Immigration South Australia (SA) has entered into two 5-year Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA’s), as was announced by the Minister for Immigration and the South Australian Government. These DAMA’s enable eligible employers in South Australia to sponsor suitably skilled overseas workers in specified skilled and semi-skilled occupations which they have been unable to fill in the local labour market. These Agreements operate under the Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) and Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa programs (labour agreement stream). TSS visa holders may also later qualify for a permanent residence visa under the Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa in selected occupations via the DAMA South Australia visa program.
Subclass 494 visa holders also have a pathway to permanent residency in Australia under the DAMA visa program via the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (to be introduced on 16 November 2022).
What Are The Key Features Of The South Australia DAMA?
The Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement (ACTIAA) covers occupations in the defence, space, advanced manufacturing and technology industries. Up to 300 DAMA SA applicants per year are able to be sponsored under the ACTIAA to work in the Adelaide Metropolitan region (which encompasses the Greater Adelaide area). Age concessions for the permanent residence visa pathway are also specified for each occupation under the ACTIAA. Whereas the usual age limit to qualify under the ENS programme is under 45 (unless an exemption applies), the maximum eligible age is extended to either under 50 or 55 under this Agreement.
The South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement (SARWA) lists occupations in the key regional growth industries of agribusiness, health, aged care, hospitality, tourism, mining and the construction sectors and covers the entire state of South Australia. Up to 750 places each year are available for sponsorship under the SARWA.
A key feature of the SARWA is that it includes several occupations which were not previously eligible for sponsorship under the skilled visa programme, specifically those classified as Skill Level 4 occupations under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Occupations in this skill level category generally require an AQF Certificate II or III qualification, or alternatively, a minimum of one-year employment experience, which may substitute for formal qualifications.
Each South Australia DAMA also include additional non-ANZSCO occupations which are eligible for sponsorship under the DAMA SA program. All such occupations are denoted with the occupation code 070499.
Certain occupations eligible for sponsorship under the South Australia DAMA also provide an age concession when applying for permanent residence under the ENS and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) visa programmes. Other concessions in relation to skills and experience, English language and the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) are also available for specified occupations under the DAMA Adelaide.
How Does The DAMA South Australia Process Work?
To sponsor overseas workers under either the ACTIAA or SARWA discussed above, eligible employers must first apply to Immigration SA (being the Designated Area Representative (DAR)) for endorsement under the programme. Successful applicants will receive a Letter of Endorsement from Immigration SA, which must then be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) as part of a separate application for approval of a DAMA Labour Agreement with the Federal Government.
The outcome of this process is that each approved employer will have a separate Labour Agreement DAMA with the Government, specifying an agreed number of workers which the employer is able to sponsor under the subclass 482 and/or 494 visa programs. The eligibility of workers who are sponsored under a Labour Agreement to later qualify for permanent residence will also be specified in each Labour Agreement DAMA, as applicable.
In its role as the DAR, Immigration SA will oversee the DAMA’s, issue endorsements to approved employers and conduct monitoring and evaluation activities under the programme.
It is important to also be aware that approved sponsors are subject to temporary residence sponsorship obligations as well as a sanctions framework under the Migration law. They must meet all labour agreement and visa requirements for the duration of the labour agreement and the visa. Compliance is monitored through Departmental audits and site visits.
How To Apply For Endorsement Under A South Australia DAMA
As part of the application process, employers must submit evidence to show that that they have completed specified Labour Market Testing (LMT) which demonstrates that they have been unable to recruit skilled workers from the local employment market. A Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) levy also applies.
There is no fee payable to apply to Immigration SA for endorsement under a South Australian DAMA, or to enter into a Labour Agreement with the Federal Government.
In assessing whether a business is eligible to access the South Australian DAMA, Immigration SA will consider the below factors in determining whether criteria for DAMA approval are satisfied.
In relation to the business, the employer must demonstrate the following:
- Actively operating in the designated area and is lawfully operating that business for more than 12 months and the business is financially viable.
Declare if there is any adverse information;
- Positions to be filled must be located in the designated area as specified in the DAMA SA, that is, South Australia or in the Greater Adelaide planning area.
The following factors relate to the employer’s workforce:
- Current and future workforce needs are assessed to determine that the occupations and concessions applied for meet the DAMA objectives, including details on any changes to workforce composition in the last 6 months;
- The number of positions for each occupation and concessions are available (the DAR will consider an equitable distribution of ceiling numbers across sectors and the region).
Employers must consider what their workforce needs are for the 12 month period, with endorsement under the program being valid for 12 months. Be aware that an employer can only apply for endorsement once in the 12 month period.
