10 Useful Things to Know About Your Australian 186 Visa


The below are the 10 most common questions that I receive in relation to the Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visa.

Also, in this post, we outline the eligibility requirements for the 186 visa for the primary visa applicant in detail.


1) I’ve lodged my 186 visa application, and the company has lodged the nomination application. How long is it going to take to process?

According to the Department’s website, processing time is around 5-8 months. We think that this is a pretty good estimate of current processing times. However, this is just an indication of current average processing times. The Department’s processing time can be much longer.

Please do not ask me to predict the processing time for your application, or why there is a long delay with the processing of your application. I honestly do not have an answer for you. If you want an update in relation to your application, you will need to contact the Department.

2) Can I contact DIAC or my case officer directly and ask for an update on my application?

You can certainly do this. It is your application so even if you have a solicitor or migration agent acting for you. You can call up or email yourself and ask for an update.

But do not be surprised if this does not achieve much. Following up with the Department is not going to result in faster processing for your application. It may be difficult to contact your case officer directly, and you may not receive a clear response or any useful information (or any response at all).

3) I’ve lodged my 186 visa application and/or the company has lodged the nomination application. However, ‘something’ has come up and I don’t think that I will be able to work in the nominated position once the visa is approved. What is going to happen?

As part of the application, your sponsor makes the commitment that the nominated position will be available for 2 years on a full-time basis from the date of visa approval. Also, the terms and conditions of your employment cannot exclude the possibility of you extending your employment beyond the initial 2 years.

I am going to assume that sponsor has lodged the 186 nomination application and that the Department has not made a decision yet. You may or may not have lodged the 186 visa application. In this situation, if for whatever reason, the nominated position is no longer available, or if your sponsor is no longer able to make the commitment that is outlined above, then your sponsor’s nomination application no longer meets the eligibility requirements for nomination approval. Once your employer has determined that the eligibility requirements are no longer met, the nomination application should be withdrawn (and any associated visa application should also be withdrawn since the visa application cannot be approved without an approved nomination).

The above scenario can result from any number of causes, and may not be caused by the visa applicant at all. Below are some examples that I have encountered:

a) Due to my sponsor’s business slowing down, my nominated position has been made redundant / my employer is no longer able to provide me with full-time work / my employer cannot make the commitment that the nominated position will be available to me for 2 years from the date of visa approval; and

b) Due to personal circumstances (e.g. illness, situation with family member etc.), I am no longer able to work in the nominated role.

The cause can basically be any reason. It may be due to the action or situation of the sponsor, or the visa applicant. The result should be the same though. A ENS 186 visa is a permanent residency visa that is associated with a particular approved nominated position. If the nomination position is no longer available, or if the role no longer meets the eligibility requirements, then the nomination application should be withdrawn.

4) I have obtained my 186 visa. However, I need to leave my employer before I have completed 2 years of post visa approval employment. What is going to happen to my visa?

I have heard of all sorts of reasons for why people want or need to leave his or her employer. The below are just some examples:

  1. My employer is making me do duties which are not in my nominated role – I do not want to do these tasks
  2. My employer is not paying me the salary that was specified in my contract and/or visa application
  3. The ownership of my employing company has changed – I do not get along with the new management / owner
  4. I have been offered a role with another company and I want to take this
  5. My employer no longer needs my services and they have terminated my employment

Once you become an Australian permanent resident, the situation does change a bit. Generally speaking, there is nothing from a migration law perspective that can really prevent you from changing your employer or your role.

People tend to worry about whether their permanent residency visa will be cancelled if they leave their employer before completing 2 years of employment. But I would say that this generally will not occur unless you have provided the Department with ‘false or misleading information, or bogus documents either knowingly or otherwise’.

In my view, even if the Department is informed about your cessation of employment, they will not act to cancel your permanent residency visa unless they are provided with some clear evidence of fraud or misleading behaviour in relation to your visa application.

5) Do I need to work for 2 years on a 457 visa in the nominated position before I can apply for a ENS 186 visa?

Not necessarily. There are three eligibility pathways which you can satisfy in order to obtain a 186 visa. Completing 2 years of work as a 457 visa holder in the nominated role with your sponsoring employer is just one of the pathways.

Have a read of this post which explains the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (i.e. 2 years of employment as a 457 visa holder) and the pathway under the Direct Entry Stream.

6) For the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, can I count work from another employer, or work that I completed while holding a visa other than a 457 visa?

You can only count the duration of your employment as a 457 visa holder (not any other visa). The employment must be with the sponsor for your 186 visa. You cannot count employment with a previous employer.

Your work as a 457 visa holder must be the same role, or a similar role, as the role that is the subject of the 186 visa application (i.e. you cannot count employment with a different role, even if it is with the employer that is sponsoring you for the 186 visa).

7) What is the English language requirement for the 186 visa?

I have outlined English language requirement and the available exemptions. This post also covers the English language requirement for included dependents that are over the age of 18 years.

8) How much should I be paid if I obtain a 186 visa? What if I am not paid the salary specified in my contract and the nomination application?

