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3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2010 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/12/2010   
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FEATURE ARTICLE 2: AUSTRALIA'S RECENT TEMPORARY MIGRANTS—WHO, HOW, WHERE AND WHY


INTRODUCTION

In recent years, the main driver for increasing net overseas migration (NOM), and therefore Australia's population, has been the substantial growth in temporary migrants to Australia's shores. This is unlike that of previous decades when permanent migration was more the norm. In the context of official population counts, temporary migrants are visitors who have stayed in Australia, or residents who have departed from Australia, for 12 months or more and have not migrated permanently. Final migration data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show temporary migration contributed 44% (203,800 persons) to Australia's population growth in the year ended 31 December 2008. A further 19% was contributed by permanent arrivals while New Zealand citizens contributed 8%. Negative contributions were made by Australian citizens (-2%) and the remaining other group (-1%). In all, NOM contributed 68% of Australia's population growth in the year ended 31 December 2008.

Using the most recent final data available from the ABS, this article will only consider temporary visa holders arriving and departing Australia (the 'who') and their contribution to NOM as seen in the graph below. It will not discuss the temporary movements of New Zealand and Australian citizens who cross the national border. Based on temporary visa holders, the article will also examine the main visa subclasses used by these migrants (the 'how'), their countries of birth (the 'where') and the main reasons they reported for their travel (the 'why').

NOM(a), Major groups(b), Australia - 2004 to 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Major groups(b), Australia—2004 to 2008


Indications are that NOM peaked in 2009 and is now declining. Preliminary NOM estimates, not shown above but published in this issue of Australian Demographic Statistics, June quarter 2010 (cat. no. 3101.0) clearly record the decrease. Comparison of quarterly data, on a year to year basis, shows that for each quarter, commencing June quarter 2009, NOM is lower than for the same quarter of the previous year. This decrease in the net figure for overseas migration has been impacted by a decrease in arrivals but also by an increase in departures. While the estimates for 2009 are preliminary, they do provide an insight into the direction NOM estimates may take.

It is important to note that the analysis in this article refers to the net contribution to population change of persons travelling on various temporary visas. The net contribution is the difference between NOM arrivals and NOM departures in a reference period for persons holding the specific visa at the time of arrival or departure. This is shown as the NOM figure throughout the article.

The analysis is based on final NOM data from the ABS' analytical Travellers' Characteristics Data Base and covers the 2004 to 2008 calendar year period. An individual's actual true travel behaviour and associated characteristics are only available from final NOM data, as these can only be accurately recorded at the end of the 16 month reference period following a traveller's initial border crossing. Therefore, the temporary visa status is only able to be obtained from final NOM data from the Travellers' Characteristics Data Base.


'12/16 month rule' methodology

All data in this article are based on the '12/16 month rule' methodology for calculating NOM and are only available from December quarter 2003. Further information on the current methodology ('12/16 month rule') and the reasons for the change in method can be found under the Explanatory Notes tab, available with the electronic release of Migration, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 3412.0) in the Technical Note -'12/16 month rule' Methodology for Calculating Net Overseas Migration from September quarter 2006 and onwards. NOM data based on the '12/16 month rule' methodology were not used in Australia's official population counts until September quarter 2006.

The '12/16 month rule' includes in Estimated Resident Population (ERP) a traveller who is in Australia for a total of 12 months or more over a 16 month period, or conversely, excludes from ERP a traveller who is out of Australia for a total of 12 months or more over a 16 month period.

Hence, NOM is the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia (NOM arrivals) and emigration from Australia (NOM departures) based on an international traveller's duration of stay being in or out of Australia for 12 months or more. For further information on NOM arrivals and NOM departures, see the Glossary attached to this publication.


WHO - THE TEMPORARY VISA HOLDERS

In 2008, the number of temporary visa holders arriving in Australia was 287,700 persons, representing 54% of all NOM arrivals. Five years earlier (2004), the number of temporary visa holders arriving was 155,300 persons, or 44% of all NOM arrivals. The number of temporary visa holders departing Australia in 2008 numbered 83,900 persons, or 38% of all NOM departures. In 2004, the number of temporary visa holders departing was 64,000 persons, or 30%.

When temporary visa holders in 2004 and 2008 were compared, the excess of NOM arrivals on NOM departures was higher in 2008 than in 2004. However, proportionally the net contribution to NOM from temporary visa holders (NOM arrivals minus NOM departures) was similar at 65% for 2008 and 66% in 2004.

The main growth over the five year period was in the number of temporary NOM arrivals where the increase represented 85%. While temporary NOM departures also increased, the increase was less, at 31%. Two major factors contributed to the disparity between NOM arrivals and NOM departures for those travelling on temporary visas. The first was the time lag between commencing and finishing courses undertaken by students. The second was that travellers can change their visa while onshore. This was relevant to most travellers but was particularly so for students, business long-stay (subclass 457) and working holiday visa holders.

NOM(a), Temporary and non temporary visas(b) - Australia - 2004 to 2008

Temporary visas(b)
Non temporary visas(b)
Total
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM

Number(no.)

