Skills requisites on employer sponsored visas

If your trek toward permanent residency in Australia goes down the employer sponsored path, this is would be your map.
Visa 186 & 187 chart

There are three streams under permanent employer sponsored visas (subclass 186 and 187):

  1. Temporary Residence Transition (you’ve completed 2 years on a 457)
  2. Direct Entry stream
  3. Agreement stream (labour agreement)

The direct entry and agreement streams seem like a pretty good deals, a shortcut through the visa maze, but gaining sponsorship via a labour agreement isn’t all that common. Labour agreements apply only under very specific circumstances. Lets also rule out chasing a regional sponsored migration scheme (RSMS) 187 visas, because those have a regional restriction, and we’re going for the least thorny path here – the direct entry stream ENS 186 visa.

But qualifying for that coveted direct entry ENS 186 visa is more than dazzling at your interview and having a company willing to sponsor you directly (unlike the 457 visa, the 186 visa has no attached conditions on your staying with the company).

What you really need to ask is, are you skilled enough? Because that tempting direct entry 186 visa has tougher skill requisites than that of a 457 and 187 visa:


457 visa
Direct Stream RSMS 187 visa
Direct Stream ENS 186 visa
Meet the skills level *
Meet the skills level  **
  • 3 years relevant work experience
  • Positive skills assessment

* Trade occupations, Project and Program Administrator and Specialist Managers will need to fulfil a skills assessment
** Occupations listed here need skills assessments where the applicant has no relevant Australian qualifications

It gets a little complicated we admit, as the ANZSCO skill level requirements are wholly separate to skill assessment requirements .


What is “skill level”?

Different occupations have different skill level requirements as defined by ANZSCO. The toughest skill level to meet is skill level 1, which is satisfied with a relevant bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, or 5 years work experience with no qualifications.  How do I find out what my occupation’s skill level is?There is no list for this, unfortunately, so you will need to search “ANZSCO” + “Occupation” + “Skill Level” and visit the search result from .

From the abs website. We use this as an example later

How do I get a “positive skills assessment”?

Skills assessments are specific to each occupation and are carried out by third party assessing authorities. Skills assessments tend to require a higher qualification and years of work experience, and can even have a higher minimum English level (compared to the employer sponsored visa requirement of competent), very detailed work evidence and more. To see what it takes to gain a positive skills you will need to look at the  consolidated sponsored occupation list (CSOL)  to check on the relevant assessing authority, and then visit that authority’s website for further details.

ANZSCO skill level requirements for the 457 and direct stream RSMS 187 visas are more generic and a cakewalk to fulfill as compared to the 3 years relevant work requirement and occupation-specific skills assessments. A fresh graduate holding a bachelor’s in architecture (occupation skill level 1) would qualify for a 457 or direct stream RSMS 187 visa, but would not fulfill the 3 year work requirement on the direct stream ENS 186 visa (and probably not gain a positive skills assessment).

On the premise that you’ve found yourself a willing and eligible sponsor, you still have to ask, do you have what it takes?