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How to Get Permanent Residency for Your Employees Before March 2018

Written by Binfeng Zhang

As a business owner, one of the most disappointing things is losing an extremely talented foreign employee due to changes to the immigration policy. This happened to numerous employers over the past 12 months due to the rapid changes, and visa holders simply ran out of options. This article will outline an employer-sponsored option for employees who are on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List so that you hopefully will not lose them come March 2018.

In a previous article Simplifying 457 Visa for Businesses, I mentioned the introduction of two new skilled occupation list for employer-sponsored visas. These being the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skilled List (MLTSSL) and their effects on obtaining Australian permanent residency through an Australian employer.

In April 2017 the Department of Home Affairs (previously the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and now DOHA) announced upcoming changes to the employer-sponsored program. It indicated that come March 2018, only those with occupations listed on the MLTSSL would be eligible to apply for Permanent Residency through the Subclass 186 or 187 visa.

Previously, applicants could be sponsored by an Australian employer on a Subclass 186 or 187 visa through two main pathways:

  1. Temporary Resident Transition (TRT) Stream – for those who currently hold a 457 visa and have been with the same employer for at least two years.
  2. Direct Entry (DE) Stream – for those who do not hold a 457 visa but ideally have at least 3 years of relevant experience.

DOHA released a statement in December 2017 reassuring Subclass 457 visa holders who were granted their visa before April 2017, that they would still be eligible for permanent residency under the TRT stream after two years of working with the same employer, irrespective of which list their occupation came under. This still does not provide a remedy for 457 visa holders who were granted their visa after April 2017 or do not currently hold such a visa.

The Subclass 186 Employer Nomination and Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are two visas which give you permanent residency directly. The main difference between the 186 and 187 visa is that the latter requires you to work in a Regional Area of Australia, which generally means your business must be located outside of major cities, for example :Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle and Melbourne.

This article will only discuss the Direct Entry Stream as it will only be available under the current rules for another 2 months.

Does my business qualify?

Employer-sponsored visas are made up of two parties – the employee (Nominee) and the employing business (Nominator). This article will focus on the Nominator. The main requirements the business must meet are:

12-month operations

Ideally the business must have been operating for 12 months.


There is no set minimum revenue requirement, however, some occupations will stipulate minimum requirements.

Market rate salary

The employee being sponsored must be paid at the market rate for their experience and position.

Advertising the Position

Advertise the position for at least one month to allow Australian Permanent Residents and Citizens an equal opportunity to fulfil the role. The job advertisement does not have to be paid.

Training (Subclass 186 Visa ONLY)

The business must demonstrate it is providing ongoing training for staff who are Australian permanent residents or citizens. The total monetary value of this training must be equal to at least 1% of your total payroll. There are other options to satisfy this requirement.

Occupation Lists

The Subclass 186 and 187 visa each have their own occupation lists, with the latter having more occupations available. Occupations must be listed on either of the lists and after March 2018 the occupation must be on the MLTSSL.

Additionally, there are things called CAVEATS for certain occupations, which are additional requirements imposed on either the sponsor or employee. Caveats currently do not apply for applicants applying for the Subclass 187 visa. For example, a Marketing Specialist has the following additional requirements:

  • Salary of AUD 65,000
  • Business turnover of at least AUD 1 million
  • Must not be a front-line retail position

If you would like to know some of the commonly used hacks in this industry then refer to a previous article Simplifying 457 Visa for Businesses.

Next Steps

It’s as simple as 2-3 steps:

  1. Obtain approval from a Regional Certifying Body (RCB) (applies to Subclass 187 visa ONLY)
  2. Have your Contract for Employment approved (Nomination)
  3. Employee applies for the 186 or 187 visa

The information detailed above only describes some of the criteria and differences between the Subclass 186 and 187 visa. Additionally, employer sponsorship is only one pathway to Permanent Residency and there are many other pathways potentially available to your employees.

If you would like information specific to your situation, please feel free to contact us on or (02) 8880 0210.

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Binfeng Zhang

Binfeng Zhang is a Director of Affinity Migration Group and a Registered Migration Agent. His strength is in helping SME with employer sponsored visas, skilled migration visas, business investor visas and overcoming challenges in small businesses.