The new FNQ DAMA is now operational and eligible businesses can apply for endorsement with the Cairns Chamber of Commerce. Once endorsed, eligible businesses may lodge an application to enter a Labour Agreement with the Commomwealth Governement.

We provide the following information for better understanding of migration pathways that will be available for participating businesses and visa applicants under the new FNQ DAMA agreement.

01. What is the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA)?

The Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) is a Designated Area Migration Agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, which allows employers in Far North Queensland regions (Cairns, the Cassowary Coast, the Tablelands, Mareeba and the Douglas Shire) to sponsor skilled overseas workers for positions that they are unable to fill with local workers.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce as a Designated Area Representative (DAR) is the signatory to the FNQ DAMA and is responsible for overseeing the Agreement, including endorsing employers seeking to access overseas workers through the DAMA. The Agreement is valid for the period of 5 years.

02. Is FNQ DAMA a new visa?

NO: The FNQ DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program stream under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa (Subclass 482 TSS Visa Labour Agreement stream), Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) Subclass 494 visa and Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Sucblass 186 visa. Employers must first apply to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce (Designated Area Representative) to access the FNQ DAMA. Only endorsed businesses will be able to access the DAMA migration pathway to nominate and sponsor employees on subclass 482 TSS , subclass 494 SESR or subclass 186 ENS visas under the Labour Agreement stream.

03. Can a visa applicant apply for a visa under the FNQ DAMA independently?

NO: The FNQ DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program which comes under the TSS (482), SESR (494) or ENS (186) visas, each applicant must be nominated by an eligible sponsor.

04. Is FNQ DAMA operational and can employers apply to access the FNQ DAMA program?

YES: The FNQ DAMA is now operational. Our team can assess and advise whether this is a suitable pathway for your business to nominate overseas employees. 

Businesses operating in the Far North Queensland regions (now also including Torres Shire, Weipa and Cassowary Coast) included in the Agreement experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers subject to endorsement by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and meeting legislative criteria for the visas.

05. Which occupations are included in FNQ DAMA?

There are currently 163 occupations available under the FNQ DAMA and the agreement provides different concessions for some occupations, including 10% TSMIT concession, English and skills requirements concessions and permanent residency pathway through 186 Transitional Stream Visa for certain occupations subject to meeting the eligibility requirements.

Occupations were determined through consultation process and its aim is to address the shortages of skilled employees in the FNQ regions, including hospitality, agriculture, tourism, health and other industries affected by skills shortages. Skilled occupation lists under DAMA Agreements are usually reviewed on an annual basis.

Some of the occupations only available through this program inlcude:

- Farm Inspector

- Farm Supervisor

- Cafe or Restaurant Supervisor

- Bar Attendant (supervisor)

- Waiter (supervisor)

- Housekeeping Supervisor

- Night Auditor

- Brewer

- Diving Instructor (Tourism or Photography)

- Marine Environment Interpreter

06. What does the FNQ DAMA process to nominate overseas employees include?

The businesses that wish to nominate overseas employees under the FNQ DAMA has to be endorsed by Cairns Chamber of Commerce and apply to enter into a Labour Agreement under the DAMA program with the Department of Home Affairs.

  1. Employer must apply for endorsement with Cairns Chamber of Commerce (CCC) as a Designated Area Representative.
  2. CCC will undertake the assessment for endorsement. The endorsement criteria and process include the number of positions required, evidence of active operation, financial viability, evidence of Labour Market Testing (LMT) and other details. The endorsement is usually valid for a 12 months period.
  3. CCC will review the application and if approved, issue a Letter of Endorsement to the employer and notify the Department of Home Affairs (The Department).
  4. Employer must then request a DAMA Labour Agreement with The Department.
  5. The Department will assess the Labour Agreement application and notify employer of outcome.
  6. When the employer has entered into a Labour Agreement with The Department they may proceed with lodgement of subclass 482 TSS or sucblass 494 SESR nomination and visa application under the Labour Agreement stream. The subclass 482 TSS Visa may be granted for a period of up to 4 years and may provide a pathway to permanent residency through transitional stream for certain occupations on the FNQ DAMA skilled occupation list. The Sucblass 494 offer a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years via the Subclass 191 under conditions.

07. Does Labour Market Testing (LMT) apply under the FNQ DAMA?

YES: Employers seeking to nominate overseas workers under the FNQ DAMA are required to provide evidence that they cannot find a suitable Australian Worker. Evidence of LMT will be required when applying for a DAR endorsement and at the nomination stage.

08. Does the Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) levy apply under the FNQ DAMA?

YES: SAF levy applies to all nominations, including the Labour agreement stream. For more information about SAF levy, please contact our team or the information can be found on our website.

Fees and Charges

FNQ DAMA fees and charges include:

  • Endorsement by Cairns Chamber of Commerce to access FNQ DAMA ($770 per worker/nomination for CCC members or $935 for non-members)
  • Entering into a Labour Agreement with the Australian Government- Nil

Please note that there are fees and charges applicable for:

  • Nomination application payable to The Department
  • Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy payable to The Department
  • Worker visa application payable to The Department
  • Migration Plus professional fees.

Migration Plus team has extensive experience and expertise with labour agreements and will be pleased to assist our business clients to access FNQ DAMA, contact us for further information.