Do you want to live and work in Australia permanently, and are you a skilled worker? Then, the Australia 186 Visa, also known as the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186), is what you need. This visa lets you move to Australia as a permanent resident if an Australian employer nominates you for a skilled job.


    Exciting right?

    However, it’s more complex than it sounds. There are three types of ENS visas: the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the Direct Entry stream, and the Labour Agreement stream. Your eligibility depends on your specific situation, so picking the right one is crucial.

    We’ll break down everything about the ENS visa, starting from the key benefits and requirements of each stream of the application process, and weigh the pros and cons of each option.

    Temporary Residence Transition Stream – Australia 186 Visa Type

    If you’re already in Australia on a temporary visa and looking to make the big jump to permanent residency, the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the ENS visa could be your ticket.

    The Australia 186 visa is Designed for skilled workers under their employer’s wing for at least three years, this stream is a pathway to settling down in Australia for good.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To qualify for this TRT stream, you need to tick off a few boxes:

    1. Current Visa: When applying, you should hold a subclass 457, TSS, or a related bridging visa.
    2. Work Experience: You must have worked for the same employer, in the same job, for at least three years before applying.
    3. Employer Nomination: Your employer must nominate you for a permanent position under the same job title as your temporary visa.
    4. Age Limit: Generally, you need to be under 45, but there are exceptions based on your occupation, skills, or salary.
    5. Character and Health: Meeting character and health requirements and any specific criteria related to your job or visa type is necessary.
    6. English Proficiency: A minimum score of 6 in each component of the IELTS test, or an equivalent level, is necessary.

    See list of approved level of the English language visa requirements

    Application Process

    Here’s how you go about it:

    1. Employer’s Role: Your employer starts by applying online and paying a $540 nomination fee.
    2. Your Turn: Within six months of your nomination getting the green light, you use online, shouldering a $4,045 fee (additional charges for dependents apply).
    3. Documentation: You’ll need to gather and submit several documents like passports, identity proofs, employment contracts, payslips, tax returns, English test results, police clearances, etc.
    4. Waiting Game: Processing times vary, typically 6 to 9 months.
    5. Additional Requirements: Prepare for potential interviews, extra information requests, or medical exams.
    6. Outcome: Your application will either be granted, refused, or cancelled.


    • Faster Processing: No need for a skills assessment, a time-saver.
    • Lower English Requirements: Just ‘competent’ English is needed, not ‘proficient’ or ‘superior’.
    • Skip the Skills Assessment: Saves you the trouble and cost of assessing your skills.


    • Occupation Limitations: Your job must be on the MLTSSL or ROL lists.
    • Income Threshold: You must meet the TSMIT of $53,900 annually, subject to yearly adjustments.

    In a nutshell, if you’re in Australia, have been working here for a while, and your job fits the bill, this stream can be a straightforward path to becoming a permanent resident. Just make sure you align with all the requirements and prepare for a bit of a wait.


    Direct Entry Stream

    The Direct Entry stream is another stream of the Australia 186 Visa (ENS visa) that you can apply for if you are not eligible for the Temporary Residence Transition stream or prefer to apply directly for permanent residency. This stream is suitable for skilled workers who have not worked in Australia before, have worked for less than three years, and have a positive skills assessment in their nominated occupation.


    • You must be under 45 unless you are exempt due to your occupation, skills, or salary.
    • Before applying, you must have a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation, issued by the relevant assessing authority, within the last three years.
    • Your employer must nominate you for a permanent position under the same occupation as your skills assessment.
    • You must meet the character and health requirements and any other specific requirements for your occupation or visa.
    • You must have at least proficient English language skills, scoring at least 7 in each component of the IELTS test or equivalent.

    The Application Process

    • You must choose the relevant assessing authority for your occupation and submit your skills assessment application online or by mail, depending on the authority’s requirements. Depending on the authority and occupation, you must pay the skills assessment fee, ranging from $300 to $1,200.
    • You must provide the required documents and evidence to support your skills assessment application, such as your passport, identity documents, qualifications, work experience, references, etc. You must also comply with any requests from the assessing authority, such as attending an interview, providing additional information, or undergoing practical examinations.
    • You must wait for the assessing authority to process your skills assessment application, which can take 2 to 12 weeks, depending on the authority and the occupation. You must receive the outcome of your skills assessment application, which can be either positive, negative, or conditional.
    • You can proceed to the next step if you receive a positive skills assessment. If you receive a negative or conditional skills assessment, you can either appeal the decision or apply for a different occupation or visa stream, depending on your situation.
    • Your employer must submit a nomination application online and pay the nomination fee of $540.
    • You must submit your visa application online within six months of the nomination being approved and pay the visa application fee of $4,045 for the primary applicant and additional costs for any dependent family members.
    • You must provide the required documents and evidence to support your visa application, similar to the previous stream, but also include your skills assessment result and any other documents required by your occupation or visa.
    • You must wait for the immigration department to process your visa application, which can take 9 to 12 months, depending on the complexity of your case and the availability of places.
    • You must comply with any requests from the immigration department, similar to the previous stream.
    • You must receive the outcome of your visa application, which can be either granted, refused, or cancelled.