2004
155 279
64 032
91 247
195 710
148 172
47 538
350 989
212 204
138 785
2005
150 687
64 830
85 857
212 780
141 861
70 919
363 467
206 691
156 776
2006
179 672
64 464
115 208
222 541
140 328
82 213
402 213
204 792
197 421
2007
230 493
66 583
163 910
230 152
149 995
80 157
460 645
216 578
244 067
2008
287 687
83 877
203 810
248 279
136 403
111 876
535 966
220 280
315 686

Proportion of NOM(%)

2004
44.2
30.2
65.7
55.8
69.8
34.3
100.0
100.0
100.0
2005
41.5
31.4
54.8
58.5
68.6
45.2
100.0
100.0
100.0
2006
44.7
31.5
58.4
55.3
68.5
41.6
100.0
100.0
100.0
2007
50.0
30.7
67.2
50.0
69.3
32.8
100.0
100.0
100.0
2008
53.7
38.1
64.6
46.3
61.9
35.4
100.0
100.0
100.0

Growth on previous year(%)

2005 on 2004
-3.0
1.2
-5.9
8.7
-4.3
49.2
3.6
-2.6
13.0
2006 on 2005
19.2
-0.6
34.2
4.6
-1.1
15.9
10.7
-0.9
25.9
2007 on 2006
28.3
3.3
42.3
3.4
6.9
-2.5
14.5
5.8
23.6
2008 on 2007
24.8
26.0
24.3
7.9
-9.1
39.6
16.4
1.7
29.3

(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.



Age and sex

The age structure of temporary visa holders contributing to NOM is different to the age structure of non temporary visa holders. Temporary visa holders are those travelling on temporary entrant visas while non temporary visa holders include those travelling on permanent visas, New Zealand citizens, Australian citizens and 'other' persons travelling (e.g. non Australian citizens who are permanent residents and those on onshore and unknown visas).

In 2008, temporary visa holders in the 15-34 years age group (younger workers and students) contributed 50% of total NOM, while the remaining persons in the age group (the non temporary visa holders) contributed an additional 16%. Temporary and non temporary visa holders aged 0-14 years showed a reverse variation, at 6% and 9% respectively, suggesting children accompanying family members. For the remaining temporary and non temporary visa holders (35 years and over) the proportions were at 8% and 11% respectively.

The final data from 2008 showed there was a net of 112,600 male temporary visa holders contributing to Australia's population. In comparison, there was a smaller net of 91,300 female temporary visa holders.

NOM POPULATION STRUCTURES(a), Temporary and non temporary visas(b) - Age and sex, Australia - 2008
Diagram: NOM POPULATION STRUCTURES(a), Temporary and non temporary visas(b)—Age and sex, Australia—2008



HOW - THE VISAS USED

The vast majority of people entering and leaving Australia, travel using official documents, including passports and visas that have been approved by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). A breakdown of the major groups and visa types, which have contributed to NOM over the five year period ending December 2008, is shown in the following table. It provides an insight into the main groups which contributed to the recent increases experienced in Australia's NOM figures.

During the five year period, temporary visa holders, contributing to NOM, rose by 123%, permanent visa holders by 34% and New Zealand citizens by 109%. Conversely, the negative net of -10,400 Australian citizens in 2008, had fallen by 66% from five years earlier. Overall, NOM more than doubled during this same period, increasing 127%.

Final NOM data are currently only available from 2004 to 2008 and during this time temporary visa holders have always made a net contribution of over 50% of total NOM. However, the proportion has varied, ranging from a low of 55% in 2005 to a high of 67% in 2007. During this period, the group experiencing the largest decrease was the permanent visa group, falling from 49% in 2004 to 29% in 2008. New Zealand travellers maintained their contribution, around 12% to 14% over the five year period. Australian citizens continued to negatively influence NOM, although the negative influence decreased between 2004 and 2008; -22% in 2004 compared with -3% in 2008.

Year to year growth in NOM has been strong with the highest yearly growth being between 2007 and 2008 (29%). Temporary visas growth, year to year, was mainly positive with the exception of the decline between 2004 and 2005. The highest yearly growth, in temporary visas, occurred between 2006 and 2007 (42%).

NOM(a), Major groups(b) - Australia - 2004 to 2008

Major group(b)
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

Number(no.)

Temporary visas
91 247
85 857
115 208
163 910
203 810
Permanent visas
67 458
75 867
82 297
83 872
90 468
New Zealand citizen
18 304
22 260
25 537
32 439
38 265
Australian citizen
-30 502
-18 405
-15 763
-25 051
-10 397
Other(c)
-7 722
-8 803
-9 858
-11 103
-6 460
Total
138 785
156 776
197 421
244 067
315 686

Proportion(%)

Temporary visas
65.7
54.8
58.4
67.2
64.6
Permanent visas
48.6
48.4
41.7
34.4
28.7
New Zealand citizen
13.2
14.2
12.9
13.3
12.1
Australian citizen
-22.0
-11.7
-8.0
-10.3
-3.3
Other(c)
-5.6
-5.6
-5.0
-4.5
-2.0
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Growth on previous year(%)

Temporary visas
. .
-5.9
34.2
42.3
24.3
Permanent visas
. .
12.5
8.5
1.9
7.9
New Zealand citizen
. .
21.6
14.7
27.0
18.0
Australian citizen
. .
-39.7
-14.4
58.9
-58.5
Other(c)
. .
14.0
12.0
12.6
-41.8
Total
. .
13.0
25.9
23.6
29.3

. . not applicable
(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Includes residents returning (i.e. non Australian citizens who are permanent residents), onshore visas and visa unknown.


Those temporary visa holders in Australia who contribute to NOM may end up residing in any of the states and territories. When 2004 and 2008 were compared, all states and territories increased the net contribution of persons travelling on temporary visas, with the number of persons, for Australia, increasing from 91,200 in 2004 to 203,800 in 2008. New South Wales received the greatest growth numerically, doubling its representation; 33,200 persons in 2004 (36% of all NOM temporary visas) compared with 70,000 persons in 2008 (34% of all temporary visas). However, the Northern Territory increased its representation threefold; increasing from 470 persons in 2004 to 1,600 persons in 2008. Similarly, Western Australia's increase was almost threefold; increasing from 9,800 persons in 2004 to 28,400 persons in 2008.

