Skip to main content
Employer SponsoredENS Visas

A brief guide to the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) (ENS) visa

By 19 April, 2021July 18th, 202414 Comments7 min read

employer nomination schemeThe Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) (ENS) visa allows businesses to sponsor foreign workers on permanent visas. Nominated workers can already be living and working in Australia as temporary residents or living and working outside Australia. Very broadly speaking, a successful ENS application requires a nomination and a visa application. For further information about this program, please refer to our dedicated page here

What are the eligibility requirements for an ENS nomination?

The general requirements for a valid nomination application are  as follows:

  1. the business must be actively and lawfully operating in Australia
  2. there must be a genuine need for the visa applicant in the nominated position under its direct control
  3. the business must have the capacity to employ the individual in that position for 2 years
  4. the position must be full time and available for at least 2 years from the time the visa is granted
  5. the position must have a salary that is at least (a) $73,150 per annum and (b) at least the annual market salary rate for the nominated occupation
  6. the position must be subject to conditions of employment that are no worse than those that apply (or would apply) to Australians performing equivalent work in the same location

What are the eligibility requirements for an ENS visa?

There are three streams for the ENS visa: 

  • Temporary Residence Transition (TRT)
  • Labour Agreement and 
  • Direct Entry (DE). 

Each stream has different criteria, so it is important to apply correctly to improve your chances of approval.

Temporary Residence Transition

The general requirements for this stream are as follows:

  1. must have held a 457 visa or a 482 visa to work on a full-time basis in the nominated position (or a very closely related position) for the nominating employer in Australia for at least 2 years during the last 3 years
  2. be genuinely performing the tasks of the nominated position
  3. have competent English (see here)
  4. be under 45 years of age (unless exempt)
  5. meet any mandatory licensing, registration or professional membership requirements
  6. satisfy the relevant health and character criteria

Note that TRT stream applies to two cohorts of applicants, with individuals who applied for or previously held a 457 visa before 18 April 2017 being considered under the “transitional provisions”. Broadly speaking, if this describes you and your visa was subsequently granted, you can apply under the program using a number of exemptions (including that you only need to have worked with your sponsor for at least two years and you may be eligible for permanent residence for an occupation not on the STSOL)

Individuals who applied for a 457 or 482 visa after 18 April 2017 must have an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and must must have worked with their sponsor for at least three years.

Direct Entry

DE applicants must have an occupation currently listed on the MLTSSL. Instead of demonstrating that they have worked with their employer for at least 3 years, they can instead:

  1. have their skills assessed as suitable for the occupation by the relevant skills assessing authority
  2. have at least 3 years of post qualification experience in the relevant occupation
  3. have competent English (see here)
  4. be under 45 years of age
  5. meet any mandatory licensing, registration or professional membership requirements
  6. satisfy the relevant health and character criteria

Labour Agreement Stream

The Labour Agreement stream is for applicants who currently work, or will work for an employer who is a party to a labour agreement and sponsored by an employer through a work contract. Given this is directly negotiated within your industry with the Department, please contact your Hannan Tew representative for further information.

Can I include family members?

ENS visas may also include your immediate family members. Not all family members are immediate family members. The following immediate members of your family may be eligible:

  • A de facto partner or spouse of the same or opposite sex. You must be able to prove the relationship is legitimate and that you live together on a permanent basis.
  • A dependent child or stepchild from a current or previous relationship and under the age of 18. Adult children aged 18 to 23 who are unmarried and completely dependent on their parents also can be considered for a family visa.

All family members included in the visa request must meet the health and character requirements.

If you are already living and working in Australia with an ENS visa and would now like to bring your family to the country, you must apply for a family visa. Australia offers several family visas, some temporary and some permanent. If you are unsure which family visa applies to your situation, feel free to book a consultation to determine the most appropriate pathway for you. 

Do I need to continue working in my occupation?

Whilst one of the conditions of applying for the visa is the applicant must demonstrate skill in a specific occupation, a visa holder is not required to seek or maintain employment for that skillset once the visa is granted. This is because visa holders who qualify for an ENS visa are granted Australian permanent residence with no conditions. 