Have a read of the ‘Market Rate’ requirement. If your sponsor is not paying you the salary specified in my contract and the nomination application, then this is more of a contract law and employment law issue. You can notify the Department, but I am not sure what action, if any, the Department would take in such a situation.

9) I’m on a 457 visa. I can submit a 186 visa application without my employer’s sponsorship?

No. You must be sponsored by an employer in order to lodge a 186 visa application. You cannot even start the online 186 visa application form until your employer has at least started to prepare the 186 nomination application (you need the reference ID from the nomination application in order to start the visa application).

10) Do I need a positive skills assessment outcome for my nominated occupation?

You need a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation if you are applying under the skills assessment pathway of the  Direct Entry Stream.


Main eligibility requirements for 186 visa


In order to obtain a 186 visa, the visa applicant and the employer will need to satisfy a number of requirements, including the following key requirements:

  • Employer will need to satisfy the ‘training benchmark’ requirement, which generally means that it will need to provide training to its Australian citizen and permanent resident employees
  • If the visa applicant is applying under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, then the applicant needs to complete 2 years of full-time work as a 457 visa holder
  • If the visa applicant is applying under the Direct Entry stream, then generally speaking the visa applicant will need to obtain a positive skill assessment for the nominated occupation and have 3 years of relevant work experience
  • Visa applicant needs to make the commitment to work in the nominated role for a period of at least 2 years from the date that permanent residency is granted. The employer will also need to make the commitment to ensure that the role available to the visa applicant for that period
  • The role that the visa applicant is nominated to perform needs to align with an eligible occupation on theConsolidated Sponsored Occupation List
  • Visa applicant must satisfy the English requirement for this visa, or one of the available exemptions
  • Visa applicant’s salary must be consistent with the ‘Australian market rate’ for the nominated role

Please note that the above listed requirements are not the only requirements that the visa applicant and the employer/sponsor need to satisfy in order to obtain a 186 visa. The above does outline the key requirements.



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768 thoughts on “10 Useful Things to Know About Your Australian 186 Visa

  1. Ati

    Hi I applied for my 186 through TRT stream On 20th June 2017 it’s been a 4 months
    i just wana kn how long you recon immi will take to finalise a decision thx

  2. Manish

    I had applied my ens direct entry offshore visa in November 2016 as a cook and it’s already been 11 months. The processing time is 6 to 10 months. I haven’t received any update from the inmigration. What you think sir how long they will take more to start my file as it’s reallg frustrating now?

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hopefully your application will be finalised before the end of the year but a lot of people are in your situation unfortunately.

  3. Steven

    Hello Peng,

    Wow, I commend you on your thoughtful and helpful support to people with various questions.

    If you could spare me a moment of your time to consider my situation:

    Currently I work for a large multinational based at their headoffice in EU having moved to EU from my country of birth, what is now just shy of 3 years agi and prior to that I was 3 years with same Coperate Employer, always in an Engineer position with the same responsibilities but with less independance than today. As I have recently qualified (July 2017) with an accredited Australia Engineers Diploma under the Dublin Accord.

    Given the above, will I still require a positive skills assement of the 3 years post qualification experience (not mentioned on gov website only via net threads)? Or could this be exempt given I have done the same work function for the last 6 years but umder supervision?

    Currently our office in Australia has advertised (internationally) for the same position and I would like to apply to them firstly, for nomination of course and then under a 186 visa and not a 457, which is going to fall away from April 2018. As additional info, I have more family in Aus than in my homeland. 2 first uncles and 5 first cousins who are citizens.

    If you could please provide your professional assistance, it would be highly appreciated.
    Ah and I have already registered for English test but see that there is an exemption if transferring from a multinational employer, is this correct?

    Thank you again,

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Steven,
      Sorry but we would need to refer you to our consultation service for such advice.
      Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

  4. Julie

    Hi Peng,

    I’m currently on 457 and have applied for 186 last May. I’m also expecting and would love to deliver the baby overseas. My employer is happy for me to take 6 months unpaid leave. My question is, do I need to inform immigration that I will be out of the country for that 6 months period?

    Thank you,


      1. Julie

        Thank you, Peng!

        I tried contacting the immi but i’m always over 90th on the phone queue. Phew..

        Thank you!!!

  5. Sam

    Hi, I would like to apply for the ENS direct entry visa 186.
    1. Does my employer need to apply for a sbs?
    2. Technically Can I submit my visa application without the skill assessment ?
    As the waiting time is very long, I was wondering if I can start submitting my visa application and them upload later my skill assessment as soon as I get it positive.
    3. In case if the nomination is refused, will I be able to remove my visa application ?
    Can you pls advise if I can do that ?
    Thank you very much for your help!

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      1. No SBS not required.
      2. No you need your skill assessment at the time that you lodge your visa.
      3. You can withdraw the visa.

  6. Jess

    Dear Sir,

    I currently have a valid 457 visa that expires in May 2021. I plan to submit a 186 Visa/Permanent Resident application soon (September 2017) . Will I still be able to travel overseas and return to Australia while my 186 application is being processed? I ask as I have plans to travel to the US in November 2017. Thank you.