NOM(a), All temporary visas(b), Australia - 2004 and 2008
Graph: NOM(a), All temporary visas(b), Australia—2004 and 2008



International student visas

International student visas are composed of the vocational education and training sector, the higher education sector and other student visa groups. People travelling on international student visas were the major contributors to the temporary visa holders group for each year between 2004 and 2008 and the major contributor to increasing NOM, as seen in the following table. The highest proportion was recorded in 2004 (63%, or 57,800 students) and the lowest proportion in 2005 (50%, or 42,800 students). The comparative proportion for 2008 was 60% (121,700 students). The contribution to NOM, from international student visas, was 39% in 2008 compared with 42% in 2004.

In 2008, within the student group, those travelling on higher education visas were the largest group, representing 31% (63,600 students) of all travellers on temporary visas and 20% of NOM. The vocational education and training sector represented 17% (35,600 students) of the temporary group and 11% of NOM. The other student group represented 11% (22,500 students) and 7% respectively.

The net contribution of people using student visas increased substantially over the five year period ending December 2008. In 2008, there were 121,700 student visas used by travellers compared with 57,800 in 2004, an increase of 110%. The growth was in NOM arrivals where the increase represented 91%. While NOM departures also increased, the increase was less, 37%.

The large difference between NOM arrivals and NOM departures for international students is, in part, the result of the time lag effect of a student's course duration. For example, a student arriving today will not necessarily become a NOM departure until the end of their course in two, three or four years' time.

NOM(a), Temporary visas(b) - Australia - 2004 and 2008

2004
2008
Type of visa(b)
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM

Number(no.)

Vocational education and training sector
8 572
3 214
5 358
40 194
4 610
35 584
Higher education sector
29 857
7 847
22 010
80 467
16 888
63 579
Student other(c)
40 464
9 998
30 466
29 813
7 280
22 533
Total international student visas
78 893
21 059
57 834
150 474
28 778
121 696
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
16 627
7 130
9 497
49 558
11 940
37 618
Visitor(d)
38 923
19 429
19 494
49 795
21 380
28 415
Working holiday
12 154
3 227
8 927
32 452
9 344
23 108
Other temporary visas
8 682
13 187
-4 505
5 408
12 435
-7 027
All temporary visas
155 279
64 032
91 247
287 687
83 877
203 810
Total
350 989
212 204
138 785
535 966
220 280
315 686

Proportion of temporary NOM(%)

Vocational education and training sector
5.5
5.0
5.9
14.0
5.5
17.5
Higher education sector
19.2
12.3
24.1
28.0
20.1
31.2
Student other(c)
26.1
15.6
33.4
10.4
8.7
11.1
Total international student visas
50.8
32.9
63.4
52.3
34.3
59.7
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
10.7
11.1
10.4
17.2
14.2
18.5
Visitor(d)
25.1
30.3
21.4
17.3
25.5
13.9
Working holiday
7.8
5.0
9.8
11.3
11.1
11.3
Other temporary visas
5.6
20.6
-4.9
1.9
14.8
-3.4
All temporary visas
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Proportion of total NOM(%)

Vocational education and training sector
2.4
1.5
3.9
7.5
2.1
11.3
Higher education sector
8.5
3.7
15.9
15.0
7.7
20.1
Student other(c)
11.5
4.7
22.0
5.6
3.3
7.1
Total international student visas
22.5
9.9
41.7
28.1
13.1
38.5
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
4.7
3.4
6.8
9.2
5.4
11.9
Visitor(d)
11.1
9.2
14.0
9.3
9.7
9.0
Working holiday
3.5
1.5
6.4
6.1
4.2
7.3
Other temporary visas
2.5
6.2
-3.2
1.0
5.6
-2.2
All temporary visas
44.2
30.2
65.7
53.7
38.1
64.6

(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Due to legislative change, from 1 July 2004, the Masters by Coursework qualification moved from the Postgraduate Research Sector to the Higher Education Sector. See the DIAC website <www.immi.gov.au> - Student Visa Changes for Masters by Coursework Students.
(d) Visitor visas include tourists, business visitors, medical treatment and other.


However, the difference can also be due to a change of a student's circumstances at the end of their study time. For example, after completing studies, a student may apply for an onshore permanent residence visa or another visa such as a bridging or a temporary business long-stay (subclass 457) visa. Therefore, some students may change their visa and residency status whilst onshore. In these instances, the original student visa recorded with a traveller's NOM arrival has ceased and the traveller will now hold a new visa of a different category, or may have permanent residency status. Therefore, if and when the traveller departs Australia and remains away for 12 months or more out of the following 16 month period (by which means they are recorded as a NOM departure), their visa category will not be based on their initial student visa category. It is only at this stage that the NOM system will record the change of visa by a traveller either to an onshore or other type of visa.

Care should be taken with student visas, when analysing the net figure (i.e. NOM) on its own, as with all other temporary visas such as business long-stay (subclass 457), working holiday makers and other long-term visas. Over the last 10 financial years, onshore permanent visas granted by DIAC have increased fourfold from close to 15,000 persons in 1998-99 to 63,400 in 2008-09(footnote 1) .

In numeric terms, all states and territories recorded increased growth from the net contribution of persons travelling on international student visas, when 2004 and 2008 were compared. New South Wales recorded the highest number of international students, in both years; more than doubling its representation. Queensland recorded the largest substantial increase (121%, increasing from 7,600 persons in 2004 to 16,900 in 2008) followed by Victoria (118%, increasing from 19,000 in 2004 to 41,400 in 2008). For Australia, international student visas holders contributing to NOM increased 110%; up from 57,800 in 2004 to 121,700 in 2008.

NOM(a), International student visas(b), Australia - 2004 and 2008
Graph: NOM(a), International student visas(b), Australia—2004 and 2008



Business long-stay (subclass 457) visas

In 2008, the net contribution of persons with business long-stay (subclass 457) visas was 37,600; 18% of all temporary visas and 12% of NOM. In 2004, the comparative number was 9,500; 10% of all temporary visa holders and 7% of NOM.

