Employer Sponsored Visas

The employersponsored visa allows Australian employers to sponsor specific skilled labour to serve their business needs. It also allows skilled labour of a foreign country to explore their employment options with Australian employers, in case they may need their skills.

Employer-Sponsored Visa Options

Temporary Work Skilled (Subclass 482)

A temporary Skill Shortage visa is a temporary employer sponsored visa that allows employers to address labour shortages by employing overseas qualified or skilled workers where they cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian worker. The TSS visa is a temporary visa which has pathways to permanent residence, though this is dependent on a number of factors including the occupation, age, or salary.

Target Market
  • Established businesses in Australia
  • Established business overseas seeking to enter Australia
  • Employees with job offers from companies
Visa applicant requirements
  • Qualifications that match the role
  • At least 2 years of experience in the position
  • Genuine intention to work in the nominated position
  • Mandatory licensing, registration or professional membership requirements
  • Adequate arrangements for health insurance
  • Health, character and English requirements
Company requirements
  • Actively and lawfully operating in Australia or
  • Actively and lawfully operating overseas but requiring the visa applicant to establish an Australian business or fulfill contractual obligations
Position requirements
  • A genuine, full time position
  • In the sponsor’s business (or that of an associated entity)
  • A salary in line with market rates
  • Subject to Labour Market Testing (LMT)
  • On the relevant occupation listsEmplyer 

Employer Nomination Scheme Visa (Subclass 186)

Employer Nomination visa enables skilled workers, who are nominated by their Australian employers to live and work in Australia permanently.

Subclass 186 visa allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign skilled workers for permanent residency in limited occupations. There are 3 different streams and each stream has their own criteria with respect to a range of factors, such as occupations, professional experience and minimum salary.

  • Labour Agreement stream: Limited employers may negotiate and arrange bilateral agreements with the Department.
  • Temporary Residence Transition stream: Certain subclass 457 or 482 visa holders may qualify for transition.
  • Direct Entry steam: Applicants with a prescribed period of work experience in an eligible occupation may be eligible to apply directly.

As Subclass 186 is an employer sponsored visa, only foreign nationals who are employed and nominated in an eligible occupation by an approved Australian employer sponsor may apply. The costs of the sponsorship approval and nomination application must be borne by the employer.

Labour Agreement Stream

For the purpose of this stream, a labour agreement refers to a bilateral agreement between the Department and a reputable Australian business to sponsor foreign workers via streamlined procedures. These agreements are not entered into lightly by the Government as most employers will not be eligible for a labour agreement. There must be a legitimate need to address labour shortage affecting specific industries or regions. Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) operates through a labour agreement.

If a labour agreement is issued to the sponsoring employer, the applicable nomination criteria varies from the other streams as each labour agreement may permit concessional terms as negotiated.

Common Criteria

Applicants in the streams of transition and direct entry must satisfy the following:

  • Applicant holds the necessary licences, registration and memberships;
  • The position is subject to nomination and the applicant is nominated by a employer approved as a standard business sponsor;
  • The employment contract must provide employment for at least 2 years and not forbid the continuance after the 2-year period;
  • Applicant has not provided a benefit to the employer in exchange for the nomination in the last 3 years, pursuant to subsections 245AR(1), 245AS(1), 245AT(1) or 245AU(1) of the Migration Act;
  • Applicant must be less than 45 years old (exemptions may apply);
  • Applicant must have at least competent English (exemptions may apply).

​Eligible Occupations

Applicants in the streams of transition and direct entry must have eligible occupations to qualify for Subclass 186 visas. The list of eligible occupations is available on the page – https://www.visaplan.com.au/post/mltssl-medium-and-long-term-strategic-skills-list

Holders of Subclass 457 visas as a result of a visa application lodged before 18 April 2017, may apply for a Subclass 186 visa. This would be under the temporary residence transition stream, with the occupation nominated for the Subclass 457 visa. In effect, the eligible occupations do not apply in this circumstance.

Age Limitations

Applicants aged 45 and over are generally ineligible for a Subclass 186 visa. A number of exemptions may apply in limited circumstances.

