I want to make a 186 / ENS Visa Application – Can I do it now that the TSS Visa has replaced the 457?

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because:

  1. You hold a 457 visa, and
  2. You want to get your permanent residency as a priority, but
  3. Now that the Department has axed the 457 scheme, you don’t know where you stand.

Sound about right? Read on. This article is for you.

Starting at the beginning

Until recently, all 457 visa holders had the ability to transition to a permanent subclass 186 visa (under the 457 ‘Transition Stream’ (TRT)), provided (at a basic level) that:

  • They had worked in the position for two of the past three years, and
  • Their employer is willing to nominate them for the visa.

For the purposes of this article, we call this the ‘legacy arrangements’.

As a matter of course, this was a pretty standard pathway for workers to take, and it provided them certainty that they were working towards a permanent life in Australia.

The first important date

On 19 April 2017, the Government announced its intention to change the rules of employer-sponsored visas completely. Relevantly, the 457 visa was to be abolished (effective March 2018), skills lists changed and pathways to permanency removed for some 457 holders.

You can read our articles on these changes, and their impact on 457 holders and employers (respectively) here and here.

If you held, or had lodged an application for, a 457 visa prior to the announcement on 18 April 2017 – you’re in the clear. You can access the legacy arrangements to make an application for the subclass 186 now, or even in the future, provided you meet the ‘legacy’ requirements.

That’s the good news.

Post-18 April 2017

If you fall into the cohort of applicants whose lodgement date fell after 18 April 2017, it gets a bit more complicated. The major factor in your eligibility will be your occupation.

Whereas previously, all you needed to be eligible for a subclass 186 (under the TRT or Direct Entry streams) was an occupation that appeared on a relevant skilled occupation list.

However, since 18 March 2018, the requirement has tightened up to require that applicants be employed in an occupation code that appears on the Medium-Long-Term Skilled Occupation List (MLTSSL) only.

This means that if your occupation is not on the MLTSSL and you:

  • Had not applied for your 457 visa prior to 19 April 2017, you can no longer transition to PR via the subclass 186 visa (TRT stream); and
  • Had not lodged your 186 (Direct Entry Stream) prior to 18 March 2018, you can no longer apply for this visa.

Unfortunately, this is going to hit a lot of applicants hard – especially those who are already in Australia on student visas, and would now need to change occupations in order to be eligible for a 186 in the future.


What can I do now?

If you do not fall within the transitional provisions, that door has slammed shut. However, don’t lose hope – there is a good chance you will still have other visas options (e.g. through the skilled subclasses, 190, 489 or the RSMS/187 visa subclass).

Bear in mind that everybody’s circumstances are different. If you want to get an assessment from us as to your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.