The 2008 net contribution of business long-stay visa holders (37,600 persons) was comprised of 49,600 NOM arrivals and 11,900 NOM departures. Five years earlier the number of business long-stay visa holders (9,500) was comprised of 16,600 NOM arrivals and 7,100 NOM departures. Once again the lag between arrivals and departures and the possibility of onshore visa acquisition was evident, as just demonstrated for those arriving on student visas.

Business 457 visa holders can stay in Australia for up to four years, and they too, like students, can apply for other visas during their stay. Financial year information published by DIAC shows that in the year 2008-09, 39,200 people who held a business 457 visa were granted a permanent residence visa. The majority of these (91%) were granted a permanent residence visa under the Employer Nomination Scheme, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, a labour agreement or under the Skilled Independent visa program(footnote 2) .

The strong representation of business 457 visas in NOM figures coincides with the buoyant economy in Australia over recent years. Despite the Global Financial Crisis, Australia has maintained relatively low unemployment and a recognised skill shortage for specific occupations.

Business long-stay (subclass 457) visas granted by DIAC increased strongly between 2006-07 (87,300) and 2007-08 (110,600). However, between 2007-08 and 2008-09 the numbers granted by DIAC fell 8%; decreasing to 101,300 in 2008-09(footnote 3) .

In numeric terms, the net contribution of persons travelling on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas increased almost fourfold for Australia, when 2004 and 2008 were compared. While New South Wales recorded the highest number of persons on business visas in 2004, it was only the third highest in 2008. Western Australia had the highest number of persons on business visas in 2008; 11,500 persons, up from 1,600 persons in 2004, over a sevenfold increase. Queensland recorded the second highest number of persons on business visas; 8,800 persons in 2008, up from 1,300 in 2004, nearly a sevenfold increase.

NOM(a), Business long-stay (subclass 457) visas(b), Australia - 2004 and 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Business long-stay (subclass 457) visas(b), Australia—2004 and 2008



Visitor (long-stay) visas

In 2008, the net contribution of persons with visitor (long-stay) visas was 28,400; 14% of all temporary visas and 9% of NOM. In 2004, the comparative number was 19,500; 21% of all temporary visas and 14% of NOM. Visitor (long-stay) visas include tourists, business visitors, people travelling for medical treatment as well as others requiring a long-stay visit.

The 2008 net contribution of visitor (long-stay) visa holders (28,400 persons) was comprised of 49,800 NOM arrivals and 21,400 NOM departures. Five years earlier, the net contribution of visitor (long-stay) visa holders (19,500 persons) was comprised of 38,900 NOM arrivals and 19,400 NOM departures.

Of the visitor (long-stay) visas used by travellers over the five years ending December 2008, an average of 80% were issued to tourists, while a further average of 17% were issued to business visitors.

With the exception of Tasmania, all states and territories increased the net contribution of persons on visitor (long-stay) visas, when 2004 and 2008 were compared. The largest movement was for Western Australia which was the only state or territory to more than double; increasing from 1,700 persons in 2004 to 4,100 persons in 2008. While Tasmania's visitor numbers were small and remained positive, its representation decreased when 2004 and 2008 were compared; falling from 140 persons in 2004 to 90 persons in 2008.

NOM(a), Visitor (long-stay) visas(b), Australia - 2004 and 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Visitor (long-stay) visas(b), Australia—2004 and 2008



Working holiday visas

In 2008, the net contribution of persons with working holiday visas was 23,100; 11% of all temporary visas and 7% of NOM. In 2004, working holiday visas numbered 8,900; 10% of all temporary visas and 6% of NOM.

The net contribution of working holiday visa holders (23,100 persons) in 2008 was comprised of 32,500 NOM arrivals and 9,300 NOM departures. The comparative figures, for 2004, were a net contribution of 8,900 persons on working holiday visas, comprised of 12,200 NOM arrivals and 3,200 NOM departures.

Australia's strong economic standing during recent international financial events, and relatively low unemployment rates over the last few years have increased the appeal for international travellers to visit and work temporarily in Australia. Working holiday makers are permitted to stay for a period of up to 12 months from the date of initial entry to Australia. However, the fact that many working holiday makers stay more than 12 months and therefore contribute to NOM estimates can be, in part, the result of those working holiday visa holders who have undertaken seasonal work (e.g. in regional Australia or tourist destinations) being eligible to apply for a second working holiday visa. For example, there were 21,700 second working holiday visas granted by DIAC in 2008-09(footnote 4) . It can also be that those who have arrived on a working holiday visa may have applied for, and been granted, a different visa whilst onshore.

When 2004 and 2008 were compared, the net contribution of persons travelling on working holiday visas increased in numeric terms for all states and territories. Queensland recorded the largest increase; increasing from 1,300 person in 2004 to 5,200 in 2008, nearly a fourfold increase. Although the numbers were small, the Northern Territory also recorded close to a fourfold increase in travellers on working holiday visas. The other significant gain was for Western Australia; increasing from 960 persons in 2004 to 3,300 in 2008.

NOM(a), Working holiday visas(b), Australia - 2004 and 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Working holiday visas(b), Australia—2004 and 2008



WHERE - COUNTRIES OF BIRTH OF TRAVELLERS

Between 2004 and 2008, the source countries of birth of travellers contributing to NOM numbered over 200 countries. For those who contributed to temporary NOM in 2008, the top 10 countries of birth (based on 2008) contributed 72%.

