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The Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa (ENS visa) allows skilled workers who have a nominating employer to live and work in Australia permanently. This visa also allows you to apply for Australian citizenship and sponsor eligible family members for various temporary and permanent Australian visas.

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

  1. direct entry stream;
  2. temporary residence transition (TRT) stream; and
  3. labour agreement stream.

This article will discuss the: 

  • key eligibility requirements of each stream under the ENS visa; and 
  • application process for this visa.

General Requirements

The ENS visa has general requirements for all applicants, namely that you must:

  • have an approved Australian employer nominate you;
  • have a nomination that has been approved within six months;
  • be under 45 years of age (unless exempt);
  • have the relevant English language skills; and
  • meet the character and health requirements.

Depending on the state or territory you plan to work in, you must hold any mandatory licence, registration or professional membership that is necessary for your occupation.

Direct Entry Stream

The Direct Entry stream may be available to you if your employer has a genuine need for a skilled worker in a permanent and ongoing position for at least two years. You may also apply under this stream if you do not qualify for the TRT stream.

For example, if you have never or have only briefly worked in Australia, you may apply under this stream. 

The key criteria for this stream are that you must:

  1. have an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL);
  2. obtain a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation (unless exempt); and
  3. have at least three years of full-time work experience in your nominated occupation (unless exempt).

Your skills assessment must not be more than three years old and must be issued by the relevant skills assessing authority. You can find the relevant skills assessing authority for your occupation at the Department of Home Affairs.

To demonstrate that you have the relevant work experience, you will need to provide supporting documentation such as a:

  • curriculum vitae;
  • resume; or 
  • employment reference.

TRT Stream

The TRT stream allows applicants to apply for permanent residence if they hold a specific visa. The specific visas that applicants must hold are a:

  • subclass 457 visa (excluding those granted under the Labour Agreement stream);
  • subclass 482 (TSS) visa granted for an occupation on the MLTSSL; or
  • Bridging visa A, B or C (i.e. the one you were granted after your subclass 457 or TSS visa expired).

There are two groups of applicants who may apply through the TRT stream.

On or before 18 April 2017

If you held (or have applied for and were later granted) a subclass 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017, you can apply for the ENS visa once you have worked with the same sponsor in the same occupation for a minimum of two years. Applicants in this group must be under 50 years of age when they apply.

After 18 April 2017

If you held or applied for a subclass 457 or TSS visa after 18 April 2017, you must have worked with your sponsor full-time for at least three years before applying for the ENS visa. The MLTSSL must list your nominated occupation.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) may also request you to complete a skills assessment to demonstrate that you have the required skills and qualifications for the nominated occupation.

Labour Agreement Stream

The Labour Agreement stream is for employees nominated by an employer, who have a Labour Agreement with the Australian Government. This labour agreement lets you live and work in Australia for a temporary time. If you are in Australia, you must hold a substantive 457 or TSS visa issued under a labour agreement to be eligible for this stream.

The labour agreement will typically outline the:

  • experience;
  • skills;
  • English language skills; and
  • other attributes required for the nominated position.

ENS Application Process

There are two stages when applying for the ENS visa:

  1. nomination; and
  2. visa application.

On behalf of your nominating employer, you must lodge the nomination application with the DHA as it relates to the skilled position that you have been offered. The DHA requires your employer to provide supporting documents to demonstrate that they are eligible to nominate you.

Your visa application is lodged with the DHA at the same time as the nomination application, or within six months of the DHA’s approval of the nomination. You must fulfil the general requirements of the ENS visa and the specific requirements of the relevant stream.

If the DHA approves both applications, you will be granted permanent residency through the ENS visa. You may be in or outside Australia when your visa is granted.

Key Takeaways

The ENS visa offers Australian permanent residency for skilled workers who have a nominating employer. There are three possible pathways to permanent residency through the ENS visa, namely the:

  1. direct entry stream;
  2. TRT stream; and
  3. labour agreement stream.

To be eligible for the ENS visa, you must meet the general and specific requirements of the stream under which you are applying. If you have any questions about the ENS visa, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


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