  7. Imran Safdar

    Hi Peng,
    I have posted this question before but didn’t get a reply so trying again.
    My current 457 visa was issued on the 6th of October 2015. The employer is happy to submit a nomination for the 186 visa under the temporary resident transition stream. Can he apply for the nomination before the 6th October 2017 ? Which means before completing 2 years on the current 457. I am aware that the visa application can be made after completing two years but wondering if the same applies for the nomination.


    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Imran,
      You need to complete the full 2 years of work before you can lodge the nomination application.

  8. John barker

    Hi Peng,
    I got my permanent residency through 186 application and made a small mistake. I didn’t include my step children’s on it. Since i was from overseas didn’t know much about Australian law so we decided to get ours residency done first than later apply for them. When time came i am hearing from the solicitors that since i have provided false information i might jeopardy my PR if i go a head for my step children’s application. Is there a real risk as i am bit scared to lodge an application but i have to. Thanks

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi John,
      Sorry but I can’t provide advice just based on your comment information.
      Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

  9. Lauri

    Hi, i’m a bit confused about the 3 years of relevant work experience. For example, when i’m nominated with occupation 2631 Computer Network Professionals and have 3 years full time work experience (20 hours per week as stated in ACS) is that sufficient or is there another “full time” meaning under the 186 visa application?

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Lauri,
      For the 3 years of work experience, you can count part-time work experience which is counted on a pro-rata basis (i.e. 6 months is equal 3 months part-time).

      1. Lauri

        Thank you,
        My confusion was with the term “full time” . ACS states its at least 20 hours per week & DIBP states its 35 hours per week. Is DIBP version of full time considered when applying for the 186 visa ?

  10. Riya

    We applied ENS 186 visa last May 2016.My husband is Indian cook.Our file is in processing.We submitted all documents (PCC,Medical). Our agent also try to contact to CO but she didn’t give any response.Then Our agent said may be she don’t want any documents now.Its almost 2 months that Our file is in processing.Any idea when our PR will come.

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Riya,
      Hopefully the Department will contact you in the next few months.
      Department’s processing time is very slow due to staff cut-backs.

      1. Riya

        Hi peng
        Thanks for information.Our nomination was approval in 1st week of July.Now I want to know how many time Department will approve our PR.
        We deposit the Documents whenever they demand.

  11. Santosh

    Hello sir..
    On what basis employer can cancel or overlap the Australian permenant residents which we got applied from ENS 186 visa .
    Can u help me to clear with this please
    Thank you

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      ​Hi Santosh,
      The employer can inform the Department that they are withdrawing the sponsorship at any time before the Department makes the final decision.

      1. Santosh

        Hi peng..
        As my enquiry is I had recently got PR with the ENS …now my employer have any circumstances to cancel my PR ..

        THANK YOU

  12. Jiyun Lee

    Dear Sir

    I have been granted 457 visa 06 /April/2017 as a cook position
    it took 8 months to granted
    I have been working for 3 years this same place
    2years for part time
    1 years for full time

    in order to apply 186 , should i work 2years from granted date? or
    someone said that it would be included bridging period and part time as i have been working same shop and same boss

    and my occupation is cook so it is already removed from sol list but i got 4 years 457 visa
    would i be able to apply 186? to get permanent visa?

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Jiyun,
      Sorry but you can’t count time on a bridging visa before your first 457 visa is granted.
      Under the current law, you can apply for permanent residency after 2 years of work as a 457 visa holder.

  13. Arjun pandey

    Hi my 457 ends at august 2017 but I applied 186 on September 2016 unfortunately ENS declined at may 2017 I applied at june again will it be possible

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Sorry but I can’t provide advice just based on your comment information.
      Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

  14. khushwant singh

    Hello sir . I had 4 years 457 visa which was expired in November 2016 and I applied before it. But I have not got my nomination and visa . I have done 2 years with my company in march,
    my question is…… could I apply 186 ENS while 457 in processing before 1 July. I have overall 6 in ielts but not in each because I need only 5each rite now

  15. leo

    Hi , i got 186 visa last year 28 november 2016
    i have been live in australia since 2012, can i apply for citizenship , or have to wat till 2020 novemberthnx

    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Leo,
      Government hasn’t released the details for the proposed citizenship changes, but yes one of the indicated changes is living 4 years in Australia as a PR visa holder.

  16. Laxman

    Hi Peng,
    Appreciate your support for the information,
    My 457 Visa is expiring in SEP’2017, as per the new changes in visa, my existing visa is listed in MTSSL, as per the reference below there is no update for English requirements scoring in IELTS / PTE, I had an English medium study from class-1 to Graduation i.e for 15 years, could you please suggest IELTS score incaes of new 457 visa under MTSSL

    Thank you

  17. Kamal

    Hi ! I applied457 to 186 visa 8.5 months as a restaurent manager . Can you advise me how long take open my file. Restaurant manager not in list . Am I safe ?

  18. Shan

    We have just applied for 187 visa two weeks ago. But last week we got to know that the employer is going to sell the business.
    In this case if we withdraw our application before they make any decision, are we eligible for a refund?


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