For the temporary visa group, people born in India, recorded the highest proportionate input to temporary NOM for the period 2006 to 2008, increasing from 17% to 23%. India replaced China, which was the highest contributor in 2004 and 2005. India-born travellers with temporary visas contributed 15% to total NOM in 2008 while travellers from China contributed 9%.

In 2008, there were 56 times more NOM arrivals than NOM departures for temporary visa holders who were Nepal-born travellers. In part, this may be due to the relatively small number of Nepal-born arriving in earlier years, especially prior to 2007; NOM arrivals increased around 260% between 2006 and 2007 while NOM departures remained relatively stable over the five year period. Additionally, it should be kept in mind that visa status can change while onshore. For South Africa-born travellers there were 14 times more NOM arrivals than NOM departures for temporary visa holders, and there were 11 times more India-born NOM arrivals than NOM departures.

NOM(a), Temporary visas(b) - Country of birth(c) - 2004 and 2008

2004
2008
Country of birth(c)
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM
NOM arrivals
NOM departures
NOM

Number(no.)

India
13 718
2 166
11 552
51 228
4 728
46 500
China(d)
22 021
4 691
17 330
37 642
8 140
29 502
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
19 543
8 631
10 912
27 148
8 863
18 285
South Africa
2 727
526
2 201
9 899
711
9 188
Nepal
342
175
167
9 330
168
9 162
South Korea
8 660
3 613
5 047
15 601
6 866
8 735
Philippines
2 562
691
1 871
9 834
1 694
8 140
Vietnam
1 817
713
1 104
7 793
1 186
6 607
Malaysia
8 747
3 332
5 415
9 285
3 962
5 323
Ireland
2 837
1 408
1 429
7 153
1 934
5 219
Other countries
72 305
38 086
34 219
102 774
45 625
57 149
All countries - all temporary visas
155 279
64 032
91 247
287 687
83 877
203 810
All countries - total NOM
350 989
212 204
138 785
535 966
220 280
315 686

Proportion of temporary NOM(%)

India
8.8
3.4
12.7
17.8
5.6
22.8
China(d)
14.2
7.3
19.0
13.1
9.7
14.5
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
12.6
13.5
12.0
9.4
10.6
9.0
South Africa
1.8
0.8
2.4
3.4
0.8
4.5
Nepal
0.2
0.3
0.2
3.2
0.2
4.5
South Korea
5.6
5.6
5.5
5.4
8.2
4.3
Philippines
1.6
1.1
2.1
3.4
2.0
4.0
Vietnam
1.2
1.1
1.2
2.7
1.4
3.2
Malaysia
5.6
5.2
5.9
3.2
4.7
2.6
Ireland
1.8
2.2
1.6
2.5
2.3
2.6
Other countries
46.6
59.5
37.5
35.7
54.4
28.0
All countries - % of temporary NOM
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Proportion of total NOM(%)

India
3.9
1.0
8.3
9.6
2.1
14.7
China(d)
6.3
2.2
12.5
7.0
3.7
9.3
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
5.6
4.1
7.9
5.1
4.0
5.8
South Africa
0.8
0.2
1.6
1.8
0.3
2.9
Nepal
0.1
0.1
0.1
1.7
0.1
2.9
South Korea
2.5
1.7
3.6
2.9
3.1
2.8
Philippines
0.7
0.3
1.3
1.8
0.8
2.6
Vietnam
0.5
0.3
0.8
1.5
0.5
2.1
Malaysia
2.5
1.6
3.9
1.7
1.8
1.7
Ireland
0.8
0.7
1.0
1.3
0.9
1.7
Other countries
20.6
17.9
24.7
19.2
20.7
18.1
All countries - % of total NOM
44.2
30.2
65.7
53.7
38.1
64.6

(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Top 10 countries of birth, based on all temporary visa holders contributing to NOM in 2008.
(d) China (excludes SARs and Taiwan).
(e) United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.


While NOM arrivals exceeded NOM departures for all top 10 countries, the magnitude in the disparity for each of the countries varied greatly. For example, for South Korea-born, there were just over twice as many NOM arrivals as NOM departures. However, at the other extreme were Nepal-born, with 56 times more.


Top 10 countries and temporary visas used

NOM(a), Temporary visa type(b) - Country of birth(c): Number and proportion of all temporary visas, Australia - 2008

TEMPORARY VISA TYPE(b)
Country of birth(c)
Vocational education and training sector
Higher education sector
Student other
Total international student visas
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
Visitor
Working holiday
Other temporary visas
All temporary visas

Number(no.)

India
12 498
28 088
423
41 009
4 485
1 744
5
-743
46 500
China(d)
4 134
15 654
6 666
26 454
2 973
1 268
72
-1 265
29 502
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
511
187
42
740
6 553
5 434
6 040
-482
18 285
South Africa
121
111
25
257
7 152
1 458
186
135
9 188
Nepal
7 184
1 696
79
8 959
191
55
-
-43
9 162
South Korea
1 216
273
1 440
2 929
95
1 744
4 570
-603
8 735
Philippines
812
269
150
1 231
6 743
552
10
-396
8 140
Vietnam
304
3 994
1 175
5 473
626
637
3
-132
6 607
Malaysia
365
2 028
1 052
3 445
567
1 722
3
-414
5 323
Ireland
6
17
4
27
79
619
4 771
-277
5 219
Other countries
8 433
11 262
11 477
31 172
8 154
13 182
7 448
-2 807
57 149
All countries
35 584
63 579
22 533
121 696
37 618
28 415
23 108
-7 027
203 810

Proportion of all temporary visas(%)

