Employer Nomination Scheme Visa

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Subclass 186)

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Subclass 186)

The Employer Nomination Scheme is a permanent visa that enables Australian employers to sponsor highly skilled workers to live and work in Australia.

This visa requires an offer and acceptance of skilled employment in Australia. It is also essential that you must have all of the relevant qualifications and/or work experience to be able to fill that position.

Employers seeking to sponsor or hire foreign workers can visit our Australian Employer Services page.

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa has 3 streams:

  • Temporary Residence Transition Stream
  • Direct Entry Stream
  • Agreement Stream


  • Temporary Residence Transition Stream

    For holders of a Temporary Skills Shortage (SC482) visa who have worked for their employer for at least 3 years in the same nominated occupation, where the employer now wants to offer a permanent position.

  • Direct Entry Stream

    Generally, for applicants that have not held a 482 Visa for the last 3 years and have substantial skills and experience in the nominated position and have competent English language ability.

  • Agreement Stream

    For applicants that will be sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

The ENS Visa consists of 2 stages:

  1. For the employer to make a nomination application, the employer will need to meet (among other things):
    • Establish the need to employ an overseas worker.
    • Demonstrate a dedication to training.
    • Pay the overseas worker a salary that is in accordance with at least the market salary. The contract of employment must also be in accordance with Fair Work Australia.
    • The position must provide equivalent terms and conditions of employment to the overseas worker that would also apply to an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia who is/ may be employed by the sponsor.
  2. Applicants to be eligible for a 186 Visa, you need to meet (among other things):
    • Have been nominated by an approved Australian employer in an eligible occupation;
    • Be less than 45 years of age*;
    • Have relevant qualification and/or skills*;
    • Have sufficient English Language ability, as required (dependant of stream)*;
    • Hold registration or license, if required;
    • Be of a good character and health;
    • Any secondary applicants have to satisfy relevant secondary criterion.

* Applicants may access exemptions for the age, skills and English language criteria depending on the occupation, salary and past work experience for their particular case.

Age, Skill and English requirements and exemptions

If you are applying for a Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) or a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187), you must meet the age, skills and English language requirements specified for the stream of visa that you are applying for, unless you are exempt from these requirements. These requirements and available exemptions are summarised below.

Age requirements and exemptions

You must generally be less than 45 years of age. Exemptions are, however, available to applicants who meet
any of the below:

  • you are nominated as a senior academic by a university in Australia (Temporary Residence Transition and Direct Entry streams)
  • you are nominated as a scientist, researcher, or technical (scientific) specialist at ANZSCO skill level one or two by an Australian government scientific agency (Temporary Residence Transition and Direct Entry streams)
  • you are applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream and have been working for your nominating employer as the holder of a TSS or subclass 457 visa for the last three years and your earnings were at least equivalent to the Fair Work High Income Threshold Fair Work High Income Threshold for each year over that period
  • you are a medical practitioner (ANZSCO Minor Group 253) (Temporary Residence Transition
    stream)and you meet all of the below:

    • you have been working in your nominated occupation as the holder of a TSS or subclass 457 visa for at least three years immediately before applying
    • for two of those years, you were employed in regional Australia
    • the nominated position is located in regional Australia
  • you hold a Special Category visa (subclass 444) or New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461) and you have been working for the employer who nominated you for at least two years (excluding any periods of unpaid leave) in the last three years immediately before applying (Direct Entry stream only)
  • you are applying through the Labour Agreement stream and the relevant labour agreement allows for a person who has turned 45 to be employed.

Important: you may also be able to apply for a visa under the Temporary Residence Transition stream if you are over 45 years of age but under 50, if transitional arrangements apply because you either held, or were an applicant for, a subclass 457 visa (which was subsequently granted) on 18 April 2017.

Skill requirements and exemptions

At the time of application lodgement, you must provide with your online application:

  • evidence that you have at least three years of relevant work experience
  • a positive, valid skills assessment in your nominated occupation if you are applying for a:
    • subclass 186 visa under the Direct Entry stream in any occupation (the skill assessment must be conducted by the relevant assessing authority listed in the list of eligible skilled occupations)
    • subclass 187 visa under the Direct Entry stream in an occupation specified in a legislative instrument and you hold overseas qualifications.
      Important: a skills assessment will be required for all nominated occupations for all applications lodged on or after 1 July 2018.


  • a skills assessment is only valid until the expiry date specified on the assessment, or for a period of three years from the assessment’s date of issue, whichever occurs first
  • skills assessments obtained for a subclass 485 visa will not be accepted as these are not considered full skills assessments for permanent skilled migration purposes
  • visa applicants applying through the Temporary Residence Transition or Labour Agreement streams will generally not need to have their skills assessed. A skills assessment may, however, still be requested where this is considered to be necessary.

Direct Entry stream applicants are exempt from the requirement to apply for a positive skills assessment as outlined above, where they have applied for:

  • a subclass 186 visa and are nominated as:
    • an academic by a university in Australia or
    • a scientist, researcher, or technical specialist by an Australian government scientific agency, including State and Territory government scientific agencies
  • a subclass 186 or 187 visa and are in Australia as the holder of a subclass 444 or 461 visa and have worked with their nominating employer in their nominated occupation for the last two years (not including any period of unpaid leave) in the period of three years before the visa application is made.
English language requirement and exemption

You must demonstrate that you have the required English language proficiency for the visa and stream that you are applying for unless you are exempt.

For the Temporary Residence Transition orDirect Entry streams, applicants are required to have at least competent English.

As a result, you must provide evidence of having achieved the required minimum test scores in a specified English language test that has been conducted within three years immediately prior to the date of your application unless you hold a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland as evidence that you are a citizen of that country.

Applicants for the Temporary Residence Transition stream are also exempt from demonstrating their English language proficiency if they have completed at least five years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution where all of the tuition was delivered in English. You cannot include short courses studied for this purpose.

Applicants for the Labour Agreement Stream must demonstrate that they have English language skills that are suitable to perform the occupation to which the position relates. This will be the same level of English as for the other visa streams outlined above, unless otherwise specified in the labour agreement.

Entitlements of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Subclass 186)

Successful applicants and holders of an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Subclass 186) are granted permanent residency in Australia. This will allow you and your eligible family members to:

  • Stay in Australia indefinitely;
  • Work and study in Australia;
  • Enrol in Medicare, Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses;
  • Apply for Australian citizenship (if you are eligible);
  • Sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence;
  • Travel to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted (after that time, you will need a resident return visa or another visa to return to Australia).

We provide the support and advice you need to move forward with your ENS Visa application in Australia. Contact us via our enquire now page or speak to one of our professional migration agents located in our Queensland office on (07) 5592 0755.