186 Visa (ENS) – All you have to know!

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Are you planning to come to Australia to work on a permanent basis? Or are you currently on a 482 Visa, and would like to transition to permanent residency? Then the ENS 186 Visa (Employer Nomination Scheme) may be for you. But how does this visa works?
The ENS visa (subclass 186) provides a permanent opportunity for skilled workers to live and work in Australia. The employer will nominate you for the position. For this reason, it is a harder visa to get, but access to permanent residency makes it worth it.

About the 186 visa

The Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) is a Permanent Residency visa. It was created to address occupation shortages in Australia. Also, only professionals with an occupation listed in the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) can access it.

Differently than the 491 visa, 190 visa and 189 visa, the 186 visa is not a point based visa. 

What can I do on the 186 Visa?

It enables you (and all members of the family included in the request) to:

  • Stay in Australia indefinitely; 
  • Work and study in Australia (without restriction);
  • travel to and from Australia for 5 years after the visa grant; 
  • Apply for citizenship(subject to eligibility)
  • Sponsor eligible relatives for a variety of temporary and permanent Australian visas;
  • enrol in Medicare (Australia’s universal health care scheme);


The 186 visa is divided in 3 main streams. Those are:

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream (TRT)
  • The Direct Entry Stream (DE)
  • The Labour Agreement Stream

1. The Temporary Residence Transition stream

The 186 visa Temporary Residence Transition stream allows applicants who have held a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa Subclass 457 or Temporary Skill Shortage Visa 482 with the nominating employer to transition for Permanent Residence.


Being on a 482 visa or 457 visa

For a minimum of 3 of the four years, before you are nominated to the sub-class 186 visa, your company would have sponsored you to work full-time on the subclass 457 or subclass 482 visa.

Age Requirement 

If you are a TSS 482 visa holder you must be under the age of 45 years at the time of application for the ENS 186 visa. Otherwise, if you are a 457 visa holder, you must be under the age of 50 years at the time of application. 

Exemptions are available for applicants with one of the nominated occupations listed:

  • Researchers, scientists and technical specialists
  • Senior academics
  • Medical practitioners in regional Australia
  • A TSS visa holder who meets the High Income Threshold 

 Employer requirements

The same employer who supported you on a TSS 482 or 457 visa should nominate you for the position on the 186 Visa.

And, you must have worked without any other organisation or entity at any point during the three-year duration in order to meet this criteria.

Employment under a different employer

Work done for former employers cannot be counted against the three-year period if the sponsor was not the applicant’s primary sponsor and the previous employers have no ties to the new sponsor.

Nominated for the same position

The job must also be linked to the one for which they were nominated for your TSS 482 or 457 visa. When determining if an applicant has remained in the same position for the relevant time, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will look at the following factors:

  • Employer
  • Location of the position
  • Reporting lines
  • Salary
  • Position description
  • Duties performed

Work experience requirement

Before submitting the ENS submission, the TSS 482 visa must have been held for at least three years in the previous four years. Time spent working on a bridging visa while waiting for the 482 visa to be approved can be counted.

If you had a 457 visa before April 18, 2017, or applied for one before April 18, 2017, and it was issued after that date, you only have to do two years of full-time work in the previous three years, in order to qualify for the 186 visa.

If you applied for a 457 visa after April 18, 2017, you will have to meet the TSS 482 visa requirement of three years of work experience.

 Absence from work in the form of unpaid leave, paid maternity leave, and paid sick leave will all be counted when measuring work experience. The estimate does not account for unpaid time off.

Employed on a full time basis and in Australia

Full-time employment means at least 35 working hours per a week.

 Skills assessment

Although a positive skills assessment was not previously needed for the TRT stream, applicants will be required to have one at DOHA’s discretion.

English language requirement

The candidate must be able to have an English language competent level. If the candidate has completed at least 5 years of full-time studies in a secondary or higher education institution where all education was given in English, they are eligible for an exception.

