Labour Agreements

As Featured In

My business doesn’t seem to be able to sponsor under the current work visa schemes. Is there any other way I can sponsor an overseas worker?

Work visa schemes requiring sponsorship and nomination typically have criteria that must be met for the overseas worker to be granted a 482, 494 or 186 visa. These could include:

  • Achieving a minimum score on an English language test such as IELTS or PTE;
  • Not being over a certain age for the permanent residency stage;
  • Meeting qualifications and/or work experience requirements; and
  • Meeting salary requirements.

If your business seeks to recruit a worker from overseas, but your nomination circumstances, or your overseas worker’s visa circumstances does not meet the criteria typically required for a 482, 494 or 186 visa, you could seek a flexible arrangement called a Labour Agreement.

You don’t need to apply for Standard Business Sponsorship in order to apply for a Labour Agreement.

Here’s an example of how we helped a major business in Australia obtain a labour agreement allowing them to recruit an overseas worker to enter Australia on 482 visas:

Case Study:

Palm Projects and Anderson

Palm Projects was a construction and project management company specialising in civil engineering projects located in Cairns in far north Queensland. Due to its location, Palm Projects experienced great difficulty in attracting local talent. Anderson, a citizen of the Papua New Guinea, had been working as a carpenter at Palm Projects for around 4 years on a 482 visa. Palm Projects wanted him to continue working in Australia for them and contacted Visa & Citizenship Lawyers for immigration advice.

At the age of 46, Anderson was not eligible for a 186 visa, which is a permanent visa. Usually, a person must be under 45 years of age when they apply for a 186 visa. However, the experience immigration lawyer advised that a possible option would be a Labour Agreement. Located in Cairns, Palm Projects has access to the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA). An age concession could be requested under the Labour Agreement, to change the age limit from the usual 45 to 55.

Visa & Citizenship Lawyers contacted the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for endorsement for the FNQ DAMA. Shortly after receiving endorsement, a DAMA Labour Agreement Request was made to the Department of Home Affairs, which was approved in approximately a week. Once the Labour Agreement was signed between the Commonwealth (specifically, the Minister for Home Affairs) and Palm Projects, they could nominate Anderson for a 482 Labour Agreement stream visa, then a 186 Labour Agreement stream visa.

Nominate a Worker Under a Labour Agreement

A Labour Agreement is an agreement that the business enters with the Commonwealth to allow the business to recruit, employ, and/or engage the services of an overseas worker as the holder of a 482, 494, or 186 visa.

Types of Labour Agreements

There are 5 types of Labour Agreements:

  1. Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA);
  2.  Project Agreements;
  3.  Industry Labour Agreements;
  4. Global Talent Employer Sponsored Program (GTES) agreements; and
  5.  Company Specific Labour Agreements.

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

Australia is a large continent with many rural and remote regions that urgently require workers to carry out essential roles in their local communities.

 A number of regions, states, or territories around Australia have entered into agreements with the Australian government called DAMA head agreements. These are skilled migration programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the region, allowing businesses operating within those regions to nominate overseas workers in a more flexible manner.

South Australia

1. Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement Skilled & Business Migration, Department for Industry, Innovation and Science South Australia

2. South Australia Regional Workforce Agreement

Skilled & Business Migration, Department for Industry, Innovation and Science

South Australia

Western Australia

3. East Kimberley DAMA

4. Pilbara DAMA
5. South-West DAMA
6. The Goldfields DAMA

East Kimberly Chamber of Commerce and Industry

RDA Pilbara
Shire of Dardanup
City of Kalgoorlie Boulder


7. Far North Queensland DAMA

8. Townsville North Queensland DAMA

Cairns Chamber of Commerce

Townsville Enterprise


9. Goulburn Valley DAMA

10. Great South Coast DAMA

Goulburn Valley

Warrnambool City Council

Northern Territory

11. Northern Territory DAMA

Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

New South Wales

12. Orana DAMA

Regional Development Australia Orana

If your business operates in any of the regions above, they could be eligible for a DAMA Labour Agreement.

To obtain a DAMA Labour Agreement through any of the 12 schemes above, the first step is to seek endorsement by the Designated Area Representative (DAR).

Your business will need to make a strong application showing that there is a genuine need for overseas workers to fill certain positions within the business.
Your business will need to show that due to critical skill and labour shortages within your industry, the positions could not be filled by Australian workers. This could mean carrying out a process of Labour Market Testing. Some DAMA Head Agreements have more lenient requirements for Labour Market Testing than those required by typical work visa schemes.

