Orana DAMA Part II: The Applicant
What is a DAMA? It is an agreement between an area and the government allowing businesses in that area to sponsor overseas workers. It is kinder than the usual employer sponsored visa streams, allowing for businesses in those areas to access occupations that are not available otherwise. It also includes concessions on the income threshold as well as English language proficiency. Businesses must apply to their Regional Development Authority (RDA) for endorsement, after which they can then apply to the government for a Labour Agreement. Once all approved, the business can then nominate applicants under the Labour Agreement stream Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).
Every DAMA is different, with different occupation lists and requirements. We have previously covered the South Australia DAMA and the Northern Territory DAMA.
In our previous article we covered what the business requirements under the Orana DAMA are. You can catch up through the link below.
About the business (part I):
- Business eligibility
- Labour Market Testing
- Skilling Australians Fund
- Business application
About the applicant (part II):
- Orana DAMA occupation list
- Skill concessions
- Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) concessions
- English proficiency concessions
- Pathway to permanent residency
The Orana DAMA covers 73 occupations, of which 11 occupations have skill concessions, 27 occupations have Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) concessions and 31 occupations have English language proficiency concessions.
If your occupation does not feature on the Orana DAMA occupation list, check out the other DAMAs occupation lists (links above) as well as our fantastic consolidated occupation list which shows you all the occupations available, the visas that each occupation is eligible to apply for, the assessing authorities for each occupation, caveats that apply and more!
Skill concessions refer to a lower skill level occupation being available under the Orana DAMA. Most skill related visas require the applicant to nominate an occupation that is skill level 1 to 3, However the Orana DAMA has a number of skill level 4 and 5 occupations on their list. An example is the skill level 4 occupation, Accounts Clerk, which is not eligible for any other visas. Those nominating these occupations must meet the following requirements.
- Accounts Clerk 
- Agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operator 
- Bookkeeper 
- Cost Clerk 
- Earthmoving plant operator (general) 
- Engineering production worker 
- Miners 
- Mobile plant operators (nec) 
- Payroll clerk 
- Truck driver 
- Positive skills assessment, and
- Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Certificate II or equivalent and 1.5 years of relevant post qualifications work experience (at least 20 hours a week), or
- Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Certificate III or equivalent and 1 year of relevant post qualifications work experience (at least 20 hours a week), or
- 2 years of relevant work experience (at least 38 hours a week)
- Aged or disabled carer 
- Nursing support worker 
- Personal care assistant 
- Positive skills assessment, and
- Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Certificate III and 2 years of relevant post qualifications work experience (at least 38 hours a week)
- Meat boner and slicer 
- Slaughterer 
- Assessed and verified by a MINTRAC registered assessor or otherwise approved by the Commonwealth, to have a minimum skill level that commensurates with the MINTRAC reference AQF Certificate III in meat processing, and
- At least 2 years post qualification work experience
- Mixed crop and livestock farm worker
- Positive skills assessment, and
- At least 2 years of full time post qualification work experience
Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) concession
The TSMIT exists to help overseas workers maintain a minimum standard of living here in Australia as well as to minimise abuse of the employer sponsored visa program. Employers who sponsor applicants are required to offer an income level that meets the TSMIT, which currently sits at $53,900 excluding superannuation at the time of this article being published. Be aware to always check if the TSMIT amount has changed.
Businesses that are covered under the Orana DAMA are able to pay sponsored overseas employees less than the TSMIT under the two following concession types.
If the occupation is able to receive the TSMIT concession, the business must still meet the following requirements.
Concession Type 1
Businesses must demonstrate that annual monetary earnings will be at least 90% of TSMIT whilst also meeting Award requirements and Annual Market Salary Rate expectations for the specific occupation and location.
Concession Type 2
Businesses must demonstrate that monetary earnings will be at least 90% of TSMIT and non-monetary earnings (food and board) must not be more than 10% of TSMIT, with the total package being at least equal to the TSMIT.
There are very specific rules as to what constitutes eligible non-monetary earnings:
- The benefits must relate to the actual living costs of the employee, and they would have genuinely been paid by the employee had the employer not paid them
- The benefit must be measurable (and able to be documented/verified)
- The benefit must be guaranteed in the employment contract and must be consistent with that of other, similar employees
- The benefit excludes non-guaranteed overtime, bonuses and commissions.
As per Concession Type 1, total earnings must also at least meet award requirements and Annual Market Salary Rate expectations for the specific occupation and location.
English language proficiency concessions are also available. Typically an applicant must have an overall band score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 5 in each of the test components (IELTS) to meet the English requirements for the medium term stream TSS 482 visa (the medium term 482 visa has a pathway to permanent residency for its holder).
Under the Orana DAMA, a labour agreement stream TSS 482 applicant will have slightly more relaxed requirements, being an overall score on the IELTS of 5.0, with a score of at least 4 in each of the test components. This is not a massive difference, but will surely help some applicants.
Those applying for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186) not under a DAMA would usually have to achieve at least a 6 in each of the test components. Under the Orana DAMA, applicants for the ENS 186 visa need only achieve an overall score of 5.0, with no competent being less than 4.5. This is rather large difference and very helpful.
Employers seeking an English concession for an occupation need to provide a reason as to why the concession should be applied. The explanation should give information as to why a lower level of English language is acceptable for the nominated occupation.
Consideration should be given to how any workplace safety risks will be managed for workers with lower levels of English. Explanations that cover this would be helpful to an appeal for a concession.
All occupations other than Winer Maker and Mixed Crop and Livestock Farm Worker have a pathway to permanent residency under the Orana DAMA via the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186). This is based on the applicant meeting the requirements and having been on the TSS 482 visa for the required period.
Are you looking for Australia visa options and are struggling to find a fit? The Orana DAMA may be for you, but visit us for a individualised consultation. We can help you explore all our options to see which would be the best pathway for you. Australian Immigration Law Services seen many clients through their visa journey and have had a huge number of successful clients gain permanent residency in Australia. Call +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists.