A Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Federal Government and a regional, state or territory authority. It is also a form of Labour Agreement. Labour Agreements are work agreements, which enable approved employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers and in response to identified market shortages. These agreements are negotiated between the Department and employers or industrial associations. It allows for more access to overseas workers to enter into the skilled migration program.
DAMAs are labour agreements between a Designated Area Representative (DAR) and the Australian Government and provide access to additional occupations and concessions to standard migration programs under the:
- Temporary Skill Shortage visa (Subclass 482)
- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (Subclass 494)
- Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186)
A DAMA will generally be in effect for five years at a time. Once a DAMA is in place, local businesses can apply for endorsement and enter into individual labour agreements under the conditions of the relevant DAMA. Each DAMA is designed to allow the region it applies to respond to their unique labour market needs.
To access a DAMA, individuals need to be sponsored:
- By an employer operating in a designated region
- For an occupation that is specified in the head agreement.
Active DAMAs in Australia 2021
There are currently seven DAMA lists in place:
- The Far North Queensland (FNQ DAMA 1.2)
- with 164 occupations available and English level, skills level, experience requirements, age, income threshold and permanent residency (PR) pathway concessions available for some occupations.
- The Orana region DAMA
- with 73 occupations available and skills and work experience along with income threshold, English levels and permanent pathway concessions.
- The Northern Territory DAMA
- with 117 occupations available and English and salary concessions for some occupations.
- The Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement DAMA (Metro
- with 64 occupations available and English level, age, income threshold and permanent residency pathway concessions available for certain occupations.
- The South Australian Regional Workforce DAMA (Regional)
- with 139 occupations available and English level, age, income threshold and permanent residency pathway concessions available.
- The Victoria’s Great South Coast DAMA
- with 27 occupations available and English level, income threshold and permanent pathway concessions for some occupations.
- The Goldfields DAMA
- with 125 occupations available and English level, income threshold and permanent pathway concessions available for some occupations.
What is the Far North Queensland DAMA?
The Far North Queensland (FNQ) DAMA was signed on 4 April 2019, and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce is the Designated Area Representative (DAR) for the FNQ DAMA. As of 18 June 2021, the FNQ DAMA Deed of Variation came into effect. It is now known as FNQ DAMA 1.2, as substantial changes were made.
The FNQ DAMA 1.2 allows Far North Queensland employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas professionals for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. Once a business is approved for a labour agreement with the Department, they are able to be nominated overseas worked for occupations that would not previously have had access to a permanent visa pathway.
The Cairns Chamber of Commerce, in its role as DAR, is responsible for the first stage, which involves assessing requests from businesses seeking endorsement to enter into a Labour Agreement with the government. It makes the decision whether the endorse the Employer. This endorsement is required when submitting a request for a Labour Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs.
The FNQ DAMA 1.2 is tailored to address current and emerging labour market shortages and local terms and conditions of employment in Far North Queensland.
Key elements of the FNQ DAMA 1.2 include:
» A broad range of occupations that reflect the region’s skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply but rather, concessions that may apply
» English language, age concessions, salary concessions and a pathway to permanent residence for select occupations.
» Removal of the ‘post-qualification experience’ requirement along with concessions for the skills, qualifications and experience requirements
FAQs : Designated area migration agreements
Does an applicant need a skills assessment for the FNQ DAMA?
A skills assessment may not be required. Occupations on the Skilled Occupation List will not require a skills assessment except in certain circumstance or when the Department of Home Affairs specifically requests it.
It will not be required when a business has made a request to the DAR to be endorsed, but will be for individual nomination applications lodged through the FNQ DAMA 1.2 Occupations List.
This is to ensure that the individual has the necessary skills to perform the tasks of their chosen occupation under FNQ DAMA 1.2.
How to apply under a DAMA?
The DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program and individual workers cannot apply independently. Employers must apply to the relevant DAR to access the DAMA for the occupations, concessions and number of workers they require.
Generally, the application process consists of:
- Step 1. The employer (sponsoring business) applies to the relevant DAR for endorsement.
- Step 2. The DAR assesses the endorsement application.
- Step 3. If the assessment is positive the DAR issues a letter of endorsement to the employer and notifies the Department.
- Step 4. The sponsoring business makes an application to enter into an individual DAMA labour agreement with the Department.
- Step 5. The Department assesses the DAMA application.
- Step 6. On receipt of a positive outcome from the Department, the employer can proceed to lodge a nomination for the employee and the employee can also lodge a visa application under the labour agreement stream with the Department.
The FNQ DAMA 1.2 is a four stage process:
- Endorsement by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce (DAR) through a Request for Endorsement
- Receipt of an endorsement letter that is valid for 1 year
- Request for a Labour Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs
- A Labour Agreement will be valid for five years
- Nominating the visa applicant or applicants with the Department of Home Affairs
- Nominees apply for their visa
Nevett Ford Lawyers will help you explore visa options to determine the best application or your circumstances. We are experienced in Australian migration law and visa applications, and our lawyers have extensive knowledge in the legal requirements, eligibility criteria, and the supporting documents required.
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