The Australian Government is proceeding with its proposal to introduced Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs). The intention of these agreements is to make it easier for employers in regional areas who cannot find Australian workers to recruit workers from overseas.

DAMAs will form part of the subclass 457 visa program. The agreement must first be endorsed by the relevant state or territory government, and then employers in the designated area will have to apply to be able to sponsor workers under the conditions in the over-arching agreement.

The effect of a DAMA will be to reduce the minimum income threshold to be eligible for a subclass 457 visa up to 10 per cent, potentially reducing it from $53,900 to $48,510.

Employers will still have to meet any applicable labour market testing requirements to ensure that they are paying a market salary rate. Employers will also remain subject to Australian employment law, meaning employees cannot be paid less than the award rate.

The introduction of DAMAs is an exciting opportunity for prospective migrants who haven’t previously been eligible for a subclass 457 visa due to the minimum income threshold, as well as for employers who in regional areas who have struggled to find workers.

The first DAMA has now commenced in the Northern Territory, and further DAMAs are being negotiated.