calculated based on annual turnover of the business. You can find a breakdown of the fee and how it applies to each sponsor on our employer sponsored visa application fees page.

The 186 Visa Application

There are common requirements for all ENS applications, and specific requirements for the Direct Entry Stream.

Criteria for All Applicants: Common 186 Visa Requirements

The Nomination Must Be Approved

The Visa cannot be approved until the Nomination has been approved.  If the applicant lodges the Visa application separately to the Nomination, it must be lodged within 6 months of the Nomination approval.

If the Applicant is Lodging Onshore in Australia

It is important to check there’s nothing to stop them doing so! They should make sure they are aware of their visa conditions, and in particular, if the Visa is subject to a ‘no further stay’ condition such as conditions 8503, 8534 or 8535.


If the Visa is subject to one of these conditions, the applicant cannot apply onshore without applying for a waiver of the ‘no further stay’ condition. These types of waiver applications can be difficult and we would recommend applicants get some help.

English Requirement for the ENS Visa 

The applicant must show they meet the English requirement at the time the application is lodged. This is really important - if they cannot show they had the right level of English at the date the application was lodged, the application cannot be approved.

The applicant must show you have Competent English. Our Competent English page has a breakdown of the evidence they can provide to show they have “competent English”.

Criteria for Direct Entry Pathway Applicants for the 186 Visa

Skill Requirement

The following must be provided to show the applicant meets the skill requirement for the 186 Visa:

1. The Skills Assessment

Before applying for the visa, the visa applicant must first apply for, and be awarded, a positive skills assessment for their nominated occupation, from the relevant skills assessing authority. You can find the appropriate skills assessing authority in the Assessing Authority column of the relevant occupation list found here.

Every skills assessing authority has its own, very specific requirements. We recommend applicants visit the relevant website and go from there.

Processing times also vary significantly, and applicants should allow at least 3 months to prepare, lodge and receive the skills assessment prior to the lodgment of the visa application.

The skills assessment provided with the visa application must:

  • Be valid - some assessments are valid for a period of 12 months, however the majority are valid for three years.
  • ​​​​​​​​Be appropriate for the visa subclass - for example, you cannot use a skills assessment for a 485 visa for a 186 visa.
2. The CV or Resume

This is a really important document, as it shows the Immigration officer the applicant’s education and employment history. They should take time over formatting the document properly – a CV that is untidy or difficult to read may have a negative impact on an application.

PRO TIPS: ​For your resume:

  • Check dates. Are they consistent with the dates the applicant has entered in the form, and the dates they have in their references?
  • ​​​​​​​Include ALL the relevant information for each role, including position title, at least month and year of the start and finish dates of employment, employer name and location, and the top five duties of each role.
  • ​Relevant experience should be consistent with, but not identical to, the duties set out in the Position Description, ANZSCO and any advertising for the role.
3. Tertiary Qualifications

Provide a copy of any qualification certificates and academic transcripts (i.e. all the subjects the applicant passed as part of their course) for all relevant tertiary qualifications, if any. Applicants don’t, however, need to provide certificates for every single trade course they have ever done.

4. Evidence of Three Years of Relevant Experience

Evidence will usually take the form of written references. Keep in mind the following:

  • ​Employment experience needs to be the equivalent of three years full time (at least 35 hours per week). Part time experience can be included, however it will need to add up, pro-rata, to three years full time (i.e. applicants may need six years of part time experience to show equivalent full time experience for three years).​​​​​​
  • ​Experience, to be considered relevant, must be post-qualification i.e. if an occupation requires a degree-level qualification, applicants can’t include experience they obtained before or during completing that degree.

The structure of references is really important. Badly written references can raise integrity concerns with Immigration officers. References should not all be written by the same person and formatted the same way - this becomes very obvious to someone who reads these every day! Here is a helpful checklist:

PRO TIPS: ​For your ​references:

  • Is the reference dated?​​​​
  • ​​Does it include the full name and contact details of the person giving the reference?
  • ​Is it on letterhead?
  • ​Are the dates consistent with the dates in the CV and the form, and does it provide at least the month and year of the start and finish date?
  • ​Does it contain the position title and brief duties of the role, and are these consistent with the CV provided with the application?
  • ​Are the duties of the role consistent with the occupation you are nominating?
  • ​Does it confirm full time or part time employment?
  • ​And finally (and importantly) - is the reference signed?
Age

Applicants must be aged under 45 on the date the application is made. There are, however, limited exemptions:

  • ​Certain government employed research, scientist and technical specialist roles.
  • Certain academic university employees.
  • Subclass 444 (for New Zealand residents) and subclass 461 (partners of New Zealand residents) holders who meet the period of employment requirement.
Licensing and Registration

If the occupation requires licensing or registration in Australia (such as most nursing occupations), this needs to be provided with the application on lodgment. The application cannot be approved if evidence is not provided.

