February 12, 2020

The Complete Guide To DAMA In Australia

So, you’re looking to live and work in Australia? Here is your complete guide to the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).

The struggle for Australian employers to find qualified workers in regional areas is increasing. Fortunately, the introduction of the DAMA agreement aims to tackle this.

What is the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)?

The Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) employer-sponsored visa (subclass 482) under the labour agreement stream.

The DAMA is for employers in regional areas who are finding it challenging to recruit skilled and semi-skilled employees for their workforce. It allows employers to enter into an agreement with the Australian Government to sponsor individuals in niche market occupations.

DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa for skilled and semi-skilled workers available in 7 regional areas in Australia. The first  DAMA was established in the Northern Territory in 2015. 

Why is DAMA important for employers and individuals?

If you are an employer:

This unique visa program can help you gain access to overseas workers through sponsorship who have the skills and experience. There are concessions for age, for English language skills, as well as for the salary that you have to pay your workers.

If you are an individual:

The DAMA allows you to obtain permanent residency in Australia through employer sponsorship when the occupation would typically not allow for this through traditional visa pathways. It also provides  Permanent Residency pathways for migrants over 45 years of age due to an age concession. 

Workers cannot apply for this type of visa independently. Instead, they must talk to their potential employer about whether they are eligible and can access the DAMA.

Currently, the following regions have signed DAMA agreements with the Department of Home Affairs:

  • Far North Queensland DAMA
  • Goldfields DAMA
  • Northern Territory DAMA
  • Orana DAMA
  • Pilbara DAMA
  • South Australia DAMA
  • Warrnambool DAMA

Related: Top 10 Reasons to Live and Work in Regional Australia

What are the DAMA visa requirements?

If you are an employer:

Employers are required to provide several documents of supporting evidence to confirm eligibility in their application for sponsorship. These include financial reports, Business Activity Statements (BAS) and evidence of any new sales or contracts won.

It is also worth noting that employers are required to pay the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF Levy), as a contribution towards the training of Australian workers.

If you are an individual:

You first need to find an employer who is willing to nominate you. For this to happen, the employer must be located in one of the designated regions of Australia and will have to enter into an agreement with the government to be able to sponsor an individual like yourself.

Before talking to a potential employer about the DAMA, you should first check to see whether the specific occupation qualifies under this type of visa.

You also need to meet the relevant skills requirements which vary between occupations.

It’s important to remember that some of these jobs will have concessions. These may include:

Can you find an employer to sponsor you in the region?

Yes, the most effective way for job seekers to explore the opportunities available to them is by:

1) Understanding the requirements that businesses must have in order to qualify for DAMA in the state they are wanting to work in.

For instance, in the Northern Territory businesses can access the NT DAMA if they are actively operating in the NT and:

  • are viable and have been operating for at least 12 months
  • have no history of not meeting its obligations to employees
  • are looking to employ overseas workers to fill full-time positions with duties that align with one of the occupations on the NT DAMA list
  • can demonstrate they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • can provide terms and conditions of employment to overseas workers that are in accordance with those offered to Australian workers employed in the region.

2) Contacting prospective employers via local job networks and job listing sites to verify that they can access the DAMA. 

What are the DAMA visa jobs or DAMA 117 occupations?

Each specific regional area has a list of occupations that need to be filled. This means that no list is exactly the same for each area. The lists are quite extensive and there are lots of different jobs on there that can’t be found on other government-related lists.

Is there a DAMA occupation list for northern territory?

Absolutely! There is a long list of occupations that are eligible for sponsorship under the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA).

Who are DAMA approved employers, or where can I find a list?

To determine whether an employer is DAMA approved, you can simply scroll through the list of current labour agreements. If an employer isn’t on this list, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be open to becoming DAMA approved.

With our consultation, we would also always encourage you to have an exploratory conversation with the employer about becoming DAMA approved.

Australian visa application process

As part of the visa application process, certain primary Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) applicants must undertake a mandatory skills assessment for the authorities to evaluate the abilities of a worker.

What next? How to apply for DAMA Australia?

We are Registered Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers, and we are experienced in the DAMA. That means we can provide you with information and advice, as well as assist you with the five steps of the application process.

To clearly understand the application process, we break it down into four simple steps:

  1. Application for endorsement
  2. Application for the labour agreement
  3. Skills Verification
  4. Application for nomination
  5. Visa Application

So, if you’re interested in getting advice, or know that you want to apply, we’re ready to help you at every stage of the process. To get started, simply:

  1. Download our free visa guide, or 
  2. Book a consultation with an experienced migration consultant
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