The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) allows Australian employers to nominate international workers for permanent skilled positions in their business, that they themselves cannot fill because of Australian labour shortages.

With three streams to choose from, the ENS meets all applicant circumstances. Whichever stream applicants apply under, a two-step process is involved – nomination by an approved Australian employer and a visa application under the nomination stream.


The three streams in which an applicant can apply for include; the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the Direct Entry stream, and the Agreement stream. Please see below for further details of each of these pathways

Temporary Residence Transition Stream

The Temporary Residence Transition stream is designed for holders of a 457 visa, who wish to transition into permanent residency, provided their nominating employer wants to offer them a permanent position.

Direct Entry Stream

The second stream, the Direct Entry stream, is ideal for applicants who have been nominated by their employer under this stream, and have never (or briefly) worked in Australia, or are temporary residents who are not eligible for the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Agreement Stream

If applicants are sponsored by an employer through a negotiated formal labour agreement, the Agreement stream is a direct pathway to permanent residency.


To apply for any of the streams of the 186 visa, you must meet the following common criteria:

  • Within the six months prior to your application date, be nominated by an approved Australian employer
  • At the time of your application, you must demonstrate that you have the required skills and qualifications for your nominated position
  • Hold any mandatory registration, license or professional membership, and be fully assessed as a suitable applicant by the relevant body
  • Have a competent level of English language skills unless you are exempt;
  • Meet health and character requirements

Depending on which pathway you qualify for you will need to demonstrate that you meet additional eligibility requirements.

In regards to the Temporary Residence Transition stream, applicants must be; under the age of 50 (unless you exempt), hold a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457), have worked in the same occupation for at least two out of the three years whilst on a 457 visa. Please note that if you are eligible for a 186 visa under this stream, it is not necessary for you to have your skills reassessed because you have already worked in Australia for your nominating employer for two years.

Applicants applying for a ENS through the Direct Entry pathway must be; under the age of 45 (unless you exempt), have at least three years relevant work experience, and have a positive skills assessment in your nominated eligible occupation. It is also necessary for you to satisfy one of the following additional eligibility criteria:

  • Have been nominated by a position under this stream;
  • Have never, or briefly, worked in Australia;
  • Hold a 457 visa but are found to be ineligible for the Temporary; Residence stream; or
  • Apply directly from outside of Australia.

If applying under the Agreement stream, your employer must sponsor you through a labour agreement.

186 Visa Checklist


Once received, the Department of Immigration will then commence processing your application.

Temporary Residence Transition Pathway

The average global processing time is 75% of applications in 8 months.

Direct Entry Pathways 

The average global processing time is currently 75% of applications processed in 8 months.


The ENS will grant you permanent residence in Australia. It will allow you and your eligible family members:

  • The right to stay in Australia indefinitely.
  • Work and study rights in Australia.
  • The opportunity to enrol in Medicare – Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses.
  • Apply for Australian citizenship once you become eligible.
  • Sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence.
  • Travel to and from Australia for up to five years. 

186 Visa FAQs

Who can nominate a skilled worker?

If you are nominating a skilled worker, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Actively and lawfully operate a business in Australia
  • Have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position
  • Offer a skilled position in the applicant’s field that is full-time and ongoing for at least two years
  • Pay a market salary rate
  • Comply with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws
  • There is no adverse information known about your business or any person associated with your business.

If you do not have an employer who will nominate you, you can also submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect. This will then allow prospective employers and State and Territory governments to view your details and then decide if they want to nominate you.

Can I include my family members on my application?

The ENS allows you to add your partner and your children, stepchildren, or your partner’s children or stepchildren, to your visa application. You will need to provide evidence of their relationship to you in your application and they must meet the relevant health and character requirements.

Where do I have to be when I apply for my visa?

You can either be in or outside of Australia when you apply for a 186 visa. If you are in Australia however, you must hold a substantive or bridging visa.

Are there any circumstances where the Department will waiver the age condition?

There are circumstances where the Department will allow applicants over the age threshold to apply for this visa. These include if you:

  • are nominated as a senior academic (University Lecturer or Faculty Head) by a university in Australia
  • are nominated as a scientist, researcher or technical (scientific) specialist at ANZSCO skill level one or two by an Australian government scientific agency
  • are applying through the Direct Entry stream and you hold a Subclass 444 (New Zealand citizen) or Subclass 461 (New Zealand citizen’s family member) visa and you have been working for the employer who nominated you for at least two years in the last three years immediately before making the application
  • are applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream, and you have been working for your nominating employer as the holder of a Subclass 457 visa for at least four years immediately before applying, and that employer paid you at least as much as the Fair Work High Income Threshold in each of the four years
  • are applying through the Agreement stream and the relevant labour agreement allows for a person who has turned 50 to be employed.

 Are there any circumstances where the Department will waiver the English language condition?

There are circumstances where you will not have to show that you have formal English language skills. These include:

  • If you hold a passport from New Zealand, USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland
  • You are applying through the Transition stream and have completed at least five years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution, and all of the tuition was delivered in English.

If you are interested in more information please get in touch with our Migration partners at Results Migration