Employer Nomination Scheme Visa Subclass 186

In this article we detail the permanent employer nominated sponsored visa, which is the subclass 186, or the ENS visa for short. There are three streams in this pathway, but will be focusing mostly on the Direct Entry Stream.

We also outline the:

  • eligibility process
  • costs

What is the ENS Visa Subclass 186?

The ENS Visa a permanent employer sponsored visa. It requires a company to nominate you. It’s quite similar to the TSS or the subclass 482 which is a temporary visa. But the TSS is only temporary. The ENS 186 is a permanent employer sponsored visa.

You can apply for this visa anywhere in Australia. It can be from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, wherever you want, anywhere in Australia is allowed.

However, you can only get nominated for this visa in certain occupations. And there are other requirements that you need to meet.

What can you do on the ENS Visa?

As soon as you get this visa, you’re a permanent resident of Australia. So it allows you to live, work, study, pretty much do whatever you want in Australia.

You also have access to Medicare, and you can include your family members on the visa. As I said before, the Direct Entry is one of three streams and we’re going to focus mostly on the direct entry stream.

What are the Requirements?

To apply for the direct entry stream, there are certain requirements.

  • You need to be skilled and educated in an occupation which is on the medium to long term list.
  • You need to have a skill assessment for that occupation. You need to have at least three years of work experience at a relevant skill level.
  • You need to have competent English, or being a native English speaker from certain countries.

Your Skills on the Medium to Long Term List

You need to have a set of skills in an occupation which is on the medium to long term list. The medium to long term list is very different from the short term skilled occupation list. Basically the medium to long term list is a lot shorter. The government has identified these occupations, as being specifically in demand in Australia, and there’s a shortage of these occupations. If you go on the government’s website, you can see the types of occupations that are on this list, but in a summary you’ve got occupations such as engineering, trades people, a lot of health professionals and computer based professions and some others.

Whilst the short term skilled occupation list got a lot more.

Pass a Skill Assessment by an Approved Government Body

You must also pass a skill assessment, in an occupation that is on the medium to long term list. The skill assessment is where the government outsources to an organization the assessment of your skills, your work experience and your education to determine if you meet the Australian standards for that occupation.

Each occupation has a different skills assessor. If you’re on the government website page listing all the medium to long term list, you will be able to see to the right of the page, all the approved skill assessing bodies. Each skill assessing body may have different requirements for a skill assessment so it’s important that you check it thoroughly. There are many different skill assessments requirements, so read through them carefuly.

Three Years Experience

You also need to have worked in your occupation for at least three years at the relevant skill level. This doesn’t mean that you just need to have worked in your occupation for three years in total. It is that you have worked in the occupation at the “relevant” skill level. So this means that you have graduated, and you have worked for three years post qualification. In general, study or work experience while you were studying will not count.

You need to have the three full years of work experience at the relevant level.

186 Visa English Requirements 2020

The ENS visa requires you to have competent English, or being a native English speaker from specific countries. In order to prove that you have competent English, in 2020 the current requirement is that you must achieve an IELTS level 6.

What is the application process?

The permanent ENS process is very similar to the TSS visa process. However, the company is not required to become a standard business sponsor. Therefore, unlike the TSS, there’s only two steps: the company needs to nominate you and you then need to apply for the visa.

You can essentially perform the two steps at the same time: the company can nominate you, you get a receipt and then apply a few days later. The nomination does not need to be approved before you apply to the Visa lodged if you’re in Australia.

During the processing time, you get granted a bridging visa, which will allow you to live and work in Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs requires a company to nominate you to the occupation, you’re going to work in. Immigration will then decide if you, fulfill the nomination requirements. But, remember the position must be on the medium to long term list. The employer must show there is a genuine need for to hire a foreign worker. You must be paid at least the Australian market salary. That is, they don’t want you being paid less than another Australian with similar experiences or education, and they must give you a full time employment contract.

Australian Market Salary requirement

Basically you need to demonstrate that if there’s another Australian working in a similar role to you with similar experience, you’re paid the same. At the very least, it must be $53,900AUD per year, but to be honest it’s usually quite a significant amount more, depending on the occupation.

Immigration has this requirement in place to ensure that employers are not undercutting Australian employees by paying less to a foreign worker.

Labour Market Testing

Unlike the TSS visa which is the temporary employer sponsored visa, labour market testing is not needed for the ENS direct entry stream. You don’t need to advertise the position and demonstrate that you couldn’t find another Australian to fill the role, which is great. It’s not 100% necessary , but it could be a good idea to demonstrate the genuine need though advertising, but in a climate like today where there’s a lot of unemployment in certain occupations, it’s not necessarily required. The reason is because if you’re applying for the ENS visa, your occupation is already on the medium to long term list, which means the government’s already identified that it’s in short supply.

Once you’ve done the nomination the next step is the visa application. The visa application a lot easier than the nomination. Basically, you just need to show that you’ve got the experience. You’ve got to show that you’ve got a skill assessment, the three years post qualification work experience, and have competent English. Plus good health, and of character.

What are the charges for the ENS visa?

It’s a permanent visa so it’s not cheap. The visa application charge is currently $4,045. There’s another fee for the training levy which is usually around $3,000 for most companies, but can be a little more for a large company. And the nomination fee is $540.

186 Visa Processing Times in 2020

Due to the impact of Covid-19, visa processing times can vary greatly. It can be anywhere from as low as three months, up to over a year, however 90% of ENS visas are processed between 7 and 10 months.

The latest processing time statistics from the Department of Home Affairs is as per below

VisaStream75% Of Visas Processed90% Of Visas Processed
186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)Direct Entry Pathway6 months7 months
186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)Agreement PathwayProcessing times are not availableProcessing times are not available
186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)Transition Pathway6 months10 months

Bridging Visa

Please note, if you do apply within Australia, you will be granted a bridging visa. So, as long as you apply before your current Visa expires, a bridging visa will be granted, which allows you to live, work and remain in Australia while it’s processing.

Covid-19 Impact to 186 Visa Holders

Covid-19 has significantly disrupted the flow of migrant to Australia and has cause great uncertainty for many who hold valid visas but are soon to expire. 186 Visa holders may need to explore extending their visas, but in the current environment it may be difficult to do so. This does not excuse the need to ensure that you remain lawfully in Australia.

If you are seeking advice on how to extend your visa, and the impact of the corona virus has caused difficulties. Please reach out to us for an assessment and options.


I hope this information provided gives you a better overview of the employer nominated scheme visa. It is a permanent visa to Australia, which could be a great Oz Visa a lot of applicants. If you do have any questions about this Visa, feel free to contact us.