DAMA Cairns- Far North Queensland Signs Designated Area Migration Agreement – FNQ DAMA


The new DAMA Cairns – Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) has been signed between the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth Government. The DAMA program has had major success in the Northern Territory and South Australia, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Victoria’s Great South Coast, New South Wales’ Orana region, and of course FNQ are all set to receive their own DAMA programs this year. This is fantastic news for Cairns businesses looking to fill employment gaps, and for migrants who wish to work and live in Far North Queensland. 

What is a DAMA?

First you may ask, what exactly is a DAMA? A Designated Area Migration Agreement is an agreement-based framework between the Department of Home Affairs and a specific region, state, or territory of Australia. The agreement allows an area to respond to their unique labour market conditions by permitting businesses from that area to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled international workers.

DAMA Visa !

 It is important to note that the DAMA is not a visa in itself but instead falls under the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa subclass 482. This means skilled workers will still need to find an employer to nominate them for this visa. Additionally, employers must still conduct Labour Market Testing to see if an Australian worker is able to fill the position.

However, a DAMA does allow an area to have their own occupation list to meet their specific labour needs.  The DAMA program will also allow applicants to transition from a temporary visa to permanent residency after 3 years – provided they have complied with their visa conditions.

Cairns dama queenland

FNQ DAMA Queensland, Australia

The FNQ DAMA covers the areas of Cairns, Douglas Shire, Tablelands, Mareeba, and the Cassowary Coast.  As mentioned the DAMA is an employer sponsored migration scheme, which means the employer must be approved by the Designated Area Representative (DAR) before they can nominate a skilled worker. The DAR is appointed by the Department of Home Affairs; for the FNQ DAMA the DAR is the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.

Follow our Facebook page to keep up to date on news of the FNQ DAMA. Alternatively, call our Cairns office on 07 4088 1506 for more information.

What is FNQ DAMA?


The FNQ DAMA, Queensland also known as the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement, is a signed agreement between the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth Government. The Far North Queensland includes regions such as Cairns, the Tablelands, the Cassowary Coast, the Douglas Shire as well as Mareeba. Under the agreement, employers in the areas of Far North Queensland will be able to sponsor skilled workers from overseas for those designations and positions that the local workers are not capable of filling.

The signatory to the FNQ DAMA is the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, who also acts as the Designated Area Representative. Additionally, this body also oversees the agreement and its various developments, which includes endorsing the employers who wish to seek access to overseas workers using the DAMA. Furthermore, the arrangement is valid for five years.

Therefore, the FNQ DAMA , Cairns Australia is a visa program. Employers sponsor it under the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, or the TSS Visa (Subclass 482 TSS Visa Labour Agreement Stream). Under this, every single applicant must be nominated by an eligible sponsor.

Also, the FNQ DAMA has a skilled occupation list which might include almost 70 different occupations. These occupations will be negotiated under the agreement and may provide several distinct concessions, such as the 10% TSMIT Concession along with the English and Skills Requirement Concessions. Additionally, it might also provide for permanent residency pathway through the 186 Transitional Stream Visa for some specific occupations, especially those that successfully meet the eligibility requirements. Skilled workers, thus, will require an employer who will be able to nominate them for this visa. 

The occupation list for DAMA has been released, it cover many different skilled occupations as well as a few semi-skilled occupations in industries. Some of these include hospitality, tourism, agriculture as well as health, along with others.

The FNQ DAMA is also different from the standard TSS Employer Sponsored Visa. Not only can it lead to Permanent Residency for the employees, unlike the standard 482 employer sponsored visa, but it can also enable them to transition to other designations in the future. Moreover, the FNQ DAMA only allows application in its designated regional area, which is approved and authorised by immigration. Also, unlike the standard TSS visa, a person can apply for this visa even if they have a lower English level or low salary, and can even receive age concessions.



The critical elements of FNQ DAMA include:

    • All the employers must be first endorsed by the Designated Area Representative, or DAR before they submit a request for the DAMA Labour Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs.
    • The pathways to the permanent residency for holders of the TSS Visas that are granted under the FNQ DAMA will be for selected occupations.
    • The occupations will be listed under a wide range.
    • The selected list of occupations should reflect the FNQ skilled and semi-skilled shortages.
    • Additionally, this list of occupations that reflects the FNQ semi-skilled and skilled shortages should have no caveats for the application procedure.
    • Certain occupations will have the English language concessions.
    • Some selected occupations will also receive concessions relating to qualifications as well as experience of the applicants.
    • Some occupations will also receive salary concessions, which in turn will reflect the market rates of FNQ. These concessions will also ensure that the worker terms and conditions of employment are in no way overlooked.
    • The DAMA will also list certain risk as well as integrity actions to ensure the rights of the employers, as well as those of the employees, remain protected.
    • There will be a five-year agreement to reduce any red tape.

Additionally, businesses can only access the FNQ DAMA if:

  • They are actively operating in the Far North Queensland regions.
  • They are viable and have been in operation for a period of at least 12 months.
  • They have no history of not being able to meet the obligations it promised to its employees.
  • They are looking to employ workers from the overseas for full-time positions in the organisation with duties that are at par with at least one of the occupations that are listed on the FNQ DAMA list.
  • They can prove that they cannot fill the said position with locally available workers, such as Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • They can provide the terms and conditions of employment to overseas workers while making sure that these terms are in accordance with those that are offered to Australian or native workers who are employed in the FNQ regions.


How to Apply for FNQ DAMA?