India
6.1
13.8
0.2
20.1
2.2
0.9
-
-0.4
22.8
China(d)
2.0
7.7
3.3
13.0
1.5
0.6
-
-0.6
14.5
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
0.3
0.1
-
0.4
3.2
2.7
3.0
-0.2
9.0
South Africa
0.1
0.1
-
0.1
3.5
0.7
0.1
0.1
4.5
Nepal
3.5
0.8
-
4.4
0.1
-
-
-
4.5
South Korea
0.6
0.1
0.7
1.4
-
0.9
2.2
-0.3
4.3
Philippines
0.4
0.1
0.1
0.6
3.3
0.3
-
-0.2
4.0
Vietnam
0.1
2.0
0.6
2.7
0.3
0.3
-
-0.1
3.2
Malaysia
0.2
1.0
0.5
1.7
0.3
0.8
-
-0.2
2.6
Ireland
-
-
-
-
-
0.3
2.3
-0.1
2.6
Other countries
4.1
5.5
5.6
15.3
4.0
6.5
3.7
-1.4
28.0
All countries
17.5
31.2
11.1
59.7
18.5
13.9
11.3
-3.4
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Top 10 countries of birth, based on all temporary visa holders contributing to NOM in 2008.
(d) China (excludes SARs and Taiwan).
(e) United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.


While New Zealand citizens were an important component of NOM (12%), they were not in the top 10 countries of birth for temporary visa holders. Since the introduction of the Trans-Tasman travel agreement in 1973, New Zealand citizens are free to visit, live and work in Australia at any time. New Zealand citizens are not required to apply for a visa before entering Australia. They need only a valid New Zealand passport and are issued with a specific New Zealand citizen visa (Special Category Visa) at the Australian border.

For all temporary NOM travellers in 2008, 60% travelled on international student visas. India-born students contributed 20% of all visa holders contributing to temporary NOM, followed by China-born students (13%) and Nepal-born students (4%). The second visa group, business long-stay (subclass 457) accounted for 18% of all temporary visa holders. South Africa-born (4%) recorded the highest proportion of travellers in this group, followed by Philippines-born and the United Kingdom-born (each 3%).

Travellers from different countries were more likely to utilise specific visa types to travel as seen in the following table showing temporary visas by visa type and the proportion for each country of birth. In 2008, just over 88% of all India-born travellers on temporary entry visas were students, with 60% being higher education sector students. For Nepal-born, 98% travelled on student visas with vocational education and training sector visas accounting for 78% of the travellers.

NOM(a), Temporary visa type(b) - Country of birth(c): Proportion for each country of birth, Australia - 2008

Temporary visa type(b)
Vocational education and training sector
Higher education sector
Student other
Total international student visas
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
Visitor
Working holiday
Other temporary visas
All temporary visas
Country of birth(c)
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

India
26.9
60.4
0.9
88.2
9.6
3.8
-
-1.6
100.0
China(d)
14.0
53.1
22.6
89.7
10.1
4.3
0.2
-4.3
100.0
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
2.8
1.0
0.2
4.0
35.8
29.7
33.0
-2.6
100.0
South Africa
1.3
1.2
0.3
2.8
77.8
15.9
2.0
1.5
100.0
Nepal
78.4
18.5
0.9
97.8
2.1
0.6
-
-0.5
100.0
South Korea
13.9
3.1
16.5
33.5
1.1
20.0
52.3
-6.9
100.0
Philippines
10.0
3.3
1.8
15.1
82.8
6.8
0.1
-4.9
100.0
Vietnam
4.6
60.5
17.8
82.8
9.5
9.6
-
-2.0
100.0
Malaysia
6.9
38.1
19.8
64.7
10.7
32.4
0.1
-7.8
100.0
Ireland
0.1
0.3
0.1
0.5
1.5
11.9
91.4
-5.3
100.0
Other countries
14.8
19.7
20.1
54.5
14.3
23.1
13.0
-4.9
100.0
All countries
17.5
31.2
11.1
59.7
18.5
13.9
11.3
-3.4
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Top 10 countries of birth, based on all temporary visa holders contributing to NOM in 2008.
(d) China (excludes SARs and Taiwan).
(e) United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.


Student visas were not always the main visa for each of the top 10 countries. Around 83% of Philippines-born and 78% of South Africa-born travelled on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas. For Ireland-born, 91% travelled on working holiday visas, while 52% of South Korea-born also travelled on working holiday visas. For the United Kingdom-born, the travellers were more evenly spread across business long-stay (subclass 457) (36%), working holiday (33%), and visitor (30%) visas.

The following table shows temporary visas by country of birth and proportion for each visa type. For the main temporary visa type, those travelling on international student visas, 34% were India-born and 22% were China-born. For travellers on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas, the main country of birth was South Africa (19%), followed by Philippines-born (18%) and the United Kingdom-born (17%). The visitor group was led by the United Kingdom-born (19%) while the main countries of birth for people travelling on working holiday visas were the United Kingdom (26%), Ireland (21%) and South Korea (20%).

NOM(a), Temporary visa type(b) - Country of birth(c): Proportion for each visa type, Australia - 2008

Temporary visa type(b)
Vocational education and training sector
Higher education sector
Student other
Total international student visas
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
Visitor
Working holiday
Other temporary visas
All temporary visas
Country of birth(c)
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

India
35.1
44.2
1.9
33.7
11.9
6.1
-
10.6
22.8
China(d)
11.6
24.6
29.6
21.7
7.9
4.5
0.3
18.0
14.5
UK, CIs & IOM(e)
1.4
0.3
0.2
0.6
17.4
19.1
26.1
6.9
9.0
South Africa
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.2
19.0
5.1
0.8
-1.9
4.5
Nepal
20.2
2.7
0.4
7.4
0.5
0.2
-
0.6
4.5
South Korea
3.4
0.4
6.4
2.4
0.3
6.1
19.8
8.6
4.3
Philippines
2.3
0.4
0.7
1.0
17.9
1.9
-
5.6
4.0
Vietnam
0.9
6.3
5.2
4.5
1.7
2.2
-
1.9
3.2
Malaysia
1.0
3.2
4.7
2.8
1.5
6.1
-
5.9
2.6
Ireland
-
-
-
-
0.2
2.2
20.6
3.9
2.6
Other countries
23.7
17.7
50.9
25.6
21.7
46.4
32.2
39.9
28.0
All countries
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) NOM estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) Top 10 countries of birth, based on all temporary visa holders contributing to NOM in 2008.
(d) China (excludes SARs and Taiwan).
(e) United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.



