What is Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 Visas
The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) results in a permanent visa for the sponsored employee. Whilst it has been a common way for 457 visa holders to qualify for permanent residence, it does have a higher skill level than the 457/TSS visa.
There are two stages to the ENS subclass 186 application:
- Nomination: involves review of the business’ operations as well as the position offered to the employee. Employers will also be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund training levy – the date it takes effect is yet to be announced by the Government
- Visa Application: there are three possible pathways which may require a skills assessment, English language testing and health and police checks
There are three possible application pathways for an ENS visa:
- Temporary Residence Transition: In this case no skills assessment is required however, unless Grandfathering Provisions apply (see below), applicants need to be under 45 years of age at the time of lodgement, have worked with the nominating employer on a 457 or TSS visa for at least 3 years, nominate an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and meet Competent English
- Direct Entry Stream: Most of the time, applicants will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their occupation and show that they have worked in their occupation for three years. As above, applicants must also be under the age of 45 years, be nominating an occupation on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and meet competent English
- Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement
In some instances exemptions may be applicable to the above requirements.
The Department of Immigration has announced that 457 applicants and visa holders (as at 18 April 2017) will not need to meet all of the new requirements and will instead be able to preserve their eligibility for ENS and RSMS through the Temporary Residence Transition stream.
To be eligible for these transitional arrangements, applicants must have either:
- Held a 457 visa as at 18 April 2017, or
- Had a pending 457 visa application as at 18 April 2017, which resulted in the approval of a 457 or TSS visa.
Applicants who are eligible to apply via these provisions will not need to meet the new requirements in relation to:
- Occupation: applicants may qualify even if their occupation is not on the MLTSSL or has since been removed from the occupations list altogether
- Age: applicants may still qualify if they are aged between 45 and 49 years of age. In some instances, further exemptions may apply to those aged above 49 years
- Work experience on the 457 visa: applicants may qualify once they have worked in their nominated occupation for their nominating employer for at least 2 years whilst holding the 457 visa
Common Issues with ENS Visas
ENS visas require a significantly higher level of documentation than a 457/TSS visa. Difficulties which can be encountered in applying for ENS visas include
- Obtaining skills assessments – each skills assessing authority has different criteria, but in some circumstances this requirement can be avoided
- Demonstrating that the employer meets the “satisfactory record of training” requirement
- Showing exceptional circumstances where visa applicants would not meet the usual requirements for Age, English language ability and skill level