For further information about what it means to be a permanent resident, please refer to here

What is the process?

There are several steps involved in the ENS 186 visa application process. It is important to verify you have met all requirements before submitting your application for consideration as refusal can be costly. Our experienced team can help simplify the process. A brief outline of the steps are as follows:

Step 1: An Australian employer is willing to sponsor your visa application. Variable
Step 2: An employer collects relevant documents and information and submits a nomination application Usually ~1 month from initiation(see LMT requirements)
Step 3: An employee collects relevant documents and information and submits a visa application Can be done simultaneously with Step 2
Step 4: Nomination and visa application are lodged with the immigration department. Usually within 1-2 days of Step 2
Step 5: Waiting period for the decision on the nomination and visa application. ~ 6 months
Step 6: Visa grant. Visa recipient should continue working for a sponsoring employer for at least (2) years after visa approval. 2 years

Do you have any further questions?

The process of applying for an ENS visa can be complex, and refusal costly. Our team is experienced at assisting a diverse range of organisations from start-ups to global multinationals across a variety of sectors. Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or queries or would like some guidance.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the firms immigration work flow.

More posts by Mihan Hannan

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Smital Parmar says:

    Hi Mihan,

    Is there still a requirement of 50 each in PTE test or we can consider 46 and above 46 as equivalent to 6 bands in ielts according to a new band score criteria.
    My partner is willing to apply for ENS but in one module of pte he received 49 score, is he still be eligible in English test requirement? Please advise
    Thanks heaps!

    • admin says:

      Hi Smital,
      Thanks for reaching out.
      We’re not aware of the new band score criteria you refer to, but the relevant legislative instrument still requires a “PTE Academic test score of at least 50 in each of the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening” or listed score in other acceptable test. See here:
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

    • Karen Abella says:

      Hi Mihan, just want to follow up your inquiry. Did they consider the 46?

      • admin says:

        Hi Karen,
        Primary applcants for ENS visas requrie a PTE score of at least 50 for each of the 4 components.
        Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss further.
        Kind regards,
        Hannan Tew

  • Valerie says:

    Good afternoon.
    How can I find an employer (ENS) for 482 visa?

    • admin says:

      Hi Valerie,
      Assuming you are already a 482 visa holder, the first step might be to speak to your current employer.
      Alternatively, you can find employers on conventional recruiting sites like
      Good luck,
      Hannan Tew

  • Uzi says:

    My name is Uzi, I am onshore and an employer (Department of education) is ready to sponsor me on ( 186 DE) as a secondary school teacher. I have a positive skill assessment, competent English and registration. But the problem is my skilled experience, I have 5 years
    experience as a secondary school teacher in total but after my bachelor’s of education it’s 2 years 9 months. Could you pls let me any way out ?
    My profile is
    BS(Honours) Chemistry
    MS Chemistry
    Bachelor of Education
    Other then school teaching I have a postdoctoral researcher experience of 5 months in Australia.
    Your guidance will be highly appreciated

    • admin says:

      Hi Uzi,
      One option might be to consider a TSS visa (sponsored by your employer) for the short term and the apply for a 186 visa later down the track.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • I am looking to get few talented people who at present live offshore, to come here and work with my company. I am looking for visa 186 DE.

  • Vincent says:

    I am on an 482 visa, I have been working with the employer for 6 months now. Can the employer start lodging and applying for 186?

    • admin says:

      Hi Vincent,
      Your employer can potentially sponsor you under the Direct Entry stream of the 186 visa as this does not require any time on a 482 visa.
      Alterantively, the Temporary Residence Transition stream will require you to have been employed on a TSS visa for at least 2 years.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Kim says:

    Hi, my Husband has 482 visa now. He will try to get 186 visa.
    He has over 6.5 IELTS.
    Should I get IELTS test as well?

    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Kim,
      ALl applicants who are over the age of 18 are assessed by Schedule 1 and this means that they do not need to demonstrate “functional English” at application but need to demonstrate “functional English” before a decision is made or pay the second instalment of the visa application charge.
      The IELTS test is cheaper than the second visa application charge.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.