DAMAs - Buyer Beware.


Is a DAMA the “golden ticket” to Australia that you have been looking for?

There has been a lot of talk in various media recently regarding DAMAs and as a result there has been a lot of misunderstanding as to what a DAMA is, and what it is not.

What is DAMA?

A DAMA or ‘designated area migration agreement’ is an agreement between a designated area of Australia and the Australian government, which may provide access to a broader range of occupations than other skilled visas, with some concessions in terms of English language, salary and age.

Unfortunately, it may not be the ‘golden ticket’ to Australia that you have been hoping for, unless you have an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a skilled/semi-skilled occupation that is included in the DAMA. Employers will still need to provide evidence that they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens by providing evidence of their recruitment efforts.

Currently, the only DAMA in effect is for the Northern Territory. However, new DAMAs will commence in specific regional areas of South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and North Queensland in the coming months.

Employer’s First Step

The first step in the process is for the business (employer) to get a labour agreement approved (an agreement between the employer and the DOHA). The labour agreement needs to be ‘endorsed’ by the Designated Area Representative (DAR or the “DAMA Manager”). If endorsement is given, then the application for the labour agreement can be lodged with DOHA, and if approved, then a 482/TSS (temporary-skilled-shortage) visa nomination and visa application can be lodged. Then there “may” be a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years.Always remembering that when DOHA applies the term “may”, you need to be able to look deeply into the legislation as and when it becomes available, to really understand where you fit into the possible pathways to PR. The Devil is in the Detail.

Your First Step

Your first step, as a visa applicant, would be to find an employer that is willing to sponsor you, for a position which the employer has been unable to fill despite their recruitment efforts. Then the employer (usually a small to medium-sized business) will need to be assessed to determine their eligibility and the position will need to be assessed to determine if it is suitable for the DAMA. The process is not inexpensive nor is it quick, so it is likely that only employers with a genuine inability to fill positions in their business will be interested in sponsoring workers via a DAMA.

Always Beware

So, it’s not necessarily the “quick and easy” process that some prospective migrants might have been hoping for and certainly not the way it has been represented out there in the media by migration agents (both, registered and unregistered) looking to sign up clients. The term “buyer beware” quickly comes to mind, when seeing the current promotions taking place, especially outside Australia, which are targeting eager candidates desperate for a future in Australia.


We are always here to help

In the complex and constantly changing world of immigration law, nothing is constant and nothing is simple. It really does pay dividends therefore, to obtain professional assistance, skilled practitioners who are specialised in the field, comprehensively trained to achieve the finest possible outcomes in the shortest possible time, whilst avoiding so much unnecessary expense.

If you would like further information on your skilled visa options, or if you’re an employer looking to sponsor workers, please contact us at Sellanes Clark and Associates to discuss your eligibility and options further.



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