What’s The Difference? Comparing Australia’s 187 & 186 Visas
The 187 RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) and 186 ENS (Employer Nomination Scheme) permanent residency visas have a lot in common. But these are still two different types of visas, and I think that a lot of prospective applicants are confused about which one of these visas is appropriate for them.
In this post, I will highlight the key differences between the 187 and 186 visas.
One thing that I’d like to point out is that like the 186 visa and despite its name, the 187 visa is an employer sponsored permanent residency visa.
Working in a regional area of Australia
You can only apply for the 187 RSMS visa if your nominated position is located in regional Australia. Your sponsoring employer must also be actively operating its business in this regional area. Regional areas are basically areas that are outside the major metropolitan centres of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Melbourne.
The postcodes of the areas that are classified as regional are listed here. Note that the whole of South Australia, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are classified as regional areas (including the relevant capital cities of these states and territories such as Adelaide and Perth). In the final section of this post, you’ll find a detailed outline of what needs to be met in relation to working in a regional area.
In contrast, you can apply for a 186 ENS visa irrespective of where your nominated position is located in Australia, including regional areas.
Applying for 187 RSMS visa under the Temporary Residence Transition (‘TRT’) stream
You may be able to apply under this stream if you currently hold a 457 visa and the employer that is currently sponsoring you for your 457 visa is also going to sponsor you for permanent residency.
The eligibility requirements are almost identical to those that need to be satisfied for 186 ENS applications made under the TRT stream. I have outlined the requirements in this post about the 186 ENS visa. I’m not going to outline the eligibility requirements in great detail since they are covered in my earlier post, but I will summarise the requirements:
- You’re a primary 457 visa holder and you’ve worked full-time for at least 2 years (out of the last 3 years) in the role that you’re approved to work in under your current 457 visa (work in similar roles may be allow and may count towards the 2 years. See 186 ENS visa for further information)
- You’re nominated role for your 187 RSMS visa application must be a full-time position. The position must be made available to you for at least 2 years. The terms and conditions of employment can’t contain any conditions that would preclude the possibility of you extending your employment beyond the initial 2 years
- The terms and conditions of employment are no less favourable than the terms and conditions that is or would be provided to an Australian citizen or permanent resident that is working in the same role and location as the nominated position. This requirement is covered in greater detail in my post in relation to the ‘market rate’ requirement
- Your nominating employer has met the ‘training requirement’ that it needed to meet when their Standard Business Sponsorship was approved
Unlike a 187 RSMS application that is made under the Direct Entry stream, a 187 RSMS nomination application made under the TRT stream does not need to be certified by a regional certifying body (see below in relation to certification by regional certifying bodies).
What’s the advantage of applying under the 187 RSMS TRT stream?
If you’re a 457 visa holder and you’re looking to apply under the TRT stream after completing 2 years of employment in a regional area, then both the 187 and 186 visa options may be available to you.
The only real difference and advantage of applying for the 187 RSMS visa is that DIAC gives RSMS applications priority processing over ENS applications. DIAC may be able to finalise your application quicker if you go down the RSMS pathway but other than that, I don’t see any other advantages or major differences.
There is an advantage for your sponsoring employer because they do not have to pay a nomination lodgement fee for the 187 RSMS nomination application (the lodgement fee for the 186 ENS nomination application is currently $520).
Applying for 187 RSMS visa under the Direct Entry (‘DE’) stream
- Your nominated occupation must align with an ANZSCO from major groups 1, 2 or 3. You can search for various ANZSCOs through the ABS website. This differs from applications made under the 186 ENS Direct Entry stream where your nominated occupation can be any occupation listed on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List
- The nomination application needs to be certified by the Regional Certifying body
- In a nomination application made under the RSMS DE stream, the skill level specified for the nominated role must be at least be equal to the skill level specified for the relevant ANZSCO occupation. This does sound a bit complicated but the following example should illustrate this requirement: if your nominated role aligns with the ANZSCO of Mechanical Engineering Technician, the ‘Indicative Skill Level’ for this occupation is either: AQF Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or Diploma or at least 3 years of relevant work experience. So you need to hold at least the required level of formal qualification or have at least 3 years of relevant work experience
- Your nominating employer does not need to meet the ‘training benchmark’ requirement
- Your sponsoring employer will need to show that the ‘market rate’ requirement is met
Skills assessment requirement for RSMS Direct Entry stream
The one major advantage of the 187 RSMS DE stream is that for those that are nominated into ANZSCO major 1 or 2 occupations, or a non-trade ANZSCO major group 3 occupation, you won’t need to complete a skills assessment. You still need to have either the required level of formal qualification or relevant work experience that is specified in the ‘Indicative Skill Level’ for the ANZSCO that your occupation aligns with.
So you may be able to apply for permanent residency before you complete 2 years of employment under a 457 visa, and without having to complete a skills assessment. You can also be exempted from having to do a skills assessment if your guaranteed annual salary is at least $180,001, or if you’ve worked for the employer that will sponsor you for at least 2 years as a Subclass 444 or 461 visa holder (New Zealand citizens and relatives of New Zealand citizens).
If your nominated ANZSCO is a trade occupation (from ANZSCO major group 3), then you need to have either a relevant Australian trade qualification or obtain a positive skills assessment for your occupation from VETASSESS or Trades Recognition Australia. This legislative instrument lists all the trade occupations for which you will need to complete a skills assessment or have a relevant Australian trade qualification.
Summary of when 187 RSMS visa may be right for you
If you’re working (or will be working) in a regional area and:
- If you’ve worked full-time for 2 years as a 457 visa holder and you want to apply under the TRT stream. Applying for a 187 RSMS visa will give you priority processing over 186 ENS visa applications
- Your occupation aligns with an ANZSCO from major groups 1 or 2, or a non-trade occupation from major group 3. You may be able to apply for a 187 RSMS visa without having to obtain a positive skills assessment
- Your employer can’t meet the ‘training benchmark’ requirement. This requirement does not apply for RSMS Direct Entry stream applications
- Your occupation is not in Schedule 1 or 2 but is in ANZSCO major groups 1, 2 or 3. Hypothetical example: Your employer or prospective employer wants you to work in a regional area of Australia, but they can’t sponsor you for a 457 or 186 visa because your occupation doesn’t fall into an ANZSCO that is on Schedule 1 or 2. However, your occupation aligns with an ANZSCO that is from major groups 1, 2 or 3. You may be able to apply directly for permanent residency under the RSMS Direct Entry stream
Your role must be in a regional area
Your nominating employer needs to operate their business in the regional area (although the employer doesn’t need to only operate their business in this area, or have their registered head office in the regional area). As the nominee, you don’t have to live in the regional area. You can travel to the regional area for work purposes. However, you can’t perform your role remotely. You need to be physically in the regional area to perform your role. For instance, if you’re an IT programmer and you’ve been offered a role in Perth, you can’t perform this role remotely from Melbourne and be eligible to be nominated for this role under the RSMS pathway.
If your role requires you to work in several locations, each of these location must be located within a regional area. Occasionally travelling to non-regional areas for meetings, presentations, training etc. is allowed. But if you need to regularly work outside of regional areas, then the nomination application won’t be approved under the RSMS pathway.
In terms of identifying a regional area for the nomination application, the relevant location is where the majority of your tasks and duties are carried out.
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