DAMA Visa Process and Requirements for Nominating Overseas Workers

dama visaguide image thumbnail

If you have job openings for skilled or niche roles and struggle to find suitable local workers, then consider hiring overseas workers under the DAMA visa programme.

The Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is a tailored arrangement that eases skilled migration restrictions, making it easier for regional Australian businesses to fill critical job vacancies.

Read more to learn about the steps to apply for the DAMA programme, employer eligibility requirements, visa pathways, and concessions.

Core Features of DAMA Agreements

DAMAs offer flexibilities and concessions to ease the hiring process for Australian employers seeking overseas and semi-skilled workers. These are the core advantages of DAMA visas:

PR Pathway

The DAMA visa is an attractive offer for overseas workers who want to get permanent residency in Australia. This way, workers are more inclined to commit to the long term, while employers have a long-term solution to address labour shortages. 

Age Limit Concessions

DAMA programmes give older applicants a better chance of obtaining a work visa despite age-related limitations in other visa categories. This can benefit employers or businesses in sectors where experience and expertise are crucial.

English Language Concessions

This allows employers to access a wider pool of overseas workers who are highly skilled but do not meet the usual stringent English language requirements. 

Range of Skilled and Semi-Skilled Occupations Available

Through DAMAs, regional employers can hire overseas workers for specific roles not typically covered by standard visa occupation lists. On the other hand, workers have a range of work opportunities to choose from, many of which have no caveats or work restrictions.

Salary Concessions

DAMAs allow employers to fill critical roles at a salary that’s below the standard salary threshold. Meanwhile, workers have the opportunity to apply for jobs that they would not have been eligible for due to the salary requirement. This way, they have more options for employment in Australia.

Risk and Integrity Measures to Protect Employer and Worker Rights

As DAMAs are expected to invite hundreds of applications, measures are put in place to ensure employers filter out unqualified candidates who may engage in unethical or fraudulent behaviour.

On the other hand, this also protects potential employees from exploitation. For instance, employers are required to offer work terms and conditions comparable to those offered to local workers in the region.

5-Year Agreement to Reduce Red Tape

Having a long agreement period means fewer renewals and less paperwork, which translates to time and cost savings for the employer. The same benefit goes for DAMA visa applicants. They can focus their efforts instead on settling in the Australian community rather than worrying about the legalities and processes of skilled migration.

Eligible Visas Under the DAMA Programme

Employers can nominate overseas workers through the labour agreement stream of the following visas:

Visa pathwayNotes
Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa – Subclass 482Employees can work in Australia for a maximum of 4 years. No regional eligibility restriction apply. 
After 2 to 4 years, employers can sponsor employees for the permanent ENS visa (subclass 186).
Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) Visa – Subclass 494Employees can work in a designated regional area in Australia for up to 5 years.
After 3 years, they can apply for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191).
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa – Subclass 186Employees can live and work in Australia as a permanent resident.

As the employer/sponsor, it is your responsibility to check the eligibility of your potential nominees. Generally, they must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have relevant work experience in their nominated occupation:
    • at least 2 years for the 482 visa
    • at least 3 years for the 494 visa 
  • They must have a positive skills assessment for their occupation (if required by the labour agreement).
  • They must only work for their sponsor (i.e. your business).
  • They must meet age requirements (if required under the labour agreement).
  • They must possess the required English language skills, unless exempt.

DAMA Sponsorship Requirements for Employers 

Below are the general requirements that employers must meet to be able to sponsor overseas workers under the DAMA programme:

  • You must have been lawfully operating in the designated region for at least 12 months.
  • You must be financially viable.
  • You must have a genuine need for occupations under the specific DAMA programme you wish to apply for.
  • You must have no history of failing to meet obligations to your employees.
  • You must show proof that you have tried to fill vacant positions with Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • You must be able to offer a full-time position, with work terms and conditions comparable to those offered to local workers in the region.
  • You must obtain endorsement from your region’s Designated Area Representative (DAR) to enter into a labour agreement.

Note: If you’re considering one of the existing Australian DAMAs, check that specific DAMA for any specific employer requirements you must meet.

Existing DAMA Agreements in Australia

Currently, 12 DAMAs exist in Australia. Explore each one to know its own set of conditions and eligibility requirements:

DAMA Process: How to Apply

Below are the general steps on how to apply for the DAMA programme:

steps on how to apply for dama pogram image thumbnail

Important: You must first and foremost check if you meet all eligibility criteria specific to the DAMA region and occupation you intend to apply for.

  1. Obtain endorsement from your region’s Designated Area Representative (DAR).

Generally, you will have to fill out a form and provide details such as your business’s financial information, the number of workers you plan to sponsor and so on. You must also provide supporting documents along with your application.

  1. Submit a labour agreement request through the ImmiAccount system for approval.
  1. Nominate overseas skilled workers for the approved position/occupation, following the specific limits in the approved labour agreement.
  1. Coordinate with the nominated worker for their visa application. They will have to use the nomination TRN provided to you earlier.

DAMA Visa Occupation List

Eligible skilled and semi-skilled occupations vary depending on the specific DAMA agreement. For instance, currently, the NT DAMA has only 135 eligible occupations, while the Townsville QLD DAMA features almost 200 occupations.

Access and explore each of the agreements to learn more. 

Apply for DAMA With Guidance From a Migration Agent 

Whether you’re an employer seeking DAMA endorsement or a skilled worker looking to migrate to Australia through the DAMA programme, we offer industry insights and paperwork assistance to make the application easier for you.

With over 10 years of experience, we’ll give you practical steps and evaluate other visa options that best suit your circumstances.

Book a free consultation today and speak directly with one of our friendly agents!

Disclaimer: The above information is a general guide and not professional immigration advice. Be aware that immigration laws and regulations can change swiftly, potentially rendering some or all of the information outdated. Thus, before using the information above, we recommend checking the current laws through assistance from a migration agent or the Department of Home Affairs website.


What is a DAMA visa?

DAMA visas are those visas through which overseas skilled workers can be sponsored for skilled migration under the DAMA programme. These visas include:

  • 482 visa – Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS)
  • 494 visa – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) 
  • 186 visa – Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

Can DAMA lead to PR?

Yes. A pathway to permanent residence is one of the many features that make the DAMA programme appealing to skilled workers overseas. Although, you must check each DAMA region, as they have their own specific requirements and pathways to PR.

What are the benefits of Dama Australia?

DAMA visa holders can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Have a chance to apply for permanent residence
  • Have an easier time qualifying for a visa due to more flexible requirements
  • Opportunity to be hired for niche/specialised roles
  • Gain work experience in regional Australia

How long do DAMAs last?

Generally, DAMA agreements last for 5 years. After which, parties can renegotiate the terms and conditions of the labour agreement for employers to continue sponsoring overseas workers.

How much is the DAMA visa fee?

The DAMA visa fee can vary depending on the specific DAMA region you’ll be applying for. Check individual DAMA agreements on their official website.

Can an overseas worker directly apply for a DAMA visa?

No, overseas workers cannot directly apply under the DAMA programme. They must first be sponsored by an Australian employer who has established a labour agreement in their designated area.