186 Visa – Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)


Australian businesses of all sizes are increasingly experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. If you are an employer, and unable to find a suitable Australian person to fill a position, you may be able to sponsor a highly skilled person from overseas.


Minimum 3 months – Maximum 4 years

How it works

As an Employer

First the employer must apply for approval as a standard business sponsor and nominate the position(s) to be undertaken in Australia by the overseas worker. That means that the sponsor has to show that they are operating a lawful, reputable business in Australia, the sponsorship is of benefit to Australia and that they will be the direct employer of the applicant.

To nominate a position there must be a need for a paid overseas employee in a full-time position and the position must be on the list of approved occupations. This list is quite broad and includes trades people and professionals. The employer has to specify the kind of tasks the employee will need to perform and what experience and skills are required. The employer must also show that they will pay the employee the minimum salary specified by the government for migration purposes. They also have to accept certain obligations towards the employee including providing acceptable working conditions.

The overseas employee then applies for a visa to fill the nominated position. The employee must show that they possess the training, qualifications and experience which are necessary to fill the position. The employee will need to produce their qualifications and employment references and may be required to undergo a skills assessment.

You can sponsor overseas employees on a temporary term (from 3 months to 4 years) or for permanent residency. Although the requirements for a permanent visa are very similar, they are more stringent than for the temporary visa. For example for a permanent visa the applicant must be under 45 years this is not necessary if you apply for a temporary visa.

General Requirements

The 186 visa has three main streams.

Firstly, the Direct Entry Stream is for applicants nominated by an Australian employer, who have the necessary skills for an occupation found on the relevant skilled occupation list and have at least three years of relevant work experience.

The second stream is the Labour Agreement Stream is for applicants sponsored by an employer who has a labour agreement.

The third stream is the Temporary Residence Transition which is for 457/TSS holders who have worked with their nominating employer full-time for at least three years before being nominated for this visa and formally qualified in the relevant occupation.


186 visa conditions

If approved, a Subclass 186 visa will allow you to stay in Australia indefinitely to work and study. Subclass 186 visa will enable you to enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme, Medicare. You are also eligible to sponsor family members to join you in Australia. Once granted, this visa allows you to travel to and from Australia for up to five years. Please note, if you wish to travel after the five years, a Resident Return Visa will need to be applied to re-enter Australia as a permanent resident. The residency Return visa can be easily applied with the help of a migration agent. Click here to book a free consultation to see how we can assist you. Once you satisfy the residency requirements, you may be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.


186 visa checklist

Direct Entry – For employers

Each application will require the applicant’s employment contract, proof your business is actively and lawfully operating, letter of support from the accountant of your company and a current lease agreement. You will be required to show either an audited balance sheet and profit and loss statement for the last two financial years or business tax returns, and associated tax assessment notices for the previous fiscal year. Other evidence may include proof you have a genuine need for a paid employee, detailed organization structure chart, detailed position description including specified tasks and duties of the position.


You may also provide:

Evidence that the position is currently occupied by a temporary resident, proof of an increase in activity, appropriate market research, business plans detailing proposed expansion and timelines. Documentation to prove you will pay the annual market salary rate.


Please see below the required list for applicants;

  • Identity documents
    • A national ID card (if applicable
    • Marriage certificate
    • Passport
    • Birth certificate
  • Licencing, registration or membership
    • Provide evidence of any licence, registration or professional affiliation mandatory to perform the nominated occupation.
  • Skills and qualification documents
    • Documents that prove your skills and qualifications, this can be certificates, diplomas.
  • English language documents
    • To prove you have competent English you must provide evidence that you have obtained the following English Language test results: IELTS – at least 6 for each of the four components; PTE – at least 50 for each of the four components
    • The test must be within three years before the date of application.
  • Health documents
  • Character documents
    • Australian police certificate (If you have spent a total of 12 months or more in Australia in the recent ten years since you turned 16).
    • Overseas police certificate from every country, including your home country, where you spent a total of 12 months or more in the last ten years since you turned 16.
  • Partner documents
      • If you are in a relationship, provide their identity documents, character documents, marriage certificate/or enough documents to prove your partner has been in a de facto relationship with you for at least 12 months before you apply. To determine whether you qualify for a de facto relationship, you must provide evidence such as joint bank account statements, joint leases, documents that show you have both lived at the same address.
    • Must also provide evidence that they have functional English.


Temporary Residence Transition Stream

You must have relevant work experience – the employer must have sponsored you to work full time on your 482 visa or subclass 457 for at least three of the four years before nominating you for the 186 visa. It would be best if you were appointed by the employer who sponsored your temporary work visa.


186 visa obligations

  • You and your family members must obey all Australian laws.
  • You agree to begin your employment within six months of entering Australia if granted the visa outside Australia. The visa grant date if we granted you the visa in Australia
  • From the time the visa is granted, you can travel to and from Australia for up to 5 years. After this period, you will need a Resident Return Visa to re-enter as a permanent resident.


186 visa English requirements

  • To prove you have competent English you must provide evidence that you have obtained the following English Language test results: IELTS – at least 6 for each of the four components; PTE – at least 50 for each of the four parts. The test must be within three years before the date of application.


186 visa conditions after granted

If you are outside of Australia when granting the visa, you must first enter Australia before the date specified by the Minister. You must also not marry or enter into a de facto relationship before entering Australia.


186 visa processing time

Processing times can vary and may fluctuate based on the application numbers. 75% of applications for the direct entry stream are processed within five months, and 90% of applications within six months.

Temporary residence transition stream – 75% of applications are processed six months; 90% of applications are processed within nine months.


186 visa processing time after nomination approval


The Department of Home Affairs assesses each application on a case-by-case basis, and the processing times can change due to individual circumstances, including but are not limited to:

  • how quickly you reply to any requests for further information
  • the time it takes to perform necessary checks on the supporting information provided
  • for permanent migration visa applications, the number of places is available in the migration programme
  • for citizenship applications, the time taken to attend a Citizenship Ceremony or receive a Citizenship Certificate.
  • how long it takes to receive additional information from external agencies, particularly concerning health, character, and national security requirements

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