The Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) is for skilled workers who want to work in Australia. This visa involves a two-step process, firstly, nomination by an approved Australian employer and then visa application under the nominated stream.

This visa is a permanent residence visa. The visa applicant can be in or outside Australia when the application is made. The visa application can only be made post nomination application and if the nomination has been approved, the visa application should be lodged within six months of the nomination being approved. For the visa application to be granted, the applicant must apply for the visa in the stream and occupation in line with the employer nomination.

Who can nominate a skilled worker for this visa?

Employer can nominate a skilled worker for this visa if:

  • they actively and lawfully operate a business in Australia
  • they have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position
  • they offer a skilled position in the applicant’s field that is full time and ongoing for at least two years
  • they pay a market salary rate
  • they comply with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws
  • there is no adverse information known about the business or any person associated with the business.

Employer must nominate the applicant in one of the three streams and meet the requirements of that stream.

  1. Temporary residence transition stream

This stream is for employers who have already sponsored the applicant for a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457):

  • The employee must have worked in the nominated position in the business, on a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa as a primary visa holder, for at least two years before the nomination is made.
  • The nomination must identify an occupation (for the position) that is listed on the Combined List of Eligible Skilled Occupations and has the same four-digit occupation unit group code as the occupation being carried out by the employee.
  • The nominated position must be full time, ongoing and available for at least two years and be consistent with the position in which the applicant has already worked in the business, unless exempted (may be applicable to certain medical occupations).
  • The employer must have met the subclass 457 visa training requirements in each year it has been a standard business sponsor.

Training requirements

The employer must meet the following training requirements:

  • If the business has been trading in Australia for more than 12 months, the business must show that it has contributed to the training of Australians. It must meet one of two benchmarks:
    • Training Benchmark A: recent expenditure equal to at least 2 per cent of the payroll of the business in payments allocated to an industry training fund that operates in the same industry as the business and a commitment to maintain that level of expenditure for the term of approval as a sponsor
    • Training Benchmark B: recent expenditure equal to at least 1 per cent of the payroll of the business, in the provision of training to employees of the business. The expenditure must be an expenditure that can count towards the benchmark.
  • If business has been operating for less than 12 months, you must demonstrate that you have an auditable plan to meet this training benchmark.

  1. Direct entry stream

This stream is for employers who want to nominate an applicant to fill a position that is:

  1. Agreement stream

This stream enables an employer to nominate an applicant through a labour agreement that has been negotiated with the government before the lodgement of the nomination.

Market salary rate

The employer must provide terms and conditions of employment that are no less favourable than those that would apply to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident doing equivalent work in the same workplace.

Terms and conditions include the nominated position’s salary, hours of work and leave entitlements (among other things). The salary paid to an Australian worker under these terms and conditions of employment is known as the market salary rate.

The employer must prove that it will pay its skilled worker the market salary rate. Depending on whether the employer has an Australian doing similar work, the employer can do this by:

  • reporting the terms and conditions that apply to an Australian worker who is already employed in a similar job in a similar location in the workplace
  • referring to an industrial award or enterprise agreement that outlines terms and conditions for Australians performing similar work in similar locations
  • providing relevant data from reputable remuneration surveys
  • providing evidence of the salaries of employees performing equivalent work in similar locations.

Visa application: who could get this visa

The applicant might be able to get this visa if s/he:

  • has been nominated by an approved Australian employer. If the nomination has been granted, the visa application must be made within the six months from the date of nomination approval.
  • is under the age of 50 at the time of application, unless exempted
  • has the required skills and qualifications for the position
  • has appropriate English language skills at the time of application lodgement, unless exempted
  • meets the health and character requirements
  • meets the requirements of the stream in which the application has been made.

This visa has three streams:

  1. Temporary residence transition stream

The employee might be able to get this visa under the Temporary Residence Transition stream if the employee:

  • holds a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
  • has at least vocational English (unless exempt from this requirement)
  • has worked for two years in the same position with the same employer, while holding subclass 457 visa as the primary visa holder, and the employer has an approved nomination for the employee for a permanent position under this stream.

The visa applicant’s skills do not need to be assessed because s/he has already worked for the nominating employer for two years in Australia.

  1. Direct entry stream

The visa applicant might be able to get this visa under the Direct Entry stream if one of the following applies:

  • have been nominated for a position under this stream and that nomination has been approved
  • have never, or only briefly, worked in Australia
  • hold a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) but do not qualify for the Temporary Residence Transition stream
  • are applying directly from outside Australia.

At time of application lodgement, the applicant must provide evidence of meeting the following requirements:

  • have at least competent English (unless exempted from this requirement)
  • have at least three years of relevant work experience
  • have a positive valid skills assessment in the nominated occupation (the skill assessment must be conducted by the relevant assessing authority listed in the Combined List of Eligible Skilled Occupations.

  1. Agreement stream

The visa applicant might be able to get this visa under the Agreement stream if sponsored by an employer through a labour agreement which requires an agreement to be in place for the particular industry or occupation.

The visa applicant must meet the age, skills and English language requirements stated in the agreement.

English language requirements

The visa applicant can show that s/he possesses adequate English skills by providing the following evidence at the time of application:

  • achieving the vocational or competent test scores in a specified English language test, for the Temporary Residence Transition stream or the Direct Entry stream respectively, that has been conducted within three years prior to the date of application lodgement
  • holding a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland and evidence of citizenship of that country.
  • Minimum score for English Language proficiency level across the various type of test

English Language Proficiency Level Test Component IELTS TOEFL iBT PTE Academic Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)* OET
Vocational All Modules 5.0 each 4 each in Listening and Reading; 14 each in Writing and Speaking 36 each 154 each B each
Competent All Modules 6.0 each Minimum score in each band as follows: Listening-12, Reading – 13, Writing – 21 and Speaking -18 50 each 169 each B each


Note: *From 1 January 2015 and only for a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test taken on or after 1 January 2015.

Health and character requirements

The visa applicant must meet certain health requirements. The results of health examinations are generally valid for 12 months.

The visa applicant must meet certain character requirements and provide a police certificate from each country s/he has lived in for 12 months or more during the past 10 years after s/he turned 16 years of age.

Health and character requirements applies to the main applicant and all the dependent family members listed in the application, whether they are migrating or not.

Including family in your application

The main applicant can include the following people in the visa application at the time of lodgement:

  • partner
  • dependent children

These family members must meet the requirements for including family members in the application. The application must include documentary evidence of their relationship to the main applicant and they must be able to show that they meet health character requirements.

What this visa lets you do

This is a permanent residence visa. It lets the visa holder and any family members who have also been granted this visa to:

  • stay in Australia indefinitely
  • work and study in Australia
  • enrol in Medicare, Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses
  • apply for Australian citizenship (if eligible)
  • sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence
  • travel to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted.