Employer Sponsored Visas

Employer Sponsored Visas


Employer sponsored visas include both temporary and permanent visa options. The permanent employer sponsored visas constitute the second major component of the Skilled Stream of Australia’s migration program.


This group of visas is designed to respond to the needs of Australia’s employers by enabling them to recruit and nominate skilled people to fill positions that they have not been able to fill from the local labour market or through their own staff training. The employer sponsored migration program has four categories:


(a) Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) – subclasses 121 and 856

(b) Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) – subclasses 119 and 857

(c) Labour Agreements (LA) – subclasses 120 and 855

(d) Business (Long Stay) – subclass 457


Of the temporary employer sponsored visas, the most commonly used is the Business (Long Stay) visa subclass 457. This is the major temporary working visa under which Australian employers can recruit professional and other skilled workers for a period of up to four years (extendable).


ENS Visa Application (subclass 856/121)


Once a position is approved under ENS or RSMS, it is valid for 6 months, during which time an application for a visa must be lodged (if it is not lodged already).


Generally for applications under ENS (subclass 121 or subclass 856), unless the appointment is an exceptional appointment, the visa applicant must be under 45 years of age and have at least vocational English.


The onshore subclass 856 visa and the offshore subclass 121 visa criteria are identical. The first obvious difference is that the applicant must be offshore at the time of decision for the subclass 121 visa.


The second major difference is that the onshore subclass 856 offers three separate pathways for residence, while the offshore subclass 121 visa only offers two.


Regional ENS Visa Application (subclass 857/119)


As is common for many regional visa subclass variants, the requirements for these visas are less than that required for the subclass 856/121 visas, as follows:


  • The applicant is under 45 years of age;
  • Has functional English (unless the position is exceptional); and
  • Holds a relevant diploma (unless the position is exceptional).



Business (Long Stay) – subclass 457

The most common type of subclass 457 visa application is one that comes under a Standard Business Sponsorship. Applying for this type of subclass 457 visa involves 3 steps:


1. The sponsoring company applies for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor (SBS)


2. The sponsoring company applies for approval of the nominated position


3. The prospective employee applies for a subclass 457 visa.


Once it is approved, the SBS is valid for two years and any number of positions can be nominated as part of that SBS. The sponsor has a number of obligations that must be met and  there are severe sanctions if these obligations are not met.


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