Case Study:

BMS Engineering Services and Marco

Marco, a citizen of the Philippines, was a welder. BMS Engineering
Services was a specialist in mining, located in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. BMS was in dire need of welders for major mining projects worth millions of dollars. Due to its rural and remote location, BMS found it difficult to attract local talent.

 BMS sought to employ Marco and contacted Visa & Citizenship Lawyers for advice on sponsoring him for a 482 visa in the Medium term stream. During a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer, it was determined that Marco did not currently meet the English language requirements for the 482 Medium and long-term stream. .

The experience immigration lawyer explained that BMS could obtain access to the Goldfields DAMA. In consideration of the urgency of the major mining projects, BMS engaged Visa & Citizenship Lawyers to handle the process of nomination from start to finish. Visa & Citizenship Lawyers first made a request for the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder to endorse BMS for
a Goldfields DAMA, using labour market testing evidence and a statement explaining the dire need for welders. The City of Kalgoorlie Boulder approved the endorsement in three days.

 With this endorsement, Visa & Citizenship Lawyers made a request to the Department of Home Affairs for a Labour Agreement. After a few days the Department of Home Affairs provided them with the drafted Agreement ready for BMS to sign. Once signed, the signed Agreement was sent back to the Department for their signature.

 A nomination and visa application for Marco were lodged, attaching the signed agreement. Shortly after lodgement, Marco’s 482 visa was approved for 5 years. 

If your business is located in an area which has access to a DAMA, don’t hesitate to contact Visa & Citizenship Lawyers for assistance.

Project Agreements

Similar to the DAMA Agreement, a Project Agreement is for project companies endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) under the China-Australia Investment Arrangement Investment Facilitation Agreement (IFA).
The purpose of the IFA is to allow overseas workers to enter Australia and work in the project company that typically facilitates Chinese investment in Australia in much-needed areas such as Australian agriculture and major urban development.
Your business will need to be endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs before making a request for a Labour Agreement to the Department of Home Affairs.

Types of Labour Agreements

Certain industries in Australia already have Labour Agreements with the Department of Home Affairs, with terms that are already agreed to ‘up front’ by the Minister.

 The reason that these ‘ready-made’ Labour Agreements exist is because the Department receives a number of similar Labour Agreement requests from the same industries, recognising that there is an ongoing labour shortage within that industry.

There are Labour Agreement Templates available for 9 industries currently:

1. Dairy
2. Fishing
3. Meat
4. Religion
5. Pork

6. Fine dining
7. Advertising
8. On-hire
9. Horticulture

For each Industry Labour Agreement template, the terms and conditions are already set and agreed upon and are non-negotiable. This ensures that the terms of the Labour Agreements are consistent across the businesses within these industries.

 English language, skills, salary, and age concessions may also already be agreed upon and written on the Industry Labour Agreement Template, but could vary depending on the type of visa that is being applied for, and the region that the business is currently operating in.

The business needs to fill out and submit a Labour Agreement Template with their application for an Industry Labour Agreement to the Department of Home Affairs.

Case Study:

HW Fishing and Chakra

Chakra, a citizen of Cambodia, had been on a boat for most of his life. He had years of experience in commercial fishing as well as the manufacture, repair, and maintenance of large fishing vessels.

 HW Fishing, located in Tasmania, urgently required an engineer to
manage their ship. They sought to employ Chakra for the position, but they were unsure about which ANZSCO code would be most appropriate. Whilst Ship’s Engineer (ANZSCO 231212) seemed most appropriate, Chakra has never served in the Navy. His only knowledge was in relation to fishing boats.

HW Fishing sought advice from an experience immigration lawyer at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers. They discovered that they could gain access to an Industry Labour Agreement to sponsor Chakra for a 482 visa, as the Fishing Industry Labour Agreement had identified an occupation called Ship’s Engineer (fishing industry – code 070499). In the Fishing Industry Labour Agreement, the Ship’s Engineer completes the same tasks as outlined for the ANZSCO occupation Ship’s Engineer (ANZSCO 231212), but specifically on a fishing vessel.

The Fishing Labour Agreement provided enough flexibility for HW Fishing to employ Chakra in a position that required filling. Visa & Citizenship Lawyers went through the Fishing Industry Labour Agreement Template and determined other eligibility requirements that HW Fishing and Chakra needed to fulfil, such as Labour Market Testing specifically provided to the Australian Institute of Marine Engineers (AIMPE).

