EK DAMA – Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for employers

No. You can access the EK DAMA in respect of Overseas Workers already in your employ, or you can seek to access the EK DAMA based on a business need with identified skill shortages and seek the Overseas Worker/s after you have had the occupation/s and position/s approved in your EK DAMA labour agreement.

The EK DAMA is designed to complement standard options, not compete or replace them. If there is a standard option that meets your needs the government expects you to use that option. However, the standard skilled migration option for the occupation sought may not have a well-defined pathway to permanent residence, or any of the other concessions accessible in the EK DAMA – if these are needed then you may use the EK DAMA option. Another reason you may consider the EK DAMA option is that if you have thoroughly tested the Australian labour market and been unsuccessful, you can have your skill shortages addressed by including them in an EK DAMA labour agreement (with any necessary concessions) without having yet identified any Overseas Worker/s. With occupation/s and position/s pre-approved in your Labour Agreement, you may then be able to attract Overseas Workers with the right skills and experience to your business, nominating them under the Labour Agreement once you decide to employ them. 

There are numerous reasons, one being that by having, for example, an age concession approved for the occupation/s you are seeking, it means that you broaden the potential pool of Overseas Workers who may not meet the 45 year age limit in most standard pathways. The occupations you are seeking may also benefit from more experienced and mature-age employees who are able to transfer important skills to your existing workforce.

The EKCCI is required to undertake a labour market analysis every year, usually through a survey across a percentage of employers across all sectors within the Designated Area. This annual analysis informs whether the EKCCI requests any variations to the EK DAMA head agreement, in respect of occupations or concessions. If you have a genuine business need for an occupation to be added, you should put the details in writing in a letter to the EKCCI to help inform their analysis. The letter should be written in such a way that it can be attached to a Deed of Variation submission to the Minister if necessary.  If you are aware of other businesses in the EK with a similar need, you may collaborate with a joint letter, or each write separately. The broader the need, the greater the prospect of the Minister approving the additional occupation/s or concession/s

An Overseas Worker nominated by you under the EK DAMA will only be eligible for a permanent visa after they have held their temporary visa for at least three years, working for you, full-time, in the same occupation, within the EK Designated Area. They can only change employers without affecting their eligibility for the permanent visa, if the new employer also has an EK DAMA labour agreement and nominates them for the same occupation also within the EK Designated Area for the remainder of the three year period. If the Overseas Worker leaves under any other circumstances, their eligibility under the EK DAMA ceases. Once you have used an approved position in your EK DAMA labour agreement to successfully nominate someone, that position cannot be reused. 

The EKCCI cannot advise you which pathway best suits both your circumstances and those of any existing or prospective Overseas Worker you may nominate. Information about each visa (TSS, SESR for example) is available on the Department of Home Affairs website. If you are unsure you should seek professional advice from a registered migration agent. You must nominate which visa (or combination of visas for multiple occupations and/or positions) you are seeking at the time of requesting endorsement from the EKCCI.

The EKCCI has numerous obligations under the EK DAMA head agreement. These include ensuring only employers with a genuine skill shortage are given access to the EK DAMA, that salary and working conditions will be at least equivalent to those of an Australian in the same job, that there will be no exploitation of workers, and other checks and balances. When preparing an endorsement letter for the Department of Home Affairs, the EKCCI value adds with its local knowledge of the labour market and of the business itself. Home Affairs decision-makers place significant weight on credible information provided by the EKCCI (as the DAR). For this reason, the EK DAMA endorsement process is not a ‘tick and flick’ exercise, and there are occasions where the EKCCI may decline to endorse.

No. The EK DAMA can only be used to address skill shortages in full-time permanent roles, usually as part of the core workforce.

FAQs for individual prospective workers

No. The EK DAMA can only be accessed by employers with genuine skill shortages, who may then nominate individuals. Individuals cannot access the EK DAMA program directly or on their own.

No. The EKCCI is unable to match individuals with prospective employers. Individuals are free to contact prospective employers in the EK region. If the employer is not familiar with the EK DAMA, the individual can direct the employer to the EKCCI for information.