PATHWAY 3: The Labour Agreement Stream

Some industries or employers can negotiate a special agreement with Immigration to bring employees to Australia on a temporary or permanent basis. Each agreement is very specific, and can have any number of variations to the standard requirements.

If an applicant is in Australia via a labour agreement, they should speak first to their employer about permanent residence.

The Health Requirement for the 186 Visa

All immediate family members, including family members not coming to Australia or applying for a visa (i.e. any children or partners who are not migrating) must show they meet the health requirement for the grant of the Visa. More information regarding this can be found on our health requirement for the 186 Visa page.

The Character Requirement for the 186 Visa

Every person included in the application aged 16 and over must show they meet the character requirement. More information regarding this can be found on our character requirement page.

How Does An Applicant Include Family Members in an ENS Visa Application? 

The primary applicant (i.e. the main person making the application) can only include someone in the application if they are a ‘member of the family unit’. While modern families can be a combination of many different people, there is a pretty strict definition in the Regulations. Basically, applicants can only include:

  • ​​Their spouse (defacto or married).
  • ​A biological child, step-child or dependant child, provided they:
  • ​​​They have not turned 18; OR
  • ​​Have turned 18 but are less than 23 and are still dependant on the family unit (i.e. are studying or living at home and have never worked full-time); OR
  • ​Are not married or engaged to be married.

You will note the definition doesn’t include parents, parents-in-law or cousins: regardless of how dependent they are on the family unit, they cannot be included.

English Requirement for Family Members

Dependent family members who are 18 and over must show they have Functional English. This is assessed at the time of decision (rather than upon lodging the application), so English evidence for family members can be provided after lodgment (unlike for the primary visa application, which MUST be provided on lodgment).

Click here to read more about what evidence family members can provide to prove they have Functional English.

Okay, I Want To Apply: What’s the 186 Visa Application Process?

  • 1
    ​​​​The first thing to do is register for an individual ImmiAccount. This is the online ‘dashboard’ that allows you to start and lodge ​the visa application.
  • 2
    ​​Once you have created your account, you can login.
  • 3
    ​​Start your online application. At the top of the page you will see ‘New Application’ – click here.
  • 4
    ​​​​You will then get a menu of visa application options – you need to select ‘Skilled Migration’.
  • 5
    ​​​You need to prepare the Nomination form first, so select ‘Employer Nomination for Permanent Appointment’.
  • 6
    ​​​The form will begin, and you will need to complete each page as you go (the form will not let you skip a page).
  • 7
    ​You can save and exit the form at any time, and then log back in to continue.
  • 8
    ​​Once you have completed the Nomination form, you can prepare the Visa application. ​The applicant needs to follow the steps above again, only this time select ‘Permanent Employer Sponsored or Nominated Visa’.
  • 9
    ​The visa application is lengthy – ​the applicant is going to need to leave yourself a good few hours to complete it properly.
  • 10
    ​Do not lodge ​the application or proceed to the payment page until you are sure your application is complete and ready to submit!

Lodging the Nomination and Visa Application

The Nomination section must be lodged first. Once the form is completed, the online system will ask you to attach all relevant documents to your application. A couple of points on this:

  • ​​​The options for the form types on the attachment page can be a bit confusing. If you’re not sure how to categorise a document, don’t stress about it too much. There is an ‘Other’ option you can use, and just put a clear descriptor in the free-type field before you attach.
  • ​​Ideally attach documents in PDF or JPEG format, so there are no issues with formatting when they are opened by Immigration. You can, however, attach Word and Excel documents if you need to.
  • ​There is a strict 5MB size limit for documents, and you can attach a maximum of 60 documents to the application (which may seem like a like, but keep an eye on it!).
  • ​Try to make it as easy as you can for the Immigration officer – if you have three BAS statements, and you can group and label them together (i.e. ‘BAS statements Sept 17 to June 18) then do so.

Once you attach the documents to the Nomination application, you will be pushed through to a payment page. The system will calculate the fee for the Nomination (including the Skilling Australians Fund and credit card fee) for you. Enter your credit card details and hit submit.

The Nomination is now lodged!

It is only when the Visa section of the application is lodged that the whole application has been lodged. This is really important if you are onshore in Australia on lodgment, as it is only when the Visa is lodged that the Bridging Visa is granted to allow the applicant to remain in Australia while the application is being processed.

The Visa application needs to be lodged next, using the same process outlined above.

Click here for a checklist of documents to be attached to the Visa application.

Wherever possible, applications should be lodged complete and ready for a decision. This can have a positive impact on processing times. If Immigration has to request further information this typically delays processing. Also bear in mind, Immigration has the right to make a decision on an application without requesting any further information at all – and if you haven’t provided everything, that decision is not going to be favourable!

