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Skilled Migration Process

Designated Area Migration

Designated Area Migration

A Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) allows Australian states and territories to address their economic and labour market challenges through an agreement-based framework. The DAMA scheme has been announced for two regions that experience skills shortages and need a population boost – the Northern Territory (NT) and the Great South Coast (Warrnambool) region in Victoria state. Under the DAMA framework, employers in these designated areas can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. However, DAMA program is employer-sponsored only and individual workers cannot apply for a visa in this program on their own.
Australia Designated Area Migration

Background

The Australia federal government has designed the DAMA scheme to attract the migrant population to regional areas across the country that are outside of major cities.

The first DAMA (DAMA I) was introduced in NT in August 2014 and covered a broader range of occupations compared to standard skilled migration programs. The second DAMA (DAMA II) between the NT and the Federal governments started on January 2, 2019, and will continue for the next 5 years. Unlike the first agreement, DAMA II offers permanent residency (PR) pathways to visa holders who worked in NT for at least three years (including transitional arrangements for existing visa holders).

Warrnambool DAMA was announced by the Victoria State and Federal governments on December 10, 2018. More than 20 occupations are expected to be eligible for this program, but no further details are available at this stage. The full list of occupations should be released sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

In addition, the federal government is in discussions with a number of other regions that experience skill shortages, including the Pilbara and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder regions in Western Australia, Cairns in far North Queensland, and the Orana region in central New South Wales.

However, only NT program is in operation presently and the rest of this article will cover NT DAMA in more details.

NT DAMA

This program applies to the whole of the NT and is based on the labour agreement stream of the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. The main features of DAMA II and the requirements for businesses that wish to access the program are as follows:

Main Features
Business Requirements
  • Active operation in NT for at least 12 months
  • No history of not meeting its obligations to employees
  • Overseas workers are employed in full-time positions
  • Positions are located in NT and cannot be filled with Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • Duties are aligned with one of the occupations on the NT DAMA list
  • Terms and conditions of employment for overseas workers are in line with Australian workplace standards
Occupations
The NT DAMA list contains a number of occupation that are not present on the main list of occupations and includes 3 occupations not listed in ANZSCO. These occupations have been given a special code 070499 and applicants need to show that their skills and qualifications correspond to the following position descriptions:
Statistics
  • In the first year of operation DAMA I received requests from over 30 employers for more than 150 positions.
  • In the first year of operation DAMA II is expected to provide nominations for about 500 skilled workers.
  • Currently there are 60 businesses endorsed by DAMA. The list of all DAMA-approved employers can be found on the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) website.

Requirements

Common criteria that apply to prospective workers include skills and English language knowledge.

Skills
  • For occupations from NT DAMA list that are present on the DHA list of skilled occupations, the qualifications and experience requirements are the same as for the TSS and the ENS visas
  • For occupations from NT DAMA list that are not present on the DHA list, the qualification and experience requirements are dependent on the ANZSCO skill level of the occupation
English Consessions
IELTS Module
Overall
 
Speaking
 
Listening
 
Reading
 
Writing
 
Standard Requirements
Medium term stream – 5.0
Short term stream – 5.0
Medium term stream – 5.0
Short term stream – 4.5
Medium term stream – 5.0
Short term stream – 4.5
Medium term stream – 5.0
Short term stream – 4.5
Medium term stream – 5.0
Short term stream – 4.5
TSS Consession
5.0
 
4.0
 
4.0
 
No minimum
 
No minimum
 
ENS Consession
5.0
 
4.5
 
4.5
 
4.5
 
4.5
 

Caveats

  • DAMA is designed to ensure that businesses recruit Australians as a first priority and only, if they cannot fill vacant positions with Australian workforce, employers will be able to hire overseas worker(s).
  • Overseas workers cannot apply for NT DAMA independently and need to be sponsored by an Australian business in NT.
  • Successfully sponsored workers are granted only temporary work visas.
  • The current pathway to PR is available after three years of employment through ENS visas.
  • The choice to offer PR sponsorships is made solely by Australian employers and NT DAMA program cannot influence their decisions.
  • Any future PR applicants will need to meet all applicable visa requirements and NT DAMA cannot guarantee positive outcomes.
  • There is no age limit for workers in NT DAMA program. However people who plan to use the PR pathway cannot be 50 years old or over at the time of permanent residence nomination.

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