A business which seeks to sponsor more overseas workers must apply to Immigration SA for endorsement of the relevant occupation/s and the number of positions each year.
Position And Labour Market Testing
In regards to the position and Labour Market Testing (LMT), the following factors are assessed:
- Demonstrate that the position is genuine and there is a genuine vacancy;
- Confirm that there are no Australians or permanent residents available to fill the position and LMT has been undertaken in line with the Department’s labour market testing requirements;
- Employment terms and conditions are reasonable and lawful.
The employer must demonstrate that concessions under the DAMA South Australia will not:
- undermine the proposed visa applicant’s ability to support themselves;
- lead to exploitation.
The business must also demonstrate why the concession/s are needed for the position/s they are seeking to fill.
Terms And Conditions For South Australia DAMA Endorsement
To apply for endorsement by Immigration SA, the business must complete an online Request for Endorsement application form and submit the below details.
- the business is actively operating in South Australia and is financially viable and has been lawfully operating for at least 12 months;
- has no adverse history of not meeting its obligations to employees (work relations, work health and safety and migration provisions);
- is seeking to employ overseas workers to fill full-time positions located in the designated area as prescribed in the relevant South Australian DAMA agreement with duties that align with occupations in the Agreements’ occupation list;
- cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens or permanent residents, as evidenced through labour market testing;
- can provide conditions of employment to overseas workers that are in accordance with those offered to Australian workers employed in the region;
- provide a declaration statement.
The employer must also consider its workforce needs for the next 12 months and specify the number of overseas workers needed for the positions requested, as well as the concessions available for each occupation.
Endorsement Approval Obligations
Once an employer has been endorsed by Immigration SA has been approved, the employer must provide settlement information (as provided by Immigration SA) to the proposed visa applicant, as follows:
- the visa applicant who is proposing to be sponsored by the employer under the DAMA must meet the skills, qualifications, experience, and employment background requirements in accordance with the ANZSCO, or as stipulated by the Department;
- the nominee may also be required to undertake a skill assessment (as per Immigration requirements). The relevant Skills Assessing Authority is prescribed in the DAMA Labour Agreement;
- the visa applicant must satisfy any relevant occupational licensing and registration requirements in line with the Migration Regulations and/or State and Territory laws.
A Letter of Endorsement, which details the DAMA Agreement name and number will be issued to the employer, in order to apply for the Individual Labour Agreement with the Department. The Letter of Endorsement is valid for 12 months from the date of approval.
Apply For A Labour Agreement
The next step in the DAMA application process is for the employer to apply to the Department for a Labour Agreement.
The labour agreement, once approved, will specify the number of skilled overseas workers that the employer can nominate in each year for the first 3 years. It will also stipulate the visa subclasses for which the employer may sponsor skilled overseas workers.
The employer must next apply to the Department to nominate each position under the labour agreement. Additionally, the proposed nominee must submit a separate visa application on their own behalf.
For a detailed outline of the requirements and process involved in applying for a Labour Agreement to the Department, and the subsequent nomination and visa applications that are required in order to sponsor an overseas worker under the DAMA Adelaide, we recommend that you refer to our article on A Complete Guide to Labour Agreement Visa. This article also includes information for visa applicants, including DAMA visa requirements.
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In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the DAMA visa South Australia requirements. Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for a DAMA visa, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this. Start off on the right foot by contacting PAX Migration Australia today.
For up-to-date advice on the DAMA Adelaide, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.
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Please see our article on the DAMA South Australia to learn more about the sponsoring an overseas worker under this program, including further details about the ANZSCO, the concessions available, how to apply for endorsement with Immigration SA and the steps involved subsequently with the Department, and the obligations of a sponsoring employer under the DAMA.
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – DAMA Occupation List
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – DAMA Occupation List – Adelaide City Agreement
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – DAMA Occupation List – South Australian Agreement
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – DAMA Occupation List – Adelaide City Agreement
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – DAMA Occupation List – DAMA Occupation Profiles – SA DAMA – Occupation Profiles (occupations not in ANZSCO)
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Local Businesses – Supporting Information – DAMA Terms and Conditions
Immigration South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration – Local Businesses – Supporting Information – DAMA Assessment Criteria
Australia Bureau of Statistics – 1220.0 – ANZSCO – Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1 – Search Facility
Australia Bureau of Statistics – 1220.0 – ANZSCO – Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1 – Conceptual Basis of ANZSCO – Scope of the Classification
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and Citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Nominating a position – Labour agreements