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Employer SponsoredENS Visas

ENS visa processing times and in demand occupations

By 19 April, 2021April 28th, 202317 Comments4 min read

ENS visaA shortage of skilled workers is an ongoing challenge in Australia and globally. Businesses in Australia are able to consider the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) (ENS) visa to hire foreign workers as a solution to local labour market shortages. Whilst businesses are entitled to hire foreign workers on both temporary and permanent visas, the process can be time-consuming. ENS visa processing times can range between a few to 12 months, depending on particular circumstances. 

Skill-shortage occupations in Australia targeted by the Department of Home Affairs

STEM skills equals job currency of the future. A worsening skills shortage in Australia has driven the government to respond with innovative visa programs (e.g. the streamlined Global Talent visa) in addition to existing pathways (e.g. the ENS program). The Australian government relies upon skill shortage research to determine which sectors are hit the hardest by deficits in skilled labour. According to the most recent analysis, the following skills are the most in-demand.

  1. Construction industry, especially engineers, technicians and commercial workers like carpenters, electricians, joiners and plumbers;
  2. Farmers and temporary farmworkers are needed to assist with tasks like harvesting crops;
  3. Management professionals for white-collar positions in the advertisement, marketing, and accounting professions are in shortage in country areas;
  4. Mechanics, especially those trained in the specialties of an automotive electrician, automotive transmission, and automotive air conditioning;
  5. Nurses and medical staff with areas experiencing the highest level of shortages include Registered Nurses and personal care staff;
  6. Skilled trades, including metal fabricators and welders;
  7. Software programmers are a vital need, especially within the technology sector. Programmers who are trained in user interface and front-end and full-stack developers are in the highest demand; and
  8. Teachers at the secondary school level are needed in several regions within Australia.

186 visa processing time in early 2021

It can be difficult to estimate processing times given that it can be impacted based on external factors such as the number of applications received or travel restrictions (e.g. COVID-19). As of 18 March 2021, the processing time can be summarised as follows:

Processing Times
(75% | 90%)
Direct Entry 3 months | 6 months
Labour Agreement 6 days | 12 months
Temporary Residence Transition 5 months | 10 months

Circumstances affecting a specific ENS visa application’s processing time can include:

  • Whether all required and supporting documents to prove the claims;
  • Whether additional requests for information have been promptly responded to;
  • How long it takes to perform mandated background checks and verify supporting documentation

Once a visa application is filed, you can view estimated processing times within your online ImmiAccount.

Visa conditions once approved

If an ENS visa is approved, the holder is permitted to stay in Australia indefinitely. A permanent resident is eligible to enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme and can sponsor family members who wish to immigration here. A permanent resident can also freely travel to and from Australia for five years from grant of the visa. After the five-year period expires, an individual must consider other visa options to travel outside and return to Australia (e.g. apply for a Resident Return Visa). The ENS visa can also be used as a stepping-stone toward Australian citizenship (see here).

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

Speeding up the process

Although there is no formal means to expedite the process, ensuring you have provided a complete and clear set of documents can help in reducing unnecessary delays. 

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 17 Comments

  • Cyril Samuel says:

    My brother is a market research professional . His employer in sydney is willing to sponsor 186 visa direct entry.
    Can you give me a rough processing time for this visa ?

    • admin says:

      Hi Cyril,
      The processing time will depend on whether or not your brother’s employer is an Accredited Sponsor and whether he is onshore. For onshore applicants, Accredited Sponsors are seeing visa processing within 2-3 months whilst non-Accredited sponsors are usually taking 6-12 months. Non-onshore visas are not being processed unless a travel exemption is obtained.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss this further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

    • VR says:

      I’m waiting for my 186 visa grant and if I want to change my employer who is the sponsor then will I have to find another sponsor to continue my stay in Australia?

      • admin says:

        Hi VR,
        If you are applying for 186 under the TRT stream then changing employer will mean that your 186 visa cannot be approved.
        If you are applying for 186 under the DE stream then you might be able to change employer without issue (depending on your current visa status).
        Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss.
        Kind regards,
        Hannan Tew

        • Dhanya says:

          Hi, May I know the current processing time for 186DE Registered Nurse aged care. On shore. Queensland.

          Thanks in advance

          • admin says:

            Hi Dhanya,

            While standard processing times are around 4-6 months at the moment, as your occupation is on the PMSOL you may receive an outcome within 2-3 months subject to the application being decision ready and ability to obtain health examinations (of course there are no guarantees).
            Feel free to get in touch if you require our assistance.

            Kind regards,
            Hannan Tew

  • Es says:

    My company has recently sponsored someone for 482, and does it mean that the company is now a “Accredited Sponsor” and the future nomination process will be faster?
    If yes, how long is the current 186 processing time for accountant?

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hi Es,
      It’s great that your company is an Accredited Sponsor as it does lead to faster processing times.
      Though processing times do vary, Accountants are currently on the PMSOL so we’ve been seeing these applications get priority processed.
      Without promising anything, you might be able to get a visa in 2-3 months.
      Feel free to get in touch if you require our assistance.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • ANDY says:

    Hi, I will apply for permanent recedency and I would like to know how lomg will take roughly?
    in addition, I would like a consultation with you for my application. Thanks

  • David says:

    Hi. My application for employer nomination was finalised 2 weeks agao. And my health check passed as well.
    Can you please estimate how long it will take to get my visa approval. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for reaching out.
      Generally visas are processed within a few weeks of the nomination, assuming all things are decision ready.
      Good luck,
      Hannan Tew

  • Anupriya Singh says:


    My employer has filed my ENS nomination under direct stream. I am a software engineer by profession and i am onshore. I wanted to check on the timeline for nomination aproval. Right now I am on my bridging visa and waiting for my 482 visa. Can I change the employer once I have my 482 visa granted? How is this going to my ENS nomination? Do I need to check with my new employer if they will be willing to file the visa after nomination is aproved for 186(DE). Thanks in advance for your guidance.

    • admin says:

      Hi Anupriya,
      A few points to unpack:
      (a) ENS applications usually take 6 to 12 months to process.
      (b) you can change employer after 582 is granted but you need a new nominator to sponsor you
      (c) DE doesn’t need you to be working with your nominating employer before grant.
      Good luck, but do let us know if you’d like our assistance.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew


    my grandson bachelor of info teck and he working in company having one year work experience he is in sydney aus.his nominated occupation is ICT SUPPORT ENGINEAR on STOSSL LIST WHAT are the avenues open for him for PR

    • admin says:

      Hi Gurcharan,
      We’d need to review his specific circumstances to determine eligibility for the various permanent residence pathways, but feel free to contact us at [email protected] to consider this in more detail.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

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