Employers are able to enter into a Labour Agreement arrangement directly with the Commonwealth Government where occupations are not catered for under the existing Temporary Skill Shortage ( SC482) visa program: Labour Agreement fact sheet. This is most common in regional areas where there skill shortages across the board are common. Despite some improvement to the process, this is a lengthy process which involves the participation of employers, government departments, relevant unions and other affected stake-holders.
We recommend that employers consider the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme where occupations are not on the TSS visa skill list but are in the Australia & New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSCO).This however is limited to Skill Level 1-3 only.
Regional Migration Agreements (RMAs) and Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) are a relatively recent facility intended to give state governments and regional councils some flexibility in meeting local skill shortages. Local employers would then be required to sponsor workers under these agreements using the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.
What is a DAMA?
In the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs’ recent speeches, he has indicated that Australia has a problem with population growth in the major cities, and a corresponding lack of workers in regional areas. A solution that has been proposed is a series of DAMA’s around Australia.
A DAMA is, in simple terms, a special migration deal which can be negotiated by the local or state government of a specific geographical area of the country which has unique or emergent labour market needs. The DAMA allows approved businesses in the area to sponsor workers. The benefit of the DAMA is that there might be additional scope for occupations which are normally not “skilled” enough for migration. The DAMA can also offer exemptions, such as a concession on the minimum salary payable, and the level of English required.
The idea of a DAMA is not completely new. There has been a DAMA in the Northern Territory for 3 years now, and it has recently been updated tp include a permanent residency pathway for visa holders. A new DAMA for the Warrnambool area of Victoria, is in final stages of negotiation, and we expect occupations to be announced soon. We also understand that a DAMA for the Orana region of New South Wales is being considered.
The selling point is that local and state governments, who are the best positioned to advise on chronic local labour shortages, can positively influence the mix of skilled migrants that settle in their area.
How does it work?
It’s not an easy or quick process to access a visa under the DAMA. Once a DAMA is negotiated, a business who wishes to employ people under the DAMA, must apply to the Government for a Labour Agreement. This is a fixed term, individual agreement in which the Government checks the business’ claims that they cannot find local workers and there is a genuine need for the workers.
Once the Labour Agreement is in place, the business will then be authorised to lodge a specified number of Subclass 482 nominations using the concessions of the DAMA; and their proposed employees can lodge Subclass 482 visa applications.
Effectively there is another layer of approval imposed in the process under a DAMA, because businesses need to apply for a Labour Agreement, which is a substitute for being a Standard Business Sponsor.
Employer sponsored visas only
DAMA cannot be used for independent or state sponsored skilled migration. It is only for employer sponsored migration, meaning that you would need to have a sponsored job offer from one of the businesses which has been approved for a Labour Agreement under the DAMA.
For this reason the DAMA is not going to be the panacea for migrants that many people think it will. It’s quite difficult to find an employer sponsor; and even more so, when you are outside Australia.
DAMA – a future tool?
While it’s being heavily promoted at the moment and generating lots of interest, it isn’t envisaged that the DAMA’s will provide widespread opportunities for offshore people to come to Australia. It’s difficult enough to find a job from offshore; and it seems likely that many employers will pick up lower skilled workers, perhaps from people on working holiday visas, or other people who are already in Australia. DAMA’s may, however, lead to targeted international recruitment campaigns when there are significant skill shortages in a certain place.
The current Minister views the concept of a DAMA as being integral to meeting the need for targeted skilled migration into Australia. Expect to see a lot more DAMA’s, and a lot more focus on the employer sponsored side of migration.
For further information on Employer Sponsors please click on the link.