A DAMA is an agreement negotiated between the Department of Home Affairs for the Commonwealth and a regional state or territory authority, such as a local council, to cover a specific regional area. It is usually available for a period of five years.
It allows regional employers to sponsor employees in different occupations than the skills available under Standard Business Sponsorship for the 482 TSS Visa or the 494 Regional Visa. This includes semi-skilled occupations or skills not classified under ANZSCO. DAMA’s often also provide concessions or exemptions – for example on an applicant’s level of English or on the minimum salary level required for an occupation.
DAMA’s or Designated Area Migration Agreements are becoming more widely available across regional areas of Australia since the Government began focusing on promoting regional migration from 2019. These migration arrangements are designed to provide businesses greater access to visa sponsorship for the particular skills needed in regional areas.
Currently at 13 March 2020, there are six Designated Area Migration Agreements in place throughout Australia, including for the Northern Territory, the Goldfields in WA and far north Queensland.
Additional DAMA’s for visa sponsorship are being established across Australia.
Many Designated Area Migration Agreements do include many of the occupations that are available in the standard TSS 482 visa or Regional 494 Visa program. However, the benefit of a DAMA is that concessions to the English language and salary requirements may be available. This can allow regional employers to access the same skills more easily than they could through the standard visa program.
For example, the English test scores required under a DAMA can be lower than under the standard program, making it easier for a visa applicant to pass. This is especially the case if the person is generally a good English communicator, but perhaps not able to meet the requirements of a stringent English test for a visa.
Also, concessions to minimum salary levels allow employers to pay a visa holder the same or more than an Australian worker. This may be the case even if the amount is less than the minimum salary threshold imposed under the standard TSS 482 Visa or Regional 494 Visa program.
Another benefit is that semi-skilled occupations that are in shortage in the particular region, could be available under a DAMA, while they are not available under the standard visa program. This is a key benefit for employers.
Once a Designated Area Migration Agreement is in place, it functions as a head agreement so that employers operating in a particular regional area can take advantage of the skills and concessions available. The available occupations may be semi-skilled or not listed on ANZSCO.
To make use of a DAMA, employers must apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a labour agreement under the terms of the DAMA head agreement. They must identify the particular occupations they need and the concessions they wish to take advantage of.
It is worth considering a labour agreement under a Designated Area Migration Agreement if your business operates in an eligible regional area and especially if the skills needed are not available under the standard visa programs. However, while there are benefits to making use of a DAMA, the process of requesting a labour agreement is time consuming and often complex.
Requesting a labour agreement usually requires a compelling business case including evidence of a labour market shortage for the skills you require. You can read more about DAMA’s in our fact sheet here or find out more about DAMA’s that are being established here.
Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents can help you to understand if a DAMA labour agreement is suitable for your business. We then guide you through each step of the process of preparing your evidence requirements and liaise with the Department of Home Affairs and relevant third parties on your behalf. This includes managing and lodging the application on your behalf and advising of your compliance obligations as a visa sponsor.
All of our migration agents are practising case workers and members of the Migration Institute of Australia. We encourage you to contact our Registered Migration Agents on +61 8 9221 3388 (National free call 1800 449 858) or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your business’ sponsorship arrangements.
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