186 Visa

The Subclass 186 ENS visa (Employer Nomination Scheme visa) is a permanent residency visa that requires the sponsorship of a nominating employer. In summary:

  • The 186 visa has a Transition stream,  Direct Entry Stream and 186 Agreement stream.
  • You must have an occupation on the 186 Visa Occupations List 
  • English language requirements are IELTS (or equivalent test) score of 6 in each component.
  • A maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application will apply to Direct Entry stream
    applicants. A maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply to Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants
  • A range of amendments have been introduced to enhance the integrity of the ENS and RSMS visas, including through requiring the nominated position to be genuine, and removal of the English language and skills exemption for applicants whose nominated earnings would be over $180,000.

The purpose of the subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is to allow Australian employers to fill highly skilled positions with suitably qualified migrants. The scheme is designed to assist employers who are unable to meet their skilled Australian workforce needs from the local labour market.


The business seeking to employ you must:

  • be actively and lawfully operating in Australia
  • genuinely need you to work in the nominated position under its direct control, and have the capacity to employ you in this position for at least two years

Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186)

What is a Subclass 186 Visa?

  • It is a permanent residence visa for skilled workers who have a nominating employer.
  • The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) allows Australian employers to nominate skilled foreign employees to work in Australia on a subclass 186 permanent residence visa.
  • This visa involves a two-step process; a nomination by an approved Australian employer and a visa application by the skilled overseas worker.
  • Applicants can be in or outside Australia when they apply for this visa. Applicants must have a valid visa or a bridging visa A, B, or C to apply for this visa in Australia.


The position to be filled must be:

NOTE: Certain occupations on this list will be subject to additional requirements (e.g. salary, type of business operated by employer, nature of position). Please contact us for further details based on your particular circumstances.

  • have a salary that is:
    • at least $70,000 per year (excluding any non-monetary benefits) AND
    • at least the annual market salary rate (AMSR) for your nominated occupation

NOTES: the AMSR for your nominated occupation (excluding non-monetary benefits) must also be no less than $70,000 per year.

The AMSR is the salary that an Australian earns (or would earn) for performing equivalent work on a full-time basis for a year in the same workplace at the same location.

You will be exempt from the AMSR requirement if your salary is more than $250,000 per year.

  • be subject to conditions of employment (other than earnings) that are no worse than those that apply (or would apply) to Australians performing equivalent work in the same location

Visa Applicant

As the visa applicant, you must (unless a specific exemption applies in any case):

  • have competent English:
    • hold a valid passport issued by the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland (and you are a citizen of that country) OR
    • an IELTS test score of at least 6 in EACH test component OR
    • an OET test score of at least B in EACH test component OR
    • a TOEFL iBT test score of at least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking OR
    • a PTE test score of at least 50 in EACH test component OR
    • a CAE test score of at least 169 in EACH test component

NOTES: In each case, the test must have been undertaken within the last three years.


Stage 1: Nomination Application

This application is lodged with the Department of Home Affairs (the DOHA) on behalf of your employer, and relates to the skilled position that you have been offered, which must meet the requirements referred to above. Your employer is required to supply documents to the DOHA in support of this application, the nature and extent of which will vary depending upon the particular circumstances of the business. Employers must pay a one-off Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy for EACH subclass 186 nomination lodged with the DOHA. The amount payable varies based on the employer’s annual turnover.

Note: if the nomination has already been approved by the time the visa application is made, the visa application must be made within 6 months of the nomination being approved.

Stage 2: Visa Application

Your visa application is lodged with the DOHA either at the same time as the nomination application, or within six months of the DOHA’s approval of the nomination. The main criterion is that you fulfil the above requirements, including the standard health and character checks. Once the DOHA has approved both applications, you will be granted a permanent subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa. You may be in Australia or outside Australia when your visa is granted.

Skills Assessment Application

BEFORE lodging your visa application, you must apply to have your skills (qualifications and/or work experience) formally assessed, to show that they are to the level required to undertake the nominated skilled occupation.

For each occupation listed on the MLTSSL, the DOHA has specified an assessing authority that may carry out skills assessments for that occupation. Only a skills assessment conducted by the relevant assessing authority will be accepted by the DOHA in support of a visa application.

If you have not already obtained an acceptable skills assessment for your occupation, we can apply for this assessment on your behalf. This involves determining the correct authority to carry out your assessment; providing you with a full list of the information and documents required to support your application; preparing the application; and lodging it with the relevant authority for assessment. Please note that we charge a separate professional fee for this service. An assessment fee is also payable to the skills assessing authority.

Please contact our office for further information regarding skills assessment applications.