The efficient and selective light-driven conversion of carbon dioxide to formate is a scientific challenge for green chemistry and energy science, especially utilizing visible-light energy and earth-abundant catalytic materials. In this report, two mononuclear Ni(II) complexes of pyridylbenzimidazole (pbi) and pyridylbenzothiazole (pbt), such as Ni(pbt)(pyS)2 (1) and Ni(pbi)(pyS)2 (2) (pyS = pyridine-2-thiolate), were prepared and their reactivities studied. The two Ni complexes were examined for CO2 conversion using eosin Y as a photosensitizer upon visible-light irradiation in a H2O/ethanol solvent. The photoreaction of CO2 catalyzed by complexes 1 and 2 selectively affords formate with a high efficiency (14 000 turnover number) and a high catalytic selectivity of 99%. Undesirable proton reduction pathways were completely suppressed in the photocatalytic reactions with these sulfur-rich Ni catalysts under CO2. Hydrogen photoproduction was also studied under argon. Their kinetic isotope effects and influence of solution pH for formate and H2 production in the photocatalytic reactions are described in relation to the reaction mechanisms. These bioinspired Ni(II) catalysts with N/S ligation in relation to [NiFe]-hydrogenases are the first examples of early transition metal complexes affording such high selectivity and efficiencies, providing a future path to design solar-to-fuel processes for artificial photosynthesis.