Other requirements for the 186 visa include:

  • Holding all licences, registrations or memberships necessary to perform the profession (where appropriate)
  • Meets the health and character requirements

2. The Direct Entry stream 

The Direct Entry process is a much faster path to obtaining a permanent ENS 186 visa than the TRT stream because you do not need to have had a previous visa for a certain amount of years to be able to apply. This also implies that the entry conditions are a little tougher than the TRT stream. 

Requirements of the 186 ENS visa – Direct Entry

Age requirement

You must be under the age of 45 at the time of applying for the ENS 186 visa.

Eligible occupation

You must have a nominated occupation on the MTSML occupation list in order to qualify for a DE stream ENS 186 visa.

Skills assessment

You should also provide a positive skills assessment in order to qualify for the DE stream ENS 186 visa.

Three years work experience

Your work experience must be closely linked to your chosen profession and must be completed after graduation. You could have acquired the experience in Australia or elsewhere.

The three years of work experience don’t have to be consecutive, but you must have received remuneration for it. Also, it must qualify as full-time employment (at least 35 hours a week). Paid leave is included in all three years, although some differences, such as unemployment between work and unpaid leave, are excluded from the calculation.

The DHA will also look at your work history and if the tasks of your previous work were coherent with the required skill level. This means that training doesn’t count to meet the requirements.

Work experience which was not done at the relevant skill level will not count against the three years. Payslips, tax records, work reference letters, CVs, and other documents are examples of supporting evidence.

English language requirement

You must have at least a competent English language level. You may be eligible for an exception if you completed at least 5 years of full-time studies in a secondary or higher education institution where all training was in English language.

Meets health and character requirements

You, and all the people included in your application, must meet the health and character requirements.

3. The Labour Agreement stream 

The Labour Agreement stream for 186 Visa is available only under very specific circumstances. Labour Agreements are special agreements that companies can make if they are located in a certain area and are covered by a Designated Area Migration Arrangement (DAMA). DAMAs encourage these businesses to take advantage of TSS 482 visa exemptions that aren’t normally accessible.

186 Visa Estimated cost

Direct entry, labour arrangement, and temporary residency transfer all cost AU$4,045. Additional candidates who are above the age of 18 will be charged $2,025 each, and those under the age of 18 will be charged $1,010.

Documents required

There are several documents that you must collect to apply for the 186 Visa. For that reason, start as soon as possible. You may need additional documents in case you want to include family members as well. Immigration can also ask for additional proof.

To view the full list you can visit the DHA website on this link

Including family members in your 186 Visa

When applying for 186 Visa, the primary applicant (i.e. the main person making the application) can only include someone in the application if they are a ‘member of the family’. Only a member of the family unit can join the application with the primary applicant (the main person making the application). Regulations have a fairly strict description and applicants should can include in their application the following family members:

  • Their partner (defacto or married);
  • A biological child, step-child, or dependant child that:
    • has not reached the age of 18 or who has reached the age of 18 but is under the age of 23 and is still dependant on the family unit (i.e. is learning or lives at home and has never worked full-time); 
    • and that is not married or engaged.

You’ll notice that the description excludes parents, parents-in-laws, and cousins: regardless of how dependent they are on the family unit, they cannot be included.

English Requirement for Family Members

Dependent family members aged 18 and up must demonstrate that they have a Functional English level. This is determined when the application is decided (rather than before the application is filed). For that reason, English evidence for family members should be submitted after the application is filed (unlike for the primary visa application, which MUST be provided on lodgment).

To learn more about what proof family members should have to show they have functional English, click here.

Length of Stay

•• As this is a permanent visa, the 186 visa has a travel permission that expires 5 years after the visa is granted.

After that, you may apply for one of the following:

• Citizenship in Australia

• Returning Resident Visa

The 186 ENS visa can be a great option if you are planning to come to work in Australia, if you have more than 3 years of experience in your application or if you are currently on a 482 visa or 457 visa and want to transition for permanent residency. Differently than the 491 visa, 190 visa and 189 visa, this visa application is not point-based, and can easily allow you to progress to a permanent position in Australia. For that reason, make sure to consider this option if you decide to migrate to Australia, as it can be your road to permanent residency and to a life in this beautiful country!

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