Of course, sometimes you have to lodge to a deadline without all documents, for instance when a visa is expiring. It is important in these cases to attach the documents to the lodged application as soon as you possibly can. If something is not attached for any reason, upload a note to Immigration explaining why, and when they can expect to receive it.

What About Bridging Visas?

When are in Australia on a substantive visa (i.e. not a Bridging Visa) and an application is lodged, applicants will generally automatically be granted a Bridging Visa A. This visa allows them to remain in Australia while a decision is made on their application, regardless of how long it takes. The Bridging Visa does not come ‘into effect’ until the substantive visa expires.

When an applicant lodges their application they should receive a Bridging Visa grant via email. If they do not receive this email within 24 hours of lodgment, they should contact Immigration to ensure there are no issues.

If applicants want to travel while their application is processed, and the Bridging Visa A is in effect, they will first need to apply for a Bridging Visa B. This is really important! If they don’t do this it can create big problems with re-entry to Australia.

A Bridging Visa B application can be made pretty easily via ImmiAccount. There is a small fee and a form to complete, and applicants should allow at least 2 weeks for the application to be processed.

I've Lodged the Application: What's Next?

You should be able to see in your ImmiAccount that the application has been lodged, and you will be able to download a receipt.

When you lodge your application you should get an email with a formal acknowledgement letter. If you don’t get that email within 24 hours of the application being lodged, we recommend you contact Immigration to ensure there are no issues.

Processing times for the 186 Visa have increased substantially over the last 12 months. Processing times can be found on our processing times for visas page.

Keep an eye on documents expiring! With current processing times, you need to keep in mind that things like police checks and health checks can expire. You can upload updated documents at any time while the application is being processed.

The same goes for financial and business documents. If:

  • ​​​​You have new and updated financial documents.
  • ​​​Anything changes to the business that will help the application (i.e. new contracts won, evidence of business expansion, information about specific projects worked on by the visa applicant).

Basically, the application process doesn’t end just because the application is lodged. Think about the lodgment period as an opportunity to keep showing Immigration (within reason) why they should approve the application!

Immigration Wants More Information! How to Deal With Requests for Further Information

Sometimes, even if you lodge with every possible document you can think of, Immigration requests more information. If there is a request, it is important you read it carefully and provide every document that is available.

If you have been asked for something that has already been provided (which happens from time to time), re-upload it with a note explaining why you have done so. If you cannot provide something that is requested, again upload a note explaining why.

If you do not understand the request you can contact Immigration via return email to ask to speak to someone or get them to clarify further. Communication with Immigration can be challenging, but it is certainly worth trying if you are confused.

Visa Granted!  Hooray!  What Now?

You will receive a formal notification of the Visa grant via email to the email put in the visa application form.

You should read the Visa grant carefully. If you notice anything that isn’t correct (like a date of birth or passport number), you should contact Immigration to ensure the details they have on file for the applicant are accurate. Applicants don’t want any issues at the airport when you next travel!

These days everything is electronic, and there are no visas evidenced into passports. Instead, you can check the Visa details on the Immigration Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system.

The 186 Visa is generally granted with no conditions.

The Resident Return Visa and Citizenship

When the 186 Visa is granted, visa holders will be permitted to remain in Australia indefinitely.

However, visa holders will only have a five year travel facility, permitting them to depart and re-enter Australia any number of times between when the 186 Visa is granted, and the end of the five years. If visa holders want to travel offshore after the end of the five year period, and they have not been granted citizenship, they will require a Resident Return Visa (RRV).

What if the Applicant is Offshore When the ENS Visa is Approved?

If an applicant is outside of Australia when the Visa is granted, there will be an ‘enter before’ date on the Visa grant letter. This date is generally calculated based on when the applicant completed their health checks, so it can vary significantly in length. The visa holder must enter Australia before this date, to ‘take up’ the permanent Visa.

If they do not think they will be able to re-enter Australia by the date they have been given, it is very important for them to contact Immigration to request a different ‘enter by’ date.

What Do We Do If the 186 Application Is Refused?

This is the worst-case scenario, right? You may feel confused and upset, but there are some important things you can, and should, do.

First, you may have a right of review. Details of this will be provided in the decision letter emailed to you by the Department. It is important you understand your right of review, and timeframes are really important. You will generally be given a period of 21 days to lodge a review application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), but this can vary.

Read the letter very carefully and ask for help if you are not sure.

Depending on the applicant’s visa status, they may be able to submit a new 186 application, however this is an expensive option - and with current processing times not necessarily a fast one.

AND YOU'RE DONE!

Congratulations! You have made it to the end of the process. We hope this information has been helpful to you, and of course would be happy to help with any additional queries you have.

You can find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) associated with the 186 Visa here.