The Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme visa is a permanent residency visa that requires the sponsorship of a nominating employer.

There are two separate pathways or streams for the 186 visa. You can satisfy the requirements of either stream before applying for the 186 visa. The streams are called the Direct Entry stream, and the Temporary Residence Transition 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 the Consolidated 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.

 

 

Commitment that you make as a Subclass 186 visa applicant

 

In the visa application form, as the applicant, you are required to declare that you:

  1. Agree to work in the nominated position for at least two years
  2. Understand that if you as the applicant, or any family members included in the application or third parties acting your behalf, provide (or have provided in a previous application) false or misleading information, or bogus documents either knowingly or otherwise, the visa application will be refused and you may be subject to three year bar in relation to visas to which the fraud criterion applies. Any visa granted may be cancelled.

Effectively, this means that when your visa application is lodged, you must have the intention to work for your sponsoring employer in your nominated role for at least 2 years from the date that the permanent residency visa is approved.

 

Common eligibility requirements

 

All 186 visa applicants need to satisfy the following common requirements:

  • You can apply for this visa if you hold a substantive visa, or a bridging visa A, B or C. If you hold a bridging visa, you won’t need to address Schedule 3
  • Age requirement
  • Equivalent terms and conditions of employment

 

Age requirement

 

You need to be under 50 years of age at the time that you lodge your application. There are only a few allowed exceptions to this requirement for those applicants that are 50 years of age or over which are outlined below:

  1. Ministers of religion nominated by a religious institution
  2. Researchers, scientists and technical specialists at ANZSCO skill levels 1 or 2 who have been nominated by an Australian government agency
  3. Senior academics employed by a university in Australia
  4. Persons holding subclass 457 visas, who have a) worked for their nominating employer for at least the 4 year period preceding the visa application and b) been paid at least the Fair Work High Income Threshold for each of these 4 years (this pathway is only available through the Temporary Residence Transition stream)

 

Equivalent terms and conditions of employment

 

Your sponsoring employer needs to demonstrate that the terms and conditions of your employment are no less favourable than the terms and conditions of employment that would be provided to an ‘equivalent Australian citizen or permanent resident’ (known as the ‘market rate’ requirement). This can be shown by providing a contract of an Australian citizen or permanent resident that is working in the same position and location as the role that you are nominated to perform for the purposes of the visa application.

Your employer may not have an Australian citizen or permanent resident that works as an employee in the same role and location as your nominated role.

If this is the case, then your employer can provide evidence of what the Australian market salary rate is for your nominated role and show that your salary is at least equal to the market rate. This is generally demonstrated by providing Australian market salary survey data. This data needs to be relevant to the nominated role and the location where you will be working (i.e. market salary data, such as Hays Salary Guides, will usually give specific data for various capital cities around Australia).

 

Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream

 

To apply under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, you need to complete two years of employment with the employer that sponsored you for your 457 visa.

Employment with a different 457 visa sponsor can’t be counted towards the two years. Employment while holding a different visa can’t count towards the two years.

You need to have been working in the role that you will be sponsored for under the Subclass 186 visa application for at least 2 out of the last 3 years (excluding periods of unpaid leave). This also means that employment completed in a different role cannot be counted, even if you performed this role with the same sponsor.

 

English language requirement – TRT stream

 

You need to have ‘vocational’ English language ability which is satisfied if any of the following applies to you:

  • If you hold a passport from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland or New Zealand; or
  • The English examination scores that you need to achieve for Vocational English are as follows:
Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 5 5 5 5
TOEFL iBT 4 4 14 14
PTE Academic 36 36 36 36
OET B B B B

 

You are exempted from having to satisfy the English language requirement if:

  • You are a Minister of Religion nominated by a religious institution, or
  • Your guaranteed annual earnings for your nominated position is at least equivalent to the highest current Australian individual income tax rate (currently $180,001 per annum), or
  • If you have completed at least 5 years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where all the tuition was delivered in English

 

Direct Entry (DE) stream

 

Generally speaking, you need to apply for and obtain a positive skill assessment for your nominated occupation from the relevant skill assessment body. You must have your positive skill assessment outcome at the time of lodgement of your visa application.

