What Is a DAMA?

The Australian Designated Area Migration Agreement, also referred to as the “DAMA” or “DAMA visa,” is intended to assist employers operating in a specific area through sponsoring skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local Australian workers.

The DAMA is a labour agreement for a designated area that can provide access to a larger amount of occupations and may have lower requirements. The DAMA labour agreement allows employers to be approved to sponsor migrant workers through the TSS 482 and the 186 visa streams. Skilled and semi-skilled workers in occupations which are not on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) may be able to access skilled Australian migration through the DAMA program.

Once a business is approved to be a sponsor under the DAMA, the business will be opened up to a wider range of potential skilled occupations to sponsor.

Who Needs The DAMA?

While the DAMA is focused on the needs of regional business, applicants that would be interested in the DAMA include; semi-skilled, skilled, and other workers looking to live and work in regional areas in Australia. 

Essentially, the DAMA is for Australian business, in regional areas, who are unable to fill positions within their company using an Australian worker. If accepted through a skilled migration stream and the DAMA, the skilled migrant may be given priority processing to receive a temporary entry or permanent residency.

Note: The NT DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program and individual workers cannot apply for a visa independently.

Why Choose The DAMA?

The Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA) is the only DAMA which (at the time of publication) has published their DAMA requirements. With that being said, the NT DAMA has outlined some positive allowances applicants can receive through the DAMA.

The concessions available under the NT DAMA include:

  • English requirement concessions (IELTS overall 5 with a minimum of 5.6 in speaking and listening only, NO minimum requirement for writing and reading)

  • Skills concessions for certain occupations

  • Broader occupation lists compared to the TSS short-term and medium-term lists. These are more adapted to the local needs of NT businesses.

  • Employment conditions are better aligned with local conditions – more flexibility in employment contracts compared to the rigid requirements for short-term and medium-term stream TSS.

Concessions for the Warrnambool and South Australian DAMAs, are not available at the date of publication.

DAMA Visa Applicable Locations

Currently, the only DAMA actively accepting applications is the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement Mark 2 (“NT DAMA Mk II”). It is Mk II as it replaced the previous Northern Territory’s DAMA. While the Northern Territory has a DAMA, and the Great South Coast including the Warrnambool area of Victoria will soon have a DAMA. There are potentially more areas to be added in the near future including, Orana region of NSW, Pilbara and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder regions in WA, as well as Cairns in Far North Queensland.

General Criteria for the DAMA

The DAMA program uses the “labour agreement” stream of the Temporary Skills Shortage (“TSS”) subclass 482 Visa and the Employer Nomination Scheme (“ENS”) subclass 186 visa. Thus, the DAMA does not necessarily have its own requirements. The “DAMA requirements” are subject to the requirements of the stream the skilled migrant is applying through.

The Designated area has requirements for endorsement of a labour agreement which must be met. In fact, the criteria for the DAMA is based around lowering the requirements for the 482 visa and 186 visa.

Some lower requirements include:

  • English Concessions

  • TSMIT Concessions

  • Lower Minimum Pay

The DAMA Application Process

Applying for a visa under the DAMA program is a 4 step process.

The below is tailored to the NT program, however, similar steps are likely to apply once another designated area is open for applications.

  1. The sponsoring business applies to the designated area body (such as the Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business, and Innovation “DBTI”) for endorsement of your business’ labour agreement

  2. The sponsoring business applies to the Department of Home Affairs for a labour agreement

  3. The sponsoring business applies to the Department of Home Affairs for the nomination of an individual worker under the labour agreement

  4. The worker applies for a TSS 482 visa under the labour agreement stream

Please contact Nevett Ford Lawyers if you require advice and assistance:

Telephone: +61 3 9614 7111

Email: melbourne@nevettford.com.au