The Australian Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

The Australian Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

The Australian Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) is a visa pathway that allows skilled workers from overseas to live and work permanently in Australia, if they are sponsored by an approved Australian employer.

This employer-sponsored visa scheme provides a way for businesses that are unable to fill certain highly skilled occupations locally to recruit qualified candidates from abroad. It allows them to nominate workers from outside Australia who have the necessary qualifications and work experience for jobs they need filled.

Once sponsored and nominated, these visa applicants can then apply for a permanent Employer Nomination visa that will allow them to work and remain in Australia indefinitely with extensive rights and privileges. Essentially, it’s a program that benefits Australian employers by giving them access to a global pool of talent to fill local skills gaps, while also providing those overseas workers a chance to relocate permanently.

The subclass 186 visa has strict requirements in terms of skills, experience and language ability that applicants require to be eligible. It also obligates workers to remain employed with the sponsoring employer for an initial period before having full work rights. Overall though, it provides a valuable pathway to permanent resident status for those wishing to live and work long-term in Australia.

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for a subclass 186 employer-sponsored permanent residence visa under the scheme, applicants must meet several key requirements related to their employment, skills, age and existing visa status:

  • Employment Requirements: The applicant must have worked for their nominating employer lawfully and full-time for at least 2 years immediately before the employer nomination is lodged. This rises to 3 years if the nomination is being made under a specific labour agreement.
  • Skills & Occupation: The applicant’s occupation and skills must match those required for the position the employer has nominated them for. The role must be highly skilled and appear on Australia’s list of approved occupations for employer-sponsored migration programs.
  • Age Limit: All applicants must be under the age of 50 at the time the nomination for their visa position is lodged by the employer.
  • Current Visa Status: The applicant must already hold a valid visa with work rights allowing them to work for the nominating employer when they apply for this 186 pathway. Or they must have lodged a bridging visa application whilst holding previous work rights.

Meeting each of these Subclass 186 visa eligibility requirements is mandatory. Detailed evidence must also be compiled and submitted during the application process to prove the applicant satisfies them.

Requirements for Nominating Employers

Australian businesses seeking to sponsor and nominate overseas workers for this permanent residence visa pathway must meet several key requirements:

  • Lawful Business: The nominating employer must be lawfully operating a business inside Australia that conforms fully with both federal and state/territory laws.
  • Full-Time Position: They must be offering the nominated overseas worker a legitimate full-time job paying above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold level (currently set at $53,900 per annum).
  • Local Hiring Efforts: Employers must first demonstrate their commitment to the Australian workforce and economy. This includes evidence showing extensive recent efforts to hire local labour and train/upskill Australians before declaring they cannot fill the position locally.

Additionally, once workers commence employment under this scheme, nominating employers agree to obligations around non-discriminatory work practices, providing training opportunities, and continuing to seek opportunities to hire and develop Australian citizen staff.

These requirements ensure the scheme meets its goals of allowing employers to address genuine skills shortages, while still promoting employment and training for the Australian workforce at large.

Visa Application Process

Gaining a subclass 186 employer-sponsored permanent residence visa is a two-step application process:

Step 1 – Employer Nomination:

First, the sponsoring employer must submit a Nomination Application to the Department of Home Affairs to nominate the overseas worker for a specific position in their business.

If approved, the employer will receive a notification confirming the nomination which formally ties the worker to this employer and position for 2-3 years.

Step 2 – Visa Application:

Only once employer nomination is approved can the worker lodge their own visa application under the Employer Nomination Scheme to the Department of Home Affairs.

This application involves providing detailed supporting evidence, including:

  • Skills Assessments confirming suitability for the nominated occupation.
  • Proof of employment with nominating employer for 2-3 years.
  • English language assessments like IELTS or PTE proving functional level ability.
  • Police/health checks and character assessments.

Both the employer and applicant work closely to ensure all requirements are fully met through each stage to give the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa application the highest chance of success.

Visa Conditions & Obligations

Those who successfully obtain a subclass 186 employee-sponsored permanent residence visa through this scheme do receive extensive rights and privileges to live/work permanently in Australia.

However, some key conditions and obligations apply upon being granted the visa:

  • Continued Employment: Visa holders must continue working for their approved nominating employer for at least the first 2 years after the visa is issued. This ensures positions are filled as intended.
  • Address Notifications: Any changes of residential address while holding the visa must be updated with the Department of Home Affairs within 14 days to track migrant movements.
  • Employment Breaks: Visa holders cannot cease employment with their approving sponsor for more than a total of 60 days in the first two years, except in exceptional compassionate circumstances. Doing so risks cancellation of visa status.

Additional conditions may be added around geographic work location, performance reporting requirements or training. All visa holders should carefully review their full obligations upon receiving an approved subclass 186 visa.

Upholding these visa conditions and program obligations is essential during the initial years after being granted permanent residency to avoid jeopardising this hard-won migration status.

Benefits & Privileges

Those granted permanent resident status through the subclass 186 employer-sponsored visa enjoy considerable rights and privileges in Australia either immediately or after completing their initial obligated period with their sponsoring employer:

  • Permanent Resident Status: This is granted not only to the primary visa holder but also to any eligible dependents/partners and children included in the application.
  • Full Work Rights: After the initial two years working for the sponsoring employer, the visa holder has an unfettered right to work in any job or position in Australia.
  • Education Rights: Children of 186 visa holders can access subsidized schooling and tertiary education on the same basis as Australian citizens.
  • Social Security Access: 186 visa holders gain access to social security benefits like Medicare, Centrelink and government retirement funds.
  • Australian Citizenship: Meeting standard residency requirements allows 186 visa holders to apply for Australian citizenship 1-3 years after visa grant.

For skilled overseas workers who have secured a full-time position with an Australian employer struggling to fill that role locally, the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) represents an excellent pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

It provides qualifying foreign nationals currently working for Australian businesses a chance to continue living/working here permanently. Ultimately, both the sponsoring employer and the migrant worker obtain significant benefits from this program designed explicitly to facilitate employer sponsorship.

With strict eligibility criteria around skills, language, experience and employment, it develops this highly valued source of global expertise for the longer-term needs of Australian industry.


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