A designated area migration agreement (DAMA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and a regional, state or territory authority. It provides access to more overseas workers than the standard skilled migration program. DAMAs operate under an agreement-based framework, providing flexibility for regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions. Individual DAMA labour agreements are between the Australian Government and endorsed employers/businesses operating within the relevant designated region. They are generally in effect for five years, and use the subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS), subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional), and subclass 186 Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visa programs. DAMAs ensure employers recruit Australian citizens and permanent residents as a first priority. Among other things, employers must demonstrate a genuine attempt to recruit Australians prior to getting access to a DAMA labour agreement. The regions that have signed the agreement have a greater advantage in attracting skilled immigrant applicants, and can provide a broader range of list of skilled immigrant occupations, more immigration quotas, and lower state-sponsored skilled immigration requirements than other regions.
Employers in the designated areas in the DAMA agreement can sponsor overseas professional and technical talents to work in Australia through the framework agreement of DAMA, and solve the problem of occupation shortage in related industries in the designated fields. Overseas applicants can come to Australia to work under the sponsorship of the employer. After working for the employer for the required number of years, they can be sponsored by the employer approved by DAMA, and finally get the opportunity to apply for Australian permanent residence.
Overseas applicants cannot apply for visas directly through the DAMA agreement. In fact, DAMA is an agreement signed by employers with recruitment needs in designated areas and the Australian government. After becoming a qualified employer, then is able to recruit corresponding professional and technical talents overseas under the DAMA agreement.
If overseas applicants want to come to Australia to work under the DAMA agreement and apply for a permanent residence visa in the future, they need to agree to work and live in the place where the sponsoring employer is located for at least 3 years.