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Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 189) is a subclass of employer sponsored visas, which allows Australian employers to nominate skilled workers to work and stay permanently in Australia. This kind of visa is applicable to both applicants who are outside Australia and those who are living and working in Australia on a temporary visa. ENS 186 visa holders are eligible to receive all benefits for an Australian permanent residence, which includes but not limited to:  

  • Work and live in Australia indefinitely  
  • Receive support for Medicare services 
  • Study in Australia with domestic students’ tuition fee 
  • Apply for Australian citizenship if eligible  
  • Sponsor family to come to Australia (if eligible) 

Available Streams – Subclass 186 (ENS)

You can apply for an ENS 186 visa under one of the three streams 

  • The Direct Entry Stream: You can directly apply for permanent residence (PR) even if you have not worked in Australia before.  
  • The Labour Agreement Stream: It is only for those who are currently working or will be working for a sponsoring employer under a labour agreement.  
  • The Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream: It is applied for skilled workers who are holding a 457, 482 or related bridging visa, and currently in Australia. To be eligible for this stream, you must be nominated by an Australian employer and have worked for this employer for at least 3 years before the date you lodge the visa application. 

How to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visa? 

Similar to applying for other employer sponsored visas, the ENS visa application process involves actions and responsibilities of both employers and sponsored employees.  

Step 1: Check if you are eligible for a 186 visa

This visa is issued to help Australian businesses hire a skilled foreign worker where they cannot find an Australian employee to meet their job requirements. Therefore, your occupation must be on the skilled occupation list issued by the Department of Home Affairs. 

Secondly, you must check if you satisfy all general requirements of visa 186 together with the specific requirements for the visa stream that you are applying for. Once you meet all the requirements, you can start asking your employer to lodge the nomination for you.

Step 2: Your employer lodges a nomination application

Before you can apply for an ENS visa, your employer must create an account on ImmiAccount and lodge a nomination application to the Department of Home Affairs. The application requirements differ between streams, however generally your employer needs to assure that (1) his/her business is operating lawfully and actively, (2) having you working for this employer is a genuine need, (3) the salary paid to you is in accordance with at least the Australian market salary.  

The position nomination fee is $540, paid by the employer. There is only one case where your employer does not need to pay the nomination fees, which is when (1) you are applying for either the Labour Agreement or the TRT stream, and (2) your job position is located in regional Australia 

Step 3: You apply for a 186 visa

Before lodging for a 186-visa application, you must prepare all required documents ready to submit. These documents vary depending on which stream you are applying for, but they may include identity documents, skills and qualifications documents, English language certificate, health and character checks, and second applicants’ documents if any.  

Importantly, you must lodge the application no later than 6 months after your employer’s nomination is approved by the Department of Home Affairs.  

What are the 186 Visa Requirements? 

As mentioned earlier, you must meet both the general requirements for an Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa and specific requirements for the stream that you are applying for.  

The General Requirements 

You must:  

  • Have an occupation on the Medium- and Long-term Strategic Skills List 
  • Have been nominated by an approved Australian employer 
  • Received an IELTS (or equivalent English test) score of 6.0 or higher in each component 
  • Be less than 45 years old at the time of application 
  • Have a good character record and be of good health 
  • Satisfy relevant criteria for any secondary applicants. 

Requirements for ENS direct entry

You must: 

  • Obtain a valid skill assessment for your nominated occupation 
  • Have at least 3 years’ full-time work experience in your nominated occupation. Full-time experience means you must work at least 38 hours per week. *Casual employment cannot be counted.  

The cases where you do not need to obtain a skill assessment are the same as the cases where you are exempt from the age limit requirement as listed above. Interestingly, applicants who are exempt from the skill assessment are also exempt from the work experience requirement. 

Requirements for TRT stream

You must: 

  • Have worked full-time on your 457 or 482 visa for at least 3 of the 4 years prior to applying for this stream 
  • Currently hold a 457 or 482 or a Bridging visa A, B, or C 
  • Apply within 6 months of the nomination being approved 

Requirements for Labour Agreement stream

  • The most important requirement for this stream is that you must currently work or will work for your Australian employer who agrees to nominate you and is a member of a labour agreement.  
  • You must accumulate adequate skills to work for your nominating employer, however, you do not need to apply for a skill assessment unless the Department of Home Affair asks you to do so.  

You can be exempt from the age limit requirements if you

  • Are nominated by an Australian university to work as university lecturer or faculty head at Academic level B, C, D, or E 
  • Are nominated by an Australian scientific government agency to work as a scientist, researcher, or technical specialist at ANZSCO skill level 1 or 2.  
  • Are holding a New Zealand citizen’s family member (subclass 461) or Special Category (subclass 444) visa and have worked for your sponsoring employer in the nominated position for at least 2 years in the last 3 years.  