    • You can choose from a wider range of occupations, as you can apply for any occupation on the MLTSSL, the STSOL, or the ROL, which are the lists of occupations eligible for skilled migration to Australia. These lists include more than 600 occupations, covering various fields and sectors.
    • You can have higher chances of success, as you have already proven your skills and qualifications through the skills assessment process, which is a rigorous and reliable way of assessing your suitability for the nominated occupation and the Australian labour market.


    • You can face a longer processing time, as you must undergo a skills assessment process, which can take several months to complete, depending on the assessing authority and the occupation. This can delay your visa application and your plans to migrate to Australia.
    • You can face higher English language requirements, as you must demonstrate proficient rather than competent English, which is required for other streams. This means you need to score higher on the English language test or have other evidence of your English language skills, such as a degree from an English-speaking country.

    Labour Agreement Stream

    The Labour Agreement stream is a unique pathway in the Employer Nomination Scheme (Australia 186 visa) for those whom employers nominate with a specific labour agreement with the Australian government. This agreement allows employers to sponsor foreign workers for jobs not listed on the standard occupation lists like the MLTSSL, STSOL, or ROL.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for this stream, here’s what you need:

    • You must be nominated for a permanent position matching the occupation in the labour agreement.
    • These vary based on the agreement’s type, occupation, and employer. Expect criteria on age, skills, qualifications, work experience, English proficiency, salary, and job location.
    • Like other streams, you need to meet a visa’s general character and health requirements.

    Application Process

    The process is a bit more complex:

    1. Labour Agreement Request: If your employer doesn’t already have one, they must request a labour agreement from the immigration department. This includes detailed business information and can take 3 to 12 months.
    2. Negotiation and Approval: The immigration department negotiates terms with the employer and, if agreed upon, issues a labour agreement.
    3. Employer Nomination: Your employer submits a nomination application and pays a $540 fee.
    4. Your Visa Application: Submit your application online within six months of nomination approval and the $4,045 fee (plus additional dependents).
    5. Documentation: You need standard documents plus those required by the labour agreement, like qualifications and work experience.
    6. Processing Time: Expect a 9 to 12-month processing period.
    7. Compliance with Requests: Be ready for interviews, additional information, or medical exams.
    8. Visa Outcome: Your application could be granted, refused, or cancelled.


    • This stream opens doors to in-demand jobs, like chefs, nurses, or engineers, not on standard lists.
    • Age, skills, and English language requirements might be more lenient, accommodating older applicants, those with less proficient English, or those without formal qualifications.


    • Your fate is closely tied to your employer. Your visa chances dim if they have a labour agreement, withdraw their nomination, or terminate your employment will remain high.
    • The labour agreement process is lengthy, scrutinized, and can be more costly. There are also additional terms and conditions to adhere to, such as employment terms, training obligations, and regular reporting.

    In summary, the Labour Agreement stream is for those whose job prospects are tied to specific employer agreements and who can navigate this arrangement’s additional complexities and dependencies. It’s an option for those with unique skills in particular sectors not covered by the usual occupation lists.


    So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the Australia 186 Visa, also known as the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186). This visa is your gateway to becoming a permanent resident in Australia, provided an Australian employer nominates you for a skilled job.

    Remember, this visa category has three distinct streams: the Temporary Residence Transition stream, the Direct Entry stream, and the Labour Agreement stream. 

    Each has unique requirements and benefits, so it’s crucial to pick the one that best aligns with your situation and qualifications.

    Australia 186 Visa (ENS Visa): Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is the ENS Visa?

    The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa is for skilled workers looking to migrate to Australia as permanent residents. The key is to be nominated by an Australian employer for a skilled position. 

    2. What is the Australia 186 Visa Processing Time?

    • Temporary Residence Transition Stream: Typically, 75% of applications are processed within 6 months, and 90% within 9 months.
    • Direct Entry Stream: About 75% of applications are processed within 9 months, and 90% within 12 months.
    • Labour Agreement Stream: Here, 75% of applications are processed in 9 months and 90% in 12 months.
    • These times can vary based on case complexity and slot availability.

    3. What are the cost of Applying for the ENS Visa?

    • Nomination Fee: $540 for all streams, paid by the employer.
    • Visa Application Fee: $4,045 for the primary applicant. Additional applicants over 18 years old are charged $2,025 each, and those under 18 years old, $1,010 each.
    • Other costs may include fees for skills assessment, English language testing, health examinations, and police certificates.

    4. What are the benefits of the Australia 186 Visa?

    • Permanent Residency: Live and work in Australia without restrictions.
    • Citizenship Opportunity: Eligibility to apply for Australian citizenship.
    • Family Sponsorship: Sponsor eligible family members for residency or citizenship.
    • Health Care Access: Utilize Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare system.
    • Social Security Benefits: Access Centrelink, the social security system.
    • Education Access: Use public schools and universities in Australia.


    Additional Recommended Reading:


    I'm Ian, a travel blogger with a background in publishing. My hobby is exploring new places, and here, I share my discoveries from quaint towns and bustling cities. Each trip inspires my next post, inviting you to join me on this exciting journey.