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What is a DAMA? Designated Area Migration Agreement – Additional Pathways to PR!

11 Jan

DAMA stands for Designated Area Migration Agreement.

What does this mean?

A DAMA allows employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. It’s a type of Labour Agreement that a state or territory enters into with the Australian government, represented by the Department of Home Affairs.

A DAMA may present exciting opportunities for workers to progress to PR who otherwise may not have been able to, because their occupation was not on a relevant list.

At the moment there is only one DAMA in place, and it applies to the whole of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory DAMA is nicknamed DAMA II as it is the second one that the Territory has entered into. The last one expired on 31 December 2018 and the new DAMA will last for five years and expire in 2023.

A DAMA allows employers to nominate workers for Subclass 482 (TSS) visas. Some concessions to the normal TSS Visa requirements are available to the employer and visa applicants such as reduced English requirements, and in some cases reduced wages (10%) compared to the normal Subclass 482 Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT – currently $53,900).

The Northern Territory DAMA includes 117 occupations and the occupation list specifies which occupations may allow for English or TSMIT concessions. Occupations with concessions include excavator operator, cook, crowd control staff, childcare worker, forklift driver, hairdresser etc, however this is just a small sample of the available occupations with concessions. See the full list here.

The new DAMA also provides a pathway to permanent residency for DAMA visa holders, whereas the first one did not.

The Victorian government has recently announced that a DAMA will be introduced in the Warrnambool region, and this will contain 20 occupations, which will apparently include mainly hospitality occupations (although the specific occupations have not yet been announced). There is also talk of  DAMAs being entered into in the Cairns region, and the central New South Wales coast.

How do employers access DAMA II?

As the DAMA currently only applies to the Northern Territory, the procedure is as follows:

  • An employer must become endorsed by the Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business and Innovation. This involves completing an application form and verifying that the business has completed Labour Market Testing and has been unable to find Australian workers to fill the positions.
  • A summary of domestic recruitment efforts must be provided, and there must be no known adverse information about the employer (i.e. the employer must not have breached any Fair Work, immigration or Occupational Health & Safety rules and regulations).
  • Once an employer has been successfully endorsed, it can then apply to enter into a Labour Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs. This is a streamlined process compared to a normal Labour Agreement application process, and forms part of the DAMA agreement with the Northern Territory.

Once the Labour Agreement has been approved, the employer is then able to nominate workers for Subclass 482 visas, who will be able to progress to permanent residence once the normal requirements for transitioning to permanent residence are met e.g. three years with the same employer, unless different requirements are specified in the Labour Agreement.

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