How much does it cost to apply for 186 visas? 

Payment of all charges shown below are in Australian Dollars (AUD). 

Base application charge Non-internet application charge Additional applicant (18 and over) Additional applicant (under 18) Nomination fee Skilling Australian Fund Levy
Paid By Employee Employee Employee Employee Employer Employer
Fee AUD4,640.00 N/A AUD2,320 AUD1,160 AUD540 Dependents on business’ turnover (AUD3000 – AUD5000 one-off)

How to bring family members to Australia under a visa 186? 

You are allowed to bring your family members in Australia under visa 186. You can include them in the original visa application, or you can add them later when you get visa 186. For visa purposes, your family members are defined as (1) your spouse or your de facto partner, (2) your children or/and your partner’s children and (3) the dependent children of your children/your partner’s children.  

You must demonstrate that you are in a genuine relationship with your partner. If married, you must provide your marriage certificate. If you are in a de-facto relationship, you need to prove that you and your partner are living together for at least 12 months or have registered the Civil Partnership Certificate under one of the Australian State or Territory Government. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When do I need to start working after I get a 186 visa?

If you are in Australia, you should start working for your nominating employer as soon as your visa is granted. If you are in other countries, you are required to commence your job within six months of your first arrival in Australia.  

Can I leave my job after getting an ENS 186 visa?

To apply for a 186 visa, you must be nominated by an Australian employer. However, there is no enforceable requirement that stops you leaving your employer after your visa is granted. The Department of Home Affair has no control over the circumstance that you and/or your employer changes intentions, resulting in the employment contract being terminated. Importantly, there is no condition of ENS visas saying that employees must remain working for employers until the end of contract.  

Nevertheless, you should be aware that you are required to submit the employment agreement to the Department of Home Affair when lodging your visa application. This contract must clearly state that the job position is offered to you for at least two years. The purpose of the contract is to demonstrate that you have the intention to stay with your nominating employer for a long period, and your position is genuine in the business. Therefore, the Department will retain its discretion to investigate your changing situation. If you provide misleading and incorrect information, or if you have not made a genuine effort to work for your employer, then the Department has a right to cancel or revoke your visa.  

How long is a 186 visa valid for?

The ENS 186 is a permanent visa, which means you can stay and work in Australia indefinitely. However, the travel period of visa 186 holders is only 5 years since the visa is granted. After this time, you can apply for Australian Citizenship if eligible, or you can apply for a resident return visa.  

What should I do if my passport expires when I wait for a 186 visa?

It is recommended that you should have a passport valid for at least one year before lodging the visa application. However, if your passport expires when you are waiting for the visa 186 outcome, you must get a new one and then update your new passport details with the Department of Home Affairs via ImmiAccount. If you do not inform the Department of this change, then the granted visa will be attached to the old passport details.  

What happens if my current visa expires when waiting for a 186 visa?

The processing time can take up to 6 months with Labour Agreement stream, 14 months with ENS Direct Entry, and 28 months with TRT stream. Hence it is not surprising that your current visa can expire when you wait for a 186-visa outcome. If this is the case, your Bridging Visa A will be automatically active that allows you to remain lawfully in Australia. However, you cannot travel from and to Australia with this visa. Instead, you must apply for a bridging visa B which can be simpler and faster to be granted.  

What happens if I break up with my partner while waiting for a 186-visa outcome?

When the relationship with your partner ends after visa 186 is lodged, you must inform the Department of Home Affair of this change as soon as possible. If you are the primary applicant, you are still eligible for a 186 visa, which means your visa application will be still processed. However, if you are the secondary applicant, then there is a high chance that you no longer be included in the application. In this case, you should seek further advice from registered migration agents to ascertain whether you can keep your visa procedure. At SOL Migration, our migration experts have a lot of experience dealing with complicated visa situations. Contact us today to have an expected outcome.  

What are ENS visa conditions after granted?

The general condition for ENS 186 visa holders is that they must obey all Australian laws. In case you are outside Australia at the time your visa is granted, you must enter the country before the date identified by the Department. If you are single, you should not get married prior to the first arrival in Australia. 

Can a visa ENS 186 be cancelled?

Yes. Visa 186 can be cancelled at any time if the visa holders are in breach of visa conditions or if the Department of Home Affairs discovers any misleading or incorrect information provided by you. When you are worried about your visa being cancelled, you are better remaining onshore Australia because you can maximize your opportunities for appeal rights.  

Can an ENS 186 visa holder get deported from Australia?

Yes. After your 186 visa is cancelled and all your requests sent to the Department of Home Affair are rejected, you can be deported from Australia. In some cases where individuals try to stay in Australia unlawfully, they are likely to be detained and to be forced removing from Australia, with the assistance of immigration authorities.  

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