186 visa exemptions

186 and 187 Visa (transition stream) age 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 186 visa (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 ($167,500) for each year over that period.
  • 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.

‘Legacy 457 Worker’ Age Limit Exemption for 186 Permanent Visa

As defined in the legislative instrument, a legacy 457 worker, for a subclass 186 visa application, means a person who :

  • held a Subclass 457 visa on or after 18 April 2017; and
  • was in Australia for at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021.

The age exemption relating to legacy 457 workers is intended to capture all Subclass 457 visa holders after the abolition of the Subclass 457 visa was announced on 18 April 2017. Those holding a Subclass 457 visa at the time of application for the TRT stream of the ENS visa will be eligible for the age exemption. Additionally, those who previously held a Subclass 457 visa but currently hold a TSS visa, will also be eligible for the age exemption, provided they meet the above requirements.

This exemption is available to applicants who applied for the TRT stream of the ENS visa on or after 1 July 2022 and is intended to be accessible for two years from its commencement.

This measure seeks to complement the pathway to permanent residence for short-term stream TSS visa holders and retain skilled migrants, who worked in Australia throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it is expected that individuals seeking to access this exemption would have worked on an appropriate temporary skilled work visa throughout the period of eligibility. Where this is not the case, applicants may still be eligible for the age exemption, however, DHA will consider the applicant meets all other requirements to the TRT stream of the ENS.

Skill requirements and exemptions

At the time of application lodgement, you mustprovide 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 streamin 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.


  • 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 or Direct 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 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.

187 visa English: If you are applying for the 187 RSMS Visa through the Temporary Residence Transition stream and have completed at least five years of full-time study in secondary or higher education where the medium of instruction was delivered in English. You must hold a Diploma or above to be eligible for this exemption.

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