Getting a Work Visa in Australia

Workers in Australia are paid higher than the global average salary rate, according to the OECD Better Life Index (source:  Along with offering high salary rates, fair work practices and provision of employment benefits such as super annuation, Australia is no doubt the top destination for foreign jobseekers.

Not many people (including potential employers and jobseekers) find correct information in many sources about employment sponsorship and work visa applications in Australia.

This article intends to give an overview of the available employer sponsored visa options in Australia, their key requirements (for the employers and jobseekers), the costs involved, and their processing lead times.


Employer Sponsored Visa Subclasses

Currently, there are four available employer sponsored visas in Australia.  These are the TSS 482 visa, ENS 186 (Direct Entry stream), ENS 186 (Transition stream), and the newest visa type– SESR 494 visa (this is the replacement of the RSMS 187 visa).

The ENS 186 (both streams) is a Permanent Residency (PR) visa. ENS 186 visa holders are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship when they satisfy the residency requirements and the rest of the citizenship criteria.

The TSS 482 visa is a temporary visa which lets the visa holders stay in Australia between one to four years depending on the visa holders’ occupation and employment contract duration. The SESR 494 visa is also a temporary visa that lets visa holders stay in Australia for five years.  Both these visas can have a pathway for PR depending on the visa holders’ occupation, age, their employers’ willingness to sponsor them on a PR visa, and the visa holders’ ability to satisfy the rest of the PR visa criteria.


Key requirements for the jobseekers

There are specific criteria for each of these visa subclasses (482, 186, and 494).  I have listed some of the common requirements:

  1. The visa applicant should have been offered a sponsorship for a full-time position on an occupation that is listed on the appropriate skills occupation list.  Note that there are different skills list applicable to each employer sponsored visa subclass and some occupations have additional requirements.
  2. For the ENS 186 visa and SESR 494 visa, it is required that the visa applicant has at least three years of full-time work experience and two years full-time work experience for the TSS 482 visa.  The work experience should be in an occupation or highly related field.  Only the work experience accumulated after the visa applicant has completed the required qualification for his/her occupation will be considered in counting for the two- or three-year work experience requirement.
  3. Other requirements include age (the visa applicant should be below 45 years of age when applying for these visas unless exemptions apply), English language capability (different English test score requirements per visa subclass), skills assessment (on select occupations for TSS 482 visa, for ENS 186 Direct Entry stream, and for SESR 494 visa), and health and character requirements.


Key requirements for the employers

Different sponsorship or nomination criteria apply for each employer sponsored visa subclass.  However, there are common criteria that apply to all these subclasses which include:

  • Employers/Sponsors should have a legally operating business and can justify their financial ability to sustain the employment of the nominee.
  • The salary of the nominee should be at least $53,900 and should be within the annual market salary rate for the nominated occupation.
  • There is a genuine need for the nominated occupation.
  • There is no adverse information about the sponsor/employer that can affect their application.
  • The salary of the nominee should not be less favourable than the equivalent Australian citizen or Australian PR worker in the same company in the same work location.


Costs and Processing lead times

The costs involved in applying for employer sponsored visas varies per visa subclass and can include the following:

  • Sponsorship fee of $420.  This is for TSS 482 and SESR 494.
  • Nomination fee of $330 for TSS 482 and $540 for ENS 186.
  • SAF levy.  The SAF levy fee will depend on the employer’s annual revenue and the visa subclass.  For annual revenue below $10M, the SAF levy is $3,000(one off payment) for ENS 186 and  $1,200(yearly payment) for TSS 482.  For annual revenue above $10M, the SAF levy for ENS 186 is $5,000(one off payment) and $1,800(yearly payment) for TSS 482.
  • Visa fee. The visa fee will depend on the visa subclass and the nominated occupation and whether it is for the primary applicant or dependents.  The visa pricing can range approximately from $320(dependent child under 18 years old for a TSS 482 visa) to $4,045(primary applicant for ENS 186 and SESR 494 visa).
  • Skills assessment fee.  The fee will depend on the nominated occupation and skills assessing body which can cost approximately between $500 to $4,000. This is required for ENS 186 DE, SESR 494 and for some occupations on TSS 482.
  • Application Assistance fee if the sponsor or visa applicant is appointing a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer for their application.


The processing time for these visas will depend on each subclass, the steps required for each visa type, and the volume of applications that the Department of Home Affairs receive.  The TSS 482 application has three steps (sponsorship, nomination, and visa application) while the ENS 186 application only has two steps (nomination and visa application).   The TSS 482 visa takes about four to five months to process and about six to nine months for the ENS 186 visa based on the current processing lead time (published on the 27th of August 2020 on the Department’s website).

In summary, there are many specific requirements and steps in applying for employer sponsored visas and it is recommended to get advice or assistance from a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer on these matters.