Visa & Citizenship Lawyers collected all the required evidence, drafted the required Industry Agreement template and submitted it with the Labour Agreement Request made to the Department of Home Affairs. The Labour Agreement request was approved quickly due to the Department’s streamlined process in relation to Industry Labour Agreements. HW Fishing’s nomination application and Chakra’s visa application were submitted shortly afterwards, resulting in the grant of Chakra’s 482 visa with a duration of 4 years.

It is important to obtain legal advice from an experience immigration lawyer before seeking an Industry Labour Agreement. Whilst general information may be available on the Department of Home Affairs website, there is specific information not immediately apparent regarding the different visa arrangements in place under the Industry Labour Agreements, when compared with standard skilled visa program arrangements.

Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreements

Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreements are for established businesses or start-up businesses seeking to sponsor overseas workers with highly sought, cutting-edge skills, where no other Australian workers are available.

 You can sponsor a worker for a 482 visa, with a visa pathway to permanent residency available after 3 years.

There are two streams that your business can apply for when seeking a Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement:

1. The Startup Stream; and
2. The Established Business Stream.

Australia’s startup industry is fast growing; as such, the Startup stream seeks to facilitate the growth of this industry by allowing flexible entry for much-needed overseas workers into Australia.

 To apply for a Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement in the Startup Stream, your business must:

  • Be a startup business in a tech-based or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field;
  • Be endorsed by the Startup Advisory Panel;
  • Have received:
    • An investment of at least $50,000 from an investment fund registered as an Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership; or
    • An Accelerating Commercialisation Grant at any time.

To apply for a Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement in the Established Business Stream, your business must:

  • Be an Accredited Sponsor; and
  • Be public listed, or have an annual turnover of at least $4 million for each of the past 2 years.

Case Study:

TCD and Myung

TCD was a major company specialising in the manufacture of extremely cutting-edge technology. Most of the intellectual property associated with TCD’s projects was highly confidential. It required the skills of technicians that were highly proficient in the manufacture of semiconductors. They sought to employ Myung, a citizen of South Korea, to facilitate their semiconductor research and development, and microchip manufacturing operations, and contacted Visa & Citizenship Lawyers for legal advice.

Myung, aged 55 and a veteran in the semiconductor industry of South Korea, would not meet eligibility requirements for the grant of the work visa that was required. Further, there were no Industry Labour
Agreements specific for his occupation that could facilitate his visa pathway.

After conducting research and consulting with peak bodies, major stakeholders and experts in the electronics business, it was clear that Australia’s capacity to produce semiconductors with Australia’s existing workforce was limited. Visa & Citizenship Lawyers prepared a request for
a Global Talent Employer Sponsored labour agreement from the Department of Home Affairs. The request described how there was a genuine need to nominate Myung to work at TCD on their project to become Australia’s leading semiconductor manufacturer.

Working closely with the Department of Home Affairs, the labour agreement was swiftly executed and nomination and visa applications were lodged for TCD and Myung. The resulting negotiated labour agreement also allowed TCD to nominate more people like Myung and transfer these highly-sought skills to their existing Australian workforce.

Company Specific Labour Agreements

Company specific Labour Agreements can be negotiated directly with the Department of Home Affairs where none of the other existing labour agreements do not apply.

Requests for these types of Labour Agreements are rigorously assessed by the Department.

The business will have to build a thorough case in their submission to the Department of Home Affairs, namely:

  • Evidence that the skills are not easily available in Australia, with support from peak industry bodies and labour unions;
  • Evidence of genuine attempts made to recruit Australian workers to fill gaps in the workforce or industry;
  • Evidence that there is a genuine need for the skills in the business or industry.

If your business has specific labour needs that are not covered by standard work visa schemes or any of the other Labour Agreements, contact an experience immigration lawyer at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers today.

What Our Clients Say About Us

We worked with Adam and the expert Visa & Citizenship Lawyers team. We had a tight timeline to get our work

Read More

Trusted hands. Kept us well informed throughout the process of securing Australian citizenship for our child born overseas.

We sincerely appreciate Visa and Citizenship lawyers team. They professionally help us to get our 

Read More

How can I apply for a Labour Agreement?

If you’re interested in sponsoring overseas workers and would like to explore how you can utilise labour agreements, contact us.

At Visa & Citizenship Lawyers, we can assist you in:

  • Determining your eligibility for the labour agreement streams,
  • Exploring visa pathway options for both the business and workers,
  • Exploring the best labour agreement option for you,
  • Contacting the relevant authority or Department and negotiating with them to obtain a labour agreement,
  • Reviewing labour agreements, and
  • Preparing and lodging your Labour Agreement, nomination and visa applications.