Country of birth, median age and sex ratio

The median age of people on temporary visas, while in Australia, was 25.8 years for males and 26.0 years for females in 2008. Of the top 10 countries of birth for temporary visa holders, males (22.8 years) and females (23.1 years) born in China recorded the youngest median ages. China had a high proportion of students amongst its travellers. The highest median ages were recorded by Philippines-born, 34.3 years for males and 31.0 years for females. People born in the Philippines travelled mainly on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas indicating they were in Australia as employer sponsored skilled workers.

NOM(a), Temporary visas(b), Country of birth(c), Median age(d), Australia - 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Temporary visas(b), Country of birth(c), Median age(d), Australia—2008


More men than women travelled on temporary entrant visas in 2008. The sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) was 123 males for every 100 females. For the top 10 countries of birth, contributing to NOM, there was considerable variation in the sex ratios. The country that made the highest contribution to NOM, via temporary visas, also recorded the highest sex ratio. India-born (mainly travelling on student visas) had a sex ratio of 208 males per 100 females, far higher than the sex ratio recorded by all temporary visa holders (123). Ireland-born (175 males per 100 females) mainly travelling on working holiday visas and Nepal-born (174), mainly travelling on student visas, also recorded high sex ratios.

Not all of the top 10 countries, contributing to NOM via temporary visas, recorded more male than female travellers in 2008. For China-born, the sex ratio was 83 males per 100 females, while for Vietnam-born, the sex ratio was 88 males. Travellers from these two countries were mainly travelling on student visas.

NOM(a), Temporary visas(b), Country of birth(c), Sex ratio(d), Australia - 2008
Graph: NOM(a), Temporary visas(b), Country of birth(c), Sex ratio(d), Australia—2008



WHY - MAIN REASON FOR TRAVEL

The reasons people travel to and from Australia are many and varied. They are also self-reported on the Australian incoming and outgoing passenger cards for all temporary movements. Reason data are based on the traveller's intention at the time of arrival to, or departure from, Australia. Travellers, can and may change their reason for journey while onshore or offshore. These changes are not recorded in this analysis.

The data presented in this section are based on NOM arrivals data only. Reason for journey information for permanent migration and return movements is not available from the passenger card.

The main intended reason for journey given by all NOM arrivals, travelling on temporary visas, was education at 45%. The other main reasons were holiday (15%) business (11%) and employment (10%).

NOM ARRIVALS(a), Temporary visas(b), Reason for journey(c), Australia - 2008
Graph: NOM ARRIVALS(a), Temporary visas(b), Reason for journey(c), Australia—2008


The main stated reason for journey is usually aligned to the visa issued to the traveller, but this is not always the case. It should be kept in mind that while the visa is an official document, issued by DIAC, travellers are free to insert any reason on the incoming passenger card. The following table shows the relationship between travel visa and stated reason for journey for temporary NOM arrivals in 2008.

NOM ARRIVALS(a), Temporary visas(b) - Reason for journey(c): Proportion, Australia - 2008

Reason for journey(c)
Convention or conference
Business
Visiting friends or relatives
Holiday
Employment
Education
Other & not stated
Total
Temporary visas(b)
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Vocational education and training sector
0.3
15.9
1.5
0.4
0.8
76.4
4.7
100.0
Higher education sector
0.3
11.0
1.1
0.3
0.8
81.4
5.0
100.0
Student other
0.1
3.2
1.8
0.9
0.6
85.0
8.5
100.0
Total international student visas
0.2
10.8
1.3
0.5
0.8
80.8
5.6
100.0
Business long-stay (subclass 457)
6.0
19.7
4.9
5.6
38.2
5.7
19.9
100.0
Visitor
2.0
9.5
28.3
42.9
3.0
2.9
11.4
100.0
Working holiday
1.2
0.4
4.8
57.2
21.1
4.5
10.7
100.0
Other temporary visas
2.6
7.7
3.8
3.2
17.1
16.5
49.0
100.0
All temporary visas
1.7
10.9
7.1
15.1
10.2
44.6
10.5
100.0

(a) NOM arrival estimates are final and based on the 12/16 month rule methodology. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards.
(b) The visa category information in this table represents the number of visas based on the visa type at the time of a traveller's specific movement. It is this specific movement that has been used to calculate NOM.
(c) As self-reported on the incoming passenger card.



SUMMARY

With the introduction of the Travellers' Characteristics Data Base, the ABS has been able to investigate information about the travellers who contribute to NOM as they cross Australia's borders. The investigations have been very revealing regarding the numbers contributing to NOM, their characteristics and, in particular, the effect that temporary migration has made on the increasing Australian population.

Based on the new '12/16 month rule' methodology, it has been established that NOM increased by 127% over the five years ending December 2008; increasing from a net of 138,800 persons in 2004 to 315,700 persons in 2008. Temporary NOM (the net contribution of persons travelling on temporary visas) was the key contributor. It represented 65% of total NOM in 2008, very similar to the proportion in 2004 (66%). When temporary visa holders in 2004 and 2008 were compared, the excess of NOM arrivals on NOM departures was higher in 2008 than in 2004.

