186 Visa Agreement stream

The Subclass 186 ENS visa Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) Direct Entry stream lets skilled workers, who are nominated by an employer, live and work in Australia permanently.

Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme Visa: Agreement Stream

The purpose of the 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 requirements for the Agreement stream of this visa are set out below:



The business seeking to employ you must:

·        still be actively and lawfully operating in Australia

·        be party to a Labour Agreement in effect with the Commonwealth of 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

·        be compliant with Australian immigration and workplace relations law


The position to be filled must:

·        be full-time and available for at least 2 years from the time your visa is granted

·        be an occupation included on your current employer’s Labour Agreement

·        have a salary that is:

o   at least $53,900 per year (excluding any non-monetary benefits), unless a concession is provided in the Labour Agreement AND

o   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 $53,900 per year unless a concession applies.

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:

·        generally have held one of the following visas, issued under your employer’s Labour Agreement, to work on a full-time basis in the nominated position (or a very closely related position) for your employer in Australia for the length of time stated in the Labour Agreement:

o   subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa OR

o   subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa

Note: Specific visa and applicant requirements may be stated in the Labour Agreement.

·         be genuinely performing the tasks of your nominated occupation and have worked in the occupation for at least 3 years

·         have competent English (unless a concession applies) i.e.

o   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

o   an IELTS test score of at least 6 in EACH test component OR

o   an OET test score of at least B in EACH test component OR

o   a TOEFL iBT test score of at least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking OR

o   a PTE test score of at least 50 in EACH test component OR

o   a CAE (C1 Advanced) test score of at least 169 in EACH test component

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

·        be under 45 years of age (unless a concession applies)

·        meet any mandatory licensing, registration or professional membership requirements

·        satisfy the relevant health and character criteria


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 circumstances of the business.

Skilling Australians Fund Levy

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:

·         For employers with an annual turnover of LESS THAN AU$10 million, the SAF levy is AU$3,000 per nomination.

·         For employers with an annual turnover of AT LEAST AU$10 million, the SAF levy is AU$5,000 per nomination.

The SAF levy must be paid upfront, at the time that the nomination is lodged.

Please contact our office for further information regarding the SAF levy.

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 visa. You may be in Australia or outside Australia when your visa is granted.

By the end of 2023, the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme SC 186 will be amended.

All Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) SC 482 visa holders will be eligible for ENS visas sponsored by their employers.

Applicants will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visa(s).

Sponsored visa holders will be eligible for ENS TRT after two years (down from three years) of sponsorship on a TSS by their employer.

Applicants will need to meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme visa.

The limit on Short Term stream TSS visa applications that can be made onshore has also been removed in the interim.

From 1 July 2022, eligible 457 and TSS – short term stream visa holders will be able to apply through the TRT stream. The pathway will be accessible for two years from its commencement on 1 July 2022, see eligibility for details

Book a meeting today for a commitment free briefing with our Registered Migration Agents in Melbourne to find more about your visa options.