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Subclass 186 Permanent Visa: an overview

If you have skills, Australian employers need you.

If you’d like to live in a country with the most amazing beaches, an outdoor lifestyle, incredible weather, a healthy work life balance and, in my opinion, the best coffee in the world, COVID might have just given you the opportunity you’ve been waiting for…

Depending on your perspective, it is arguable that Australia had one of the most successful COVID responses in the world. However, that also necessitated some of the harshest restrictions in the world. Those restrictions resulted in the prevention of a significant number of deaths both as a direct and as an indirect cause of the virus.

However, it also resulted in over half a million temporary visa holders leaving Australia. That’s actually quite staggering, especially for a country that already suffers a deficit of local talent. As at November 2020, job vacancies reached 254,000 being the highest number in 10 years (the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, 2021). That situation only deteriorated as COVID progressed and has, not surprisingly, left Australia suffering significant skills shortages.

The Committee also stated that Australia needs to replace the skilled migrants that left its shores as a result of the pandemic and, if it doesn’t Australia’s economic recovery will be severely hampered.

That’s where you come in…

If you have skills, employers need you. Whilst there are various temporary employer sponsored visas out there (visas that require companies to become a ‘standard business sponsor’) there is also the employer nominated scheme visa, a subclass 186.

The subclass 186 is a permanent visa and, unlike employer sponsored visas, does not require the company to become a ‘standard business sponsor’. This has advantages for the employer, but most importantly it provides you/your employee, a permanent visa from the date of visa grant. As well as providing a more streamlined pathway to citizenship, it also gives access to Medicare and, if you have children, circumvents international school/student fees which are a significant and, often, prohibitive expense. Furthermore, the subclass 186 has more flexibility in terms of where you live/work and there is no requirement that the visa holder remain working for the nominating employer for any set period of time.

Whilst there are some additional hoops to jump through and requirements to meet, including a skills assessment and age restriction respectively, there are a wide range of occupations on the Skilled Occupation List eligible to apply for this visa and employers are ready, willing and able to hire from overseas.

One such example is the tech industry. Not only has the pandemic been a catalyst for technological innovation and digital transformation, but Australia has long suffered a deficit of specialist digital talent. Cybersecurity is at the top of the list of projected headcount growth, just below artificial intelligence (‘AI’) and automation/robotics.

In 2020, Randstad reported that the occupation ‘AI specialist’ was the number one occupation listed on LinkedIn’s fastest growing jobs list across the labour market in Australia; and that was before the full impact of the pandemic was felt. Now, resultant additional shortages make it almost impossible for tech employers to find talent that matches their needs.

However, ‘AI specialist’ is a fluffy term which can encompass a wide range of different skills, occupations and sub-niches including domain experts, DevOps engineers, educators, data scientists, cloud computing experts to name a few. A quick look at the skilled occupation list reflects this in the number of relevant occupations eligible for a subclass 186 visa, including:

  • Computer Network/Systems/Applications Engineer;
  • Developer Programmer;
  • ICT Security Specialist;
  • Analyst Programmer;
  • Software Developer/Architect;
  • Developer Programmer;
  • Software Engineer;
  • Software and Applications Programmers;
  • Communications Programmer;
  • Communications Programmer (Systems);
  • Database Developer; and
  • Network Programmer.

Even if you’re not in tech, don’t worry. Jump on the skilled occupation list here Skilled Occupation List and search your occupation. You’ll be able to see if you’re eligible to apply for a 186 visa by checking the list of visas next to your occupation. For example, if you type in ‘surgeon’…

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The following seven occupations were returned:

  • Cardiothoracic surgeon;
  • Neurosurgeon;
  • Orthopaedic surgeon;
  • Paediatric surgeon;
  • Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon;
  • Surgeon (General); and
  • Vascular Surgeon.

A quick review reveals all are occupations eligible for subclass 186 visas (as well as other types of visas), as can be seen here in the example of Cardiothoracic Surgeon:

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Plus, there’s another list; the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). With an emphasis on medical, engineering/mining, financial and emerging tech, this list has identified forty-four occupations that Australia considers critical in its recovery from the pandemic and which are applicable for subclass 186 employer nomination applications and visa applications. Applications against occupations on this list, will be processed as a priority. You can view the PMSOL here: PMSOL , but some occupations relevant to this article include Software and Applications Programmers, Software Engineer, Developer Programmer and Analysist Programmer.

So, what are you waiting for? The most amazing beaches, an outdoor lifestyle, incredible weather, a healthy work life balance and the best coffee in the world are waiting for you!
If you’re an individual or an employer who wants candid, bespoke and expert advice regarding your immigration options , reach out via my CONTACT page!

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