In 2008, the number of temporary visa holders arriving in Australia was 287,700 persons, representing 54% of all NOM arrivals. Five years earlier (2004), the number of temporary visa holders arriving was 155,300 persons, or 44% of all NOM arrivals. The number of temporary visa holders departing Australia in 2008 numbered 83,900 persons, or 38% of all NOM departures. In 2004, the number of temporary visa holders departing was 64,000 persons, or 30%.

The main growth over the five year period was in the number of temporary NOM arrivals where the increase represented 85%. While temporary NOM departures also increased, the increase was less, at 31%. Two major factors contributed to the disparity between NOM arrivals and NOM departures for those travelling on temporary visas. The first was the time lag between commencing and finishing courses undertaken by students. The second was that travellers can change their visa while onshore. This was relevant to most travellers but was particularly so for students, business long-stay (subclass 457) and working holiday visa holders.

The vast majority of temporary migrants were those with student visas. In 2008, 60% of all temporary visa holders and 39% of total NOM travellers were issued student visas to cross Australia's borders. The other main visa categories, as a proportion of the temporary visa group, were business long-stay (subclass 457) (18%), visitor (long-stay) visas (14%) and working holiday visas (11%). A negative contribution (-3%) to NOM, via temporary visas, was made by the other visa category.

In numeric terms, over the five years ending December 2008, the net contribution of persons travelling on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas increased fourfold (from 9,500 in 2004 to 37,600 in 2008) while the net contribution for working holiday visas increased 2.6 times and student visas more than doubled.

When 2004 and 2008 were compared, all states and territories gained population from NOM temporary visa holders. New South Wales received the greatest growth numerically, doubling its representation; 33,200 persons in 2004 (36% of all NOM temporary visas) compared with 70,000 persons in 2008 (34% of all NOM temporary visas). However, the Northern Territory increased its representation threefold; increasing from 470 persons in 2004 to 1,600 persons in 2008. Similarly, Western Australia's increase was almost threefold; increasing from 9,800 persons in 2004 to 28,400 persons in 2008.

The countries of birth of people contributing to NOM were varied, numbering over 200 in the years 2004 to 2008. Of the top 10 countries for people travelling on temporary visas in 2008, the main contributors were: India, China, and the United Kingdom. All top 10 countries, except Malaysia (which decreased by less than 100 travellers) increased their contribution to NOM when 2004 and 2008 were compared. However, the main visas they travelled under and their characteristics varied. Examples include:
  • India-born - Of the India-born, 88% of all temporary visa holders in 2008 were travelling on student visas. This represented 34% of all student visas. The median ages of males, 24.4 years, and females, 25.4 years, were similar to the median ages of all temporary visa holders (25.8 years and 26.0 years respectively). India-born recorded the highest sex ratio at 208 males per 100 females, far higher than the sex ratio for all temporary visa holders (123 males per 100 females). Between 2004 and 2008, the number of India-born temporary visa holders contributing to NOM increased fourfold (11,600 in 2004 to 46,500 in 2008).
  • China-born - For China-born, 90% of all temporary visa holders in 2008 were travelling on student visas. This represented 22% of all student visas. The median age of China-born males and females was 22.8 years and 23.1 years respectively. The sex ratio revealed more females on temporary visas than males at 83 males per 100 females. Over the five years ending December 2008, China-born temporary visa holders contributing to NOM, increased by 70% (17,300 in 2004 to 29,500 in 2008).
  • United Kingdom-born - The United Kingdom-born, with a long history of travel to and from Australia, travelled on a more varied number of visas, instead of a dominant visa class, as shown for the other countries. The highest proportion of temporary visa holders were on business long-stay (subclass 457) visas (36%), followed by working holiday visas (33%) and visitor (long-stay) visas (30%). The median ages of the United Kingdom-born were 29.7 years for males and 29.5 years for females. The sex ratio was 111 males per 100 females. Over the five years ending December 2008, the United Kingdom-born temporary visa holders contributing to NOM increased by 68% (10,900 in 2004 to 18,300 in 2008).

Discussion will continue on whether temporary migration will, in coming years, continue to make a large positive contribution to NOM, and hence the Australian population. International migration is a volatile phenomenon influenced by a wide range of demographic, social, economic and political determinants and consequences at the global, regional and national levels. The Australian Government has long-standing formal migration programs which are managed by DIAC. These programs change over time, as do the 'pull' and 'push' factors for migrants throughout the world. International events such as the Global Financial Crisis, the changing value of the Australian dollar and skill shortages also play a part, especially in terms of Australian competitiveness for attracting international students and the availability of employment opportunities. Additionally, with government reforms to the granting of some onshore and permanent residence visas, which may cease the opportunity for some temporary migrants to extend their stay in Australia, many temporary migrants are likely to leave Australia's shores as their temporary visas expire, thus boosting NOM departures. Therefore, the large numbers of temporary visa holders who have arrived in recent years may soon start to translate into large numbers of temporary visa holders departing Australia.

In recent years, Australia has seen substantial growth of temporary migration. These temporary visa holders are temporarily added to Australia's population, until their final departure, when they are then removed from official population counts. The flows of temporary migrants into, and later out of, Australia's population, contribute to the peaks and troughs experienced in NOM and therefore, the volatility experienced in population growth over recent years. It is hoped the analysis of these temporary migrants undertaken here provides an insight into the characteristics and differences between various groups and is a foundation for future analysis and research.

1 DIAC 2010, Population Flows: Immigration aspects 2008–09 edition, Ch 2 p 45. <back
2 DIAC 2010, Population Flows: Immigration aspects 2008–09 edition, Ch 3 p 64. <back
3 DIAC 2010, Population Flows: Immigration aspects 2008–09 edition, Ch 3 p 64. <back
4 DIAC 2010, Population Flows: Immigration aspects 2008–09 edition, Ch 3 p 58. <back

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