For the Direct Entry stream, the age exemption applies to:

  • Researchers, scientists and technical specialists nominated by a scientific agency of the Australian Government;
  • Senior academics nominated by an Australian university;
  • Subclass 444 or 461 visa holders who have worked for the nominating employer for 2 of the last 3 years.

For the Transition stream, the age exemption applies to:

  • Researchers, scientists and technical specialists nominated by a scientific agency of the Australian Government;
  • Senior academics nominated by an Australian university;
  • High income earners according to the Fair Work High Income Threshold;
  • Regional medical practitioner exemption;
  • The age limit of 49 applies if the applicant holds a current Subclass 457 visa which was applied before 18 April 2017.

Temporary Residence Transition Stream

Applicants who currently hold either subclasses 457 and 482 visas, may transition to Subclass 186 visas after a period between 2 and 3 years of nominated employment has lapsed. For most applicants, the requisite duration of employment is 3 years. In some cases, applicants who hold Subclass 457 visas applied for before 18 April 2017 may apply after only 2 of employment. 

Fair Work High Income Threshold

Applicants, who have worked for the nominating employer for at least 3 years and, for each of the 3 years, have earned above the high income threshold set by the Fair Work, are eligible to apply for Subclass 186 visas regardless of their age. This exemption is only available for the transition stream.

The threshold is indexed and varied annually as of 1 July. It is currently $148,700.

Regional Medical Practitioner

The age exemption applies to licenced medical practitioners in the transition stream where:

  • They have been employed as medical practitioners for the last 3 years;
  • They had held Subclass 457 or 482 visas for the 3-year period;
  • They were employed in regional Australia for at least 2 of the 3 years; and
  • The position nominated for Subclass 186 visas is located in regional Australia.

Direct Entry Stream

Direct entry allows qualified applicants with significant occupational experience to apply for immediate permanent residency without transition via another temporary employment visa. Applicants in this stream require a greater duration of occupational experience and a formal skills assessment.

Skills Assessment

All eligible occupations are assigned a skills assessment authority. Each assessor has different policies, procedures and prerequisites. On the basis of the evidence provided to the assessor, they will determine whether you meet the skill and education threshold for your occupation and period of valid work experience that can be claimed to the Department. Work experience without evidence will usually be disregarded by the assessor. Furthermore, in the event of the requisite formal qualification, only the work experience accrued after its completion will be counted.

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 494)

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa is a temporary employer sponsored visa that allows you and your family to live in Australia and work in ‘regional Australia’.

ubclass 494 visa (often referred to as “SESR visa”) is a temporary visa that allows the visa holder to enter and stay in Australia for a period of 5 years from the visa grant. It is also provisional with an avenue to permanent residency, that is a Subclass 191 visa.

SESR visa is designed to respond to labour shortages in regional Australia. It provides concessions to regional employers to recruit skilled overseas workers who are willing to live and work in the region on an ongoing basis. The visa can only be used if the employer is genuinely unable to source appropriately skilled Australian workers. 

494 Visa Entitlements

In summary, holders of SESR visas:

  • Must work for the approved sponsor in the approved occupation;
  • Must live and work (and, if relevant, study) only in a designated regional area;
  • Can bring eligible dependents with them to Australia. If those dependants satisfy the secondary criteria dependants can work and study (but must live, work and study only in a designated regional area);
  • Can travel in and out of Australia while the visa is valid.

494 Visa Streams

There are 2 streams under this SESR visa program:

  • Employer Sponsored stream for employers in regional Australia to recruit skilled overseas workers to work in specified skilled occupations for 5 years. Visa holders become eligible to apply for permanent residence after 3 years; 
  • Labour Agreement stream for employers in regional Australia who have a labour agreement with the Commonwealth to source skilled overseas workers to work. Applicant’s occupation must be specified in the labour agreement and the visa lasts for 5 years. Visa holders become eligible to apply for permanent residence after 3 years.