If you are not sure about which skill assessment body is applicable for your occupation, find the relevant ANZSCO on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List. This list states the relevant skill assessment body for each sponsorable occupation.

You are exempt from having to complete a skill assessment if your guaranteed annual salary falls within the highest Australian income tax bracket (currently $180,001).

You are also exempt from having to complete a skill assessment if you are a Subclass 444 (New Zealand citizens) or Subclass 461 visa holder (relative of a New Zealand citizen) and you have worked in a sponsorable occupation for the same employer for at least 2 out of the last 3 years (excluding periods of unpaid leave).

If you work in an occupation which requires mandatory registration or licensing, and the skill assessing authority is also the authority responsible for registration or licensing, then evidence of full registration or licensing will be sufficient evidence that you have the required skill for the occupation. You will not need to complete a skill assessment.

 

English language requirement – DE Stream

 

The English language requirements for the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition streams are different.

You need to have ‘competent’ English language ability which is satisfied if:

  • If you hold a passport from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland or New Zealand; or
  • The English examination scores that you need to achieve for Competent English are as follows:
Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL iBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50
OET B B B B

 

You are exempted from having to satisfy the English language requirement if:

  • You are a Minister of Religion nominated by a religious institution, or
  • Your guaranteed annual earnings for your nominated position is at least equivalent to the highest current Australian individual income tax rate (currently $180,001 per annum)

 

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Dependents who are over 18 – Functional English language ability

 

This applies for both the DE and TRT streams.

All adult dependents who are over 18 years of age will need to demonstrate ‘functional’ English language ability. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways:

  1. Achieve English examination results outlined below; or
  2. Complete all years of primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education at educational institutions in which all instruction was conducted in English; or
  3. Complete at least 5 years of secondary education at institutions in which all instruction was conducted in English; or
  4. Complete in Australia at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma at an institution or institutions where all the instruction was conducted in English; or
  5. Hold an award (being a degree, a higher degree, a diploma or a trade certificate) that required at least 2 years of full-time study or training; and all instruction (including instruction received in other courses for which the person was allowed credit) for that award was conducted in English.

Required Scores to establish Functional English are as follows:

Test component Average test score
IELTS 4.5
TOEFL iBT 32
PTE Academic 30

 

 

The application process

 

You can only lodge an application using the Department’s online portal.

You can only prepare the online visa application form once your nominating employer has at least started to prepare the nomination application for your role (which is also prepared using the online portal). This is because you need the nomination application TRN which will be issued to your employer once they have started to prepare the nomination application.

You can lodge your visa application while you are inside or outside of Australia (but you won’t be granted a Bridging Visa A that is associated with your Subclass 186 visa application if you are outside of Australia at the time of lodgement).

After you have lodged the application, you upload the supporting documents electronically. As part of the initial application, you do not need to submit any actual paper work or forms. It is all online.

In my experience with NSW applications, normal processing time is 3-8 months.

 

How much does this visa cost?

 

The below is just a list of the relevant government lodgement fees:

  • 186 nomination application: $540
  • Base application fee: $3520
  • Additional applicant charge for each additional adult that is 18 years and over: $1760
  • Additional applicant charge for each additional adult that is 18 years or under: 880

 

Secondary visa application charge (SVAC)

 

This needs to be paid if anyone in your application who does not satisfy the English language requirement that applies to them. However, as the primary applicant, you need to meet the English language requirement. If you do not meet the English language requirement – then one of the exemptions outlined above must apply to you. If one of the exemptions apply to you as the primary applicant, then you need to pay the SVAC if you also do not have ‘functional’ English language ability.

This fee is paid at the time of decision so your case officer will contact you at the time that the payment is required.

As the primary applicant, if you don’t have functional English language ability, then the SVAC is $8,520. For other adult dependents that can’t demonstrate functional English, the SVAC is $4,520.

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Frequently asked questions

 

  1. Q: For the TRT stream, can I count work that I completed under another visa like 485 and student visa?
    A: No
  2. Q: For the TRT stream, can I count work completed with a different employer?
    A: No
  3. Q: For the TRT stream, can I lodge my application before I complete 2 years of full-time work if I am close to completing 2 years?
    A: No – you must satisfy the 2 year requirement at the time of application

 

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