Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement
A revised FNQ DAMA 1.2 commenced on 18 June 2021. How does this affect my existing FNQ DAMA Labour Agreement signed before that date?
Your existing FNQ DAMA Labour Agreement will continue to operate as it is written, under the FNQ DAMA head agreement that was in place at the time your Labour Agreement was signed. Any requests to add or amend occupations in subsequent years for your existing Labour Agreement will be in accordance with the original FNQ DAMA as is stood before 18 June 2021 (including the occupations that may be accessed and access to permanent visa pathways, where available).
However, you may submit a Deed of Variation to the Department of Home Affairs at any time to vary your existing Labour Agreement, in accordance with Paragraph 14.2 of your existing Labour Agreement. This may include requesting variations to align with aspects of the revised FNQ DAMA 1.2 if there is a demonstrated business need. A Deed of Variation that seeks to change or add any occupations, position numbers, or occupation concessions, requires DAR endorsement. Seeking to vary the agreement in some other way would not require DAR endorsement (although the Department of Home Affairs would consult the DAR in assessing the variation request).
Example: You have a pre-18 June 2021 Labour Agreement that includes occupations A and B, which are on the Occupation List for the original FNQ DAMA 1.1. However, you now have a need for a further occupation, C, that is not in the original Occupation List but is in the new revised Occupation List (post-18 June 2021). You may seek DAR endorsement to have occupation C added to your Labour Agreement, by way of a Deed of Variation, even though it was not on the list at the time your Labour Agreement was approved.
How do I seek a variation to an existing FNQ DAMA Labour Ageement?
As in the previous question, if your variation/s involves changing or adding any occupations, position numbers, or occupation concessions (whether against FNQ DAMA 1.1 or the revised FNQ DAMA 1.2), you will first need DAR endorsement. Once you have endorsement, you then emailwho will provide you with a pro-forma to complete and send to them. They will then advise whether the variations are approved or not.
My business was issued a DAR Endorsement Letter by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce under the old FNQ DAMA before 18 June 2021, and submitted a Labour Agreement request to the Department of Home Affairs that has not yet been decided. How does this affect my Labour Agreement request?
If you applied for a Labour Agreement under the FNQ DAMA before the variations were approved on 18 June 2021, and your Labour Agreement is approved and executed after that date, your Labour Agreement will reflect the new post-18 June 2021 variations.
Example1: You submitted a Labour Agreement request before 18 June 2021 when there was no age concession available. If your Labour Agreement is approved after 18 June 2021, it will reflect the post-18 June 2021 age concession if the age concession is available for the occupation/s sought.
Example 2: You submitted a Labour Agreement request before 18 June 2021 for an occupation/s that have a permanent visa pathway for nominees who have held a TSS 482 visa under the FNQ for three years. If your Labour Agreement is approved after 18 June 2021, it will reflect the post-18 June 2021 concession that allows time spent on certain non-FNQ DAMA temporary visas to count towards the three year period, in certain cicumstances.
My business was issued a DAR Endorsement Letter by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce under the old FNQ DAMA before 18 June 2021, but hasn’t yet submitted a Labour Agreement request to the Department of Home Affairs. Can this endorsement still be used for the new revised FNQ DAMA 1.2?
The significant variations to the new FNQ DAMA require that a new Request for Endorsement form must be completed. If your existing endorsement letter is still valid (less than 12 months old) and there are no substantial changes, a new endorsement letter may be provided without payment of a new fee. If the endorsement letter is more than 12 months old and/or if there are any substantial changes (such as seeking changes to occupations, numbers of positions, or additional concessions not previously available) then a completely new endorsement request and endorsement fee will be required. Contact the Chamber for advice.
Who can sponsor prospective workers under the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA)?
Far North Queensland (FNQ) businesses with well-established operations in FNQ for a minimum of 12 months. Businesses must have a need for the position/s within their operations in the FNQ Designated Area (which includes Australian postcodes 4852, 4854-4856, 4858-4861, 4865, 4868-4875, 4878-4883, 4885-4886 and 4895, and must be within the Cairns, Douglas, Mareeba, Tablelands, Cook, or Cassowary Coast local government areas, or the Torres Shire Council local government area, or the Weipa Town Authority area). Find out more about how businesses are assessed as being eligible.
Can businesses sponsor prospective workers currently residing overseas under the FNQ DAMA?
FNQ employers may sponsor workers residing in Australia or overseas from any country, through the FNQ DAMA.
How long is the processing time for the FNQ DAMA endorsement application?
The DAR endeavours to complete assessment for endorsement within 5 working days. However if a business has not supplied all necessary information required to make a meaningful assessment and decision, the assessment can take longer. The DAR may request further information or clarification during the assessment process. The Department of Home Affairs determines its own processing times.
Is labour market testing (LMT) necessary before seeking endorsement under the FNQ DAMA?
The DAR requires a summary of genuine recruitment efforts in the lead up to requesting an endorsement, preferably corresponding evidence that LMT would meet the migration legislative requirements. It would be questionable why an employer is requesting a DAMA labour agreement for a position/s before they have tested the labour market to see whether it can be filled by an Australian citizen or permanent resident. If there is indeed a genuine need to fill a position it would be expected that an employer genuinely keen to fill a vacancy would be running ongoing advertising since before requesting DAR endorsement, until they fill the position with either an Australian or an oversas worker.
Does the Skilling Australian Fund levy apply under the FNQ DAMA?
You should check the Department of Home Affairs website for each visa option under the FNQ DAMA, regarding any government fees or charges, as well as the Skilling Australian Fund page.
I am interested in working in Far North Queensland. Can I apply for a visa under the FNQ DAMA independently?
No. You cannot apply independently. The FNQ DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program. Businesses must apply to the DAR to access the FNQ DAMA for the occupations, concessions and number of workers they require.
If the business is endorsed by the DAR and if the Department of Home Affairs signs a Labour Agreement with the business, they can then submit nomination applications for the appropriately skilled workers they have identified.
Will the Cairns Chamber of Commerce recommend businesses that may want to sponsor me through the FNQ DAMA?
No. The Cairns Chamber of Commerce does not connect those interested in a visa with businesses who are endorsed, or may be interested in applying to be endorsed, under the FNQ DAMA.
Are prospective workers guaranteed permanent residency under the FNQ DAMA?
Workers must meet the eligibility requirements for permanent residency (where this is available for select occupations) under the FNQ DAMA. The current pathway access to permanent residency is through the ENS Subclass 186 visa stream and requires the employer's sponsorship. This generally requires that the worker has held a TSS482 visa issued under the FNQ DAMA for at least three years before being endorsed and nominated for a permanent visa (some limited exceptions are available under the revised FNQ DAMA 1.2).