Clarity on the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) program

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), has provided further updates on the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS). These updates target 457 visa holders and those who had their 457’s being processed as of 18 April 2017.

The update confirms that such 457 visa holders and applicants will be able to apply for the ENS visa under the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream two years after working with the sponsoring employer on their 457.

Key points are:

  • Applicants must be under 50 years of age at the point of application.
  • Applicants must have worked in the role for the same employer in the same location for two years before applying. In satisfying this requirement, applicants are reminded that any period of unpaid leave is not included in this. If such time is accumulated, the timing of the lodgement will need to account for this.
  • Applicants are permitted to apply under the TRT stream regardless of whether changes are made to list of occupations available for 457 sponsorship.

These updates confirm that any new changes to the ENS program from March 2018 will have minimal impact on 457 visa holders and applicants as of 18 April 2017.

ENS applications lodged after March 2018 will be subject to the new training levy which replaces the current training requirement. This means businesses will not be required to demonstrate that they have either spent 1% of their payroll on training Australian employees or contribute 2% of payroll to an industry training fund. Instead, businesses will be required to:

  • contribute $5,000 to the training levy for those which have a turnover $10 million and above or
  • contribute $3,000 to the training levy for those which have a turnover less than $10 million.

At this stage, it is unclear whether the age exemptions for those over 50 will continue to apply under the ENS program. This exemption is where applicants over 50 can apply for the ENS visa once they have worked with the sponsoring company for four years and each year earned above the Fair Work high income threshold.

We are closely monitoring further releases and will have them available in due course.


Mark Dunphy

Mark is an employment lawyer experienced in litigious and non-litigious applications of employment and industrial relations law.

Kristopher Kunasingam

Kristopher leads the firm's migration practice. He specialises in employment-related migration to Australia.

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