494 Visa Stages

There are 3 stages in sponsoring an overseas worker under this visa program:

  • 494 Sponsorship: The employer applies for approval as a standard business sponsor (SBS) or seeks to enter into a labour agreement with the Commonwealth. The SBS class is the same class of sponsor as used for the TSS visa program, and Australian businesses that are already approved as SBSs do not need to apply again.
  • 494 Nomination: The employer, or sponsor, nominates an occupation for a prospective visa applicant or an existing visa holder. Decision makers are generally satisfied that the position is genuine if the related nomination is approved. However, further assessment may be warranted if adverse information about the sponsor or the visa applicant becomes available after the approval of the nomination. For example, information suggesting that the position has been created primarily to assist the visa applicant rather than to address a genuine business need.
  • 494 Visa application: The person identified in the nomination applies for a visa, in the stream (either the Employer Sponsored stream or Labour Agreement stream) that was identified in the nomination.
  • The 3 stages identified above can be initiated at the same time. For example, an online application to be an SBS can be immediately followed by an online nomination. The online nomination can be immediately followed by an online visa application. The approval process then cascades in the same way. The nomination cannot be approved unless the sponsorship has been approved, and the visa cannot be granted unless the nomination has been approved.
  • The visa holders who continue to work in their nominated occupation can change employer on the basis of a new nomination by the new employer (SBS or employer with a labour agreement). However, they cannot change their employer before a nomination by the new employer is approved, unless they are in a specified occupation.
  • If an existing visa holder wishes to change their occupation, they must apply for and be granted a new Subclass 494 visa. It is not permitted to change occupations, even if remaining with the same employer, without first obtaining a new visa (which also requires a new nomination). This is to ensure that overseas workers are thoroughly assessed in relation to the new occupation before they work in this occupation in Australia – see: Visa Condition 8608 – Approved Work Only.

Eligibility Criteria

The primary criteria must be satisfied by at least 1 member of a family unit. The other members of the family unit who are applicants for a visa of this subclass need satisfy only the secondary criteria. Furthermore, all criteria must be satisfied at the time a decision is made on the application.


The applicant must have been under 45 or be a person in any of the five categories of applicants specified in a legislative instrument, namely:

  • Academic applicants
  • Regional medical practitioner applicants
  • Science applicants
  • Subclass 444 / 461 workers
  • Subclass 457 / 482 workers

Skills Assessment

At the time of application, the applicant must:

  • Have had their skills assessed as suitable for the nominated occupation by the relevant assessing authority; or
  • Have previously had their skills assessed as suitable for the nominated occupation by the relevant assessing authority in order to be granted a subclass 457 or TSS visa; or
  • Be a person in either of the 2 categories of applicants specified in a legislative instrument, namely: academic applicants, or subclass 444/ 461 workers.

Employment History

At the time of application, the applicant must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least 3 years, on a full-time basis, and at the level of skill required for the occupation, or be a person in either of the 2 categories of applicants specified in a legislative instrument, namely academic applicants, or subclass 444/ 461 workers.

  • The employment period does not need to be continuous and does not need to have been immediately before the application was made. 
  • Any period of employment during which an applicant changed careers (gained employment in another occupation), was unemployed, or took extended leave without pay should be excluded when calculating the period of employment.
  • Unpaid and volunteer work cannot be counted as employment experience.
  • Decision makers may consider work undertaken as a part-time employee that is equivalent to 3 years full-time, where they are confident that the applicant’s experience and skills are relevant and current.
  • Casual employment, which is not undertaken on a full-time basis, should not be counted towards meeting the employment experience requirement.
  • Consistent with the National Employment Standards (NES), employment will be considered ‘full-time’ where the visa applicant worked 38 hours per week. Employment experience will, however, also be considered ‘full-time’ where the visa applicant worked for a period between 32 and 45 hours per week under an industry award or an agreement that was consistent with the NES, where applicable.

English Proficiency

At the time of application, the applicant must have had competent English or circumstances specified in a legislative instrument existed. There are no English language exemptions.


The same definition applies as per the definition used in the assessment of the Annual Market Salary Rate requirements at nomination stage. Earnings include:

  • Wages, including allowances such as a living away from home allowance and other allowances packaged under salary packaging arrangements;
  • Any amounts applied or dealt with in any way on the employee’s behalf or as the employee directs; and
  • The agreed money value of non-monetary benefits, for example, the value agreed between nominator and the employee of a motor vehicle provided for private use.

Amounts not included or permitted are:

  • Payments the amount of which cannot be determined in advance
  • Reimbursements of expenses incurred
  • The nominator’s statutorily required contribution to superannuation, and
  • Contingent payments such as overtime, commissions and bonuses.

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