In order to get a visa under the FNQ DAMA, employers are required to first apply to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce under the Designated Area Representative. Only those businesses that are fully endorsed are able to access the DAMA migration pathway not only to nominate but also sponsor employees. This sponsorship is further done on subclass 482 TSS Visa, allocated under the Labour Agreement Stream.

It is important to note that the TSS 482 Visa does not have any age limit for applicants. However, businesses, as well as workers who wish to get the permanent residence pathway through the FNQ DAMA, should know that this permanent visa has a maximum age of limit of 44 years old during the time of nomination for permanent residence.

Also, an individual worker cannot apply for this visa independently under the Cairns Chamber of Commerce Designated Area Migration Agreement. They should look for a job in an organisation or business which is under the Designated Area and will be ready to sponsor them. The FNQ DAMA process has the following main steps:


Step 1: DAR Endorsement

All the interested businesses in the FNQ region are required to apply to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for endorsement. To do so, they are further required to fill in certain forms and submit the same with all the supporting documentation mentioned in the checklist provided by the body.

The forms are numbered from 1 to 3, wherein Form 1 is for a request for endorsement to access a labour agreement under the DAMA. Subsequently, Form 2 states a summary of the efforts of domestic recruitment and is followed by Form 3, which presents an overview of all the salary concessions.

A checklist is also given due importance and includes many essential documents or factors. One of this is a request for endorsement in order to access an agreement for labour under the FNQ DAMA form. It should also have the Form 956, especially in case of a registered migration agent assisting the DAMA application.

Certain business registration documents are also required, such as the proof of business registration and the registration proof for any change of names of the business. Moreover, there is a need for documents by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Business Number of the business (ABN) as well as its Australian Company Number (CAN). Additionally, the business registration documents should also include a trust deed, if applicable.

Other essential requirements are the business profile, which might include any website extracts or promotional material used by the business. One of the critical elements in the checklist is the evidence of the company operating in the regions of Far North Queensland (FNQ). It may include documents like a lease agreement, supplier or customer invoices and contracts, a letter stating the operations, net assets, profits, losses as well as turnover in the last 12 months. Furthermore, this letter is to be written by the accountant, and should also mention the business capability statement which refers to the FMQ operation by the said business.

Additionally, the descriptions of jobs for every position that has been requested, as well as an organisational chart which is less than six months old and displays the requested positions should be included. Importance should also be given on the financial statement for the financial year, along with the business activity statement for the last 12 months immediately preceding the application.

The checklist should also have a summary of all the domestic recruitment efforts form for each requested position, and should include copies of at least two job advertisements published in newspapers or industry websites. It should also have an attached statement stating the reasons why the business is not using the standard 482 Visa while also mentioning about the impact of the negative result, especially if the business does not have the endorsement to access the FNQ DAMA.

Another incredibly vital item in the checklist is the evidence to prove that the nominee receives the terms and conditions which are no less favourable than the ones provided to a citizen or permanent resident of Australia. It should mention the employee contract for a current or a former citizen if Australia, or an employee who is a permanent Australian resident in the same level of the job. It should also include the said employee’s recent payslips as well as any other evidence for every position that has been requested. Finally, it should have shreds of evidence of the different levels of market salary for the mentioned position.

If applicable, there should also be evidence to support the application for the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) Concession. In case it is relevant, it must include the employment contract. The contract must provide details about the remuneration package including the salary, housing, overtime, superannuation as well as any bonuses, along with other things.


Step 2: TSS Nomination Application

Once the endorsement procedure is complete, the Chamber of Commerce will check if applying business is eligible to access the FNQ DAMA or not. Once it is found to be eligible, then a letter of endorsement and the copies of all the supporting documents will be sent to the Government of Australia as well as the business.

Following this, the business will then be able to apply for a labour agreement through their Immi Account. This is a system using which you can create, submit, pay for as well as manage online visa applications all on a single online platform. The form for labour agreement request is generally found under the new labour agreement category on the new application page in Immi Account.

Any business that applies for the visa must identify an overseas worker or workers who have the suitable required skills as well as experience for the occupation which is approved by the FNQ DAMA. The business should then provide each worker with a settlement package that has been provided by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce. This package should additionally be delivered before the worker sends out their visa application.

Then, the business submits a nomination application to the Government of Australia for each of the overseas workers that it wishes to employ under the FNQ DAMA using their Immi Account.


Step 3: TSS Visa Application

Once the business has filed the TSS Nomination Application, their chosen overseas worker is eligible to further apply for a visa under the TSS.

The whole process of the TSS Visa Application takes close to three weeks in total, from filing the application to the processing of the same. However, this can also vary. It is because the accredited sponsors usually have their applications approved in as little as two days or less.

It is essential to know that the Cairns Chamber of Commerce makes an effort to complete all of the assessment procedure for the endorsement within ten working days of the filing of the application. However, if the businesses do not provide it with all the necessary and required information to make a meaningful and clear assessment as well as decision, the process will invariably take much longer. In such a scenario, the Chamber may request additional information or clarification from them, which will be a part of the assessment procedure.

Additionally, once this process is cleared, it goes to the Department of Home Affairs. This department, in turn, has its processing times, which can vary from application to application.


The skilled occupation list includes range of industries on the list including tourism, hospitality, agriculture, and health.


Fnq DAMA Occupation List



https://www.cairnschamber.com.au/files/media/original/35d/1c0/536/FNQ-DAMA—Occupation-List-20190909-.pdf> Full list of Occupations

Book a free consultation today and let us help you find a way forward.