When it comes to Australian permanent residency visas, the 186 visa and 187 RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa are similar in that both require employer sponsorship. However, there are several differences between the two and it’s advisable to carefully weigh these up or seek the advice of a Registered Migration Agent before choosing which to apply for.

You can read more about both visa types on our website, but here is a summary of the main differences.

Working in a regional area

One of the main differences between the 186 and 187 visas is that the 187 RSMS requires the applicant to live in a regional area. Regional areas do not include the Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Melbourne or Wollongong. All of Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are considered regional areas.

There are no geographical restrictions when it comes to the 186 visa.

187 RSMS applicants must remain in the designated regional area for two years after their visa grant.

Two application streams

The more commonly known stream is Temporary Resident Transition (TRT) 186 or 187 . Candidates who have worked for their current sponsor for two years on a 457 visa are eligible through this stream. If a candidate has changed jobs or changed sponsors on the 457 visa, or taken periods of unpaid leave, it’s advisable to consult with a Registered Migration Agent to discuss the specific circumstances.

Candidates may also be eligible for a Direct Entry (DE) 186 or 187 visa. A candidate does not need to hold a 457 visa to be eligible, as candidates holding a 417, student visas, visitor visa and even a Bridging Visa A (BVA) can apply, if eligible. Almost all candidates applying for a 186 DE must obtain a positive skill assessment and demonstrate at least three years of post-qualification work experience in the nominated occupation.

Regional Certification Body (RCB approval)

When an employer wishes to nominate an employee for a 187 RSMS (DE) visa they must seek approval from the Regional Certifying Body in their area. The RCB will assess whether there is a genuine requirement for the position.

If you use a Registered Migration Agent to manage your 187 RSMS application, they will generally handle this step of the process.

 Training benchmark

A major difference between the two visa types is that employers nominating an employee under the 187 RSMS Direct Entry stream are not required to meet the ‘training benchmark’.

Businesses can meet the training benchmark in two ways. They can spend equivalent to 1% of their payroll on training for Australian citizens and permanent residents or pay 2% of payroll into an approved industry training fund.

Employers sponsoring a candidate on a 186 visa or 187 through TRT are required to meet the training benchmark. This makes the 187 Direct Entry option a great choice for business that cannot meet the benchmark, but note that if the business holds (or has previously held) a Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS) to nominate 457 holders, Immigration make ask to see proof that prior training benchmarks were met.

Staying with your employer

With both the 186 and 187 visas, the nominated position must be available for at least two years. However, an employee sponsored on a 186 visa is under no obligation to remain with that employer. In contrast, a 187 visa holder is obliged (in most cases) to stay in the same position and remain with the same employer for two years. If the employer no longer has work available the 187 visa holder can work elsewhere, but must remain in the regional area for the first two years.

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Skill assessments

The 187 DE stream is also an attractive option because candidates in ANZSCO major group 1 and 2 occupations and non-trade group 3 occupations are not required to complete a skill assessment. Please note however, a formal qualification or work experience relevant to the role is still required. Candidates nominated in a trade occupation from ANZSCO major group 3 must either receive a positive skill assessment from the relevant assessing body or hold an Australian trade qualification, completed in Australia.

Other differences

Work experience requirements, nomination charges and English language requirements also vary between these visa types. The 187 occupation list also has dozens of occupations that are not available to 186 visa applicants. These include Office Managers, Personal Assistants, Secretaries, Child Care Group Leaders, Law Clerks, Hotel Service Managers and Health Practice Managers.

Free visa assessment

If you would like to discuss the 187 and 186 visas in more detail, call us today for a free eligibility check.