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3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/04/2009   
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MIGRANT CHARACTERISTICS AND SETTLEMENT OUTCOMES OF SECONDARY APPLICANTS


On this page:
INTRODUCTION
MIGRANT CHARACTERISTICS
BROAD SETTLEMENT OUTCOMES OF SECONDARY APPLICANTS COMPARED TO PRIMARY APPLICANTS
LIST OF REFERENCES



INTRODUCTION

Under the Migration Regulations, there are two types of visa applicants defined by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC, 2008). These are primary applicants and secondary applicants. The primary applicant must satisfy the primary criteria for the grant of a visa under the Migration Regulations. A secondary applicant is a member of the family unit of the primary applicant, i.e. their spouse, an interdependent partner, a dependent child or a dependent relative of the primary applicant or spouse.

Previous research has focused on the experiences and settlement outcomes of overseas migrants as a group. This article will focus on the secondary migrants and their settlement outcomes compared to that of the primary applicant. Most of the supporting data refer to offshore arrivals who apply for their visa while they are still living overseas. Separate data on onshore secondary applicants, who are granted a visa while they are living in Australia (e.g. students, temporary residents and visitors), are generally not available.

There are limited data sources available with information about secondary applicants. This article refers to data collected by DIAC in Immigration Updates and the Settlement Database and is available on the DIAC website (www.immi.gov.au). This article also refers to data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in the Characteristics of Recent Migrants Survey (CORMS), 2007. CORMS was conducted using a sub-sample of the Monthly Population Survey (MPS) sample, resulting in a sample size of 2,530 recent migrants. In addition, the most recent General Social Survey was conducted by the ABS in 2006 and has been used in this article to give an indication of the social well-being of migrants. The CORMS and GSS data are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. For further information, see the Explanatory Notes of Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia (cat. no. 6250.0) and the Explanatory Notes of General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0).

Some of the data presented are survey data. Unless otherwise specified, highlighted differences between data items are statistically significant.


MIGRANT CHARACTERISTICS

How many primary and secondary applicant migrants are there?

Information about the number of primary and secondary applicant migrants is available in the Immigration Updates prepared by DIAC. This data source contains statistics of persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia and is based on data from the Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS) supplemented from Incoming or Outgoing Passenger Card information.

The following graph refers to migrants with permanent residence who have recently arrived in Australia. Onshore applicants (temporary residents already in Australia) who have been granted permanent residence are not included in the data.

Number of permanent arrivals by applicant type(a)
Number of permanent arrivals by applicant type by financial year


Over the eight year period from 2000-01 to 2007-08, secondary applicants have accounted for between 26% and 38% of total offshore permanent migrants to Australia. During the last eight years, the number of primary applicants and secondary applicants granted permanent residency have increased in number. The number in 2007-08 was over 40% more than it was in 2000-01 for both primary and secondary applicants. In 2007-08, there were 60,633 primary applicants, compared to 52,802 secondary applicants. Given the size of the secondary applicant group, it is important, from a policy development standpoint, to separately examine their characteristics and settlement outcomes. This is particularly relevant to skilled migration, where the initial visa application will tend to be based exclusively on the attributes of the primary applicant.

Are application patterns different for different visa types?

The three broad visa eligibility streams defined by DIAC are family, skill and humanitarian. The family stream enables the primary applicant to be sponsored by a relative who is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia. The skill stream is designed to contribute to Australia’s economic growth where there is demand in Australia for particular occupational skills, outstanding talents or business skills. The humanitarian stream is made up of Refugee, Special Humanitarian and Special Assistance migrants.

Primary applicant arrivals by eligibility category
Primary applicant arrivals by eligibility category by financial year


Secondary applicant arrivals by eligibility category
Secondary applicant arrivals by eligibility category by financial year

The above graphs highlight the different balance within each of the broad visa streams between primary and secondary applicants. A large proportion of the secondary applicants were in the skill stream.

In 2007-08, over half of all primary applicant arrivals were on a family visa (53%). Other primary applicant arrivals held skill visas (43%) and the remainder held humanitarian visas (5%). In contrast, three quarters of secondary applicants arrived on a skill visa in the same year. The rest of the secondary applicants held family (12%) and humanitarian visas (13%).

Between 2002-03 and 2003-04 there was a sharp increase in the number of arrivals in the skill stream for both primary (increased by 31%) and secondary applicant migrants (increased by 36%). Family and skill visas applied for have increased over the last eight years for primary applicants. The number of secondary applications in the skill stream have almost doubled over the last eight years. Secondary applications in the family stream have only increased slightly and applications in the humanitarian stream peaked in 2004-05 before a decline.

The difference between secondary skill applicant arrivals and family applicants likely reflects different visa application requirements for the different streams. Family visas generally recognise a close family relationship between the migrant and their sponsor in Australia, and as such are more likely to lead to a primary application on that basis. Skill visas, on the other hand, recognise the skills of the primary applicant, but also provide greater capacity for the nomination of secondary applicants such that immediate family members may accompany that person. The skilled visa applicant must also be less than 45 years of age, which means there is a greater likelihood that this group will have a spouse or partner and dependent children under the age of 18.

Are application patterns different for different countries of birth?

Information on country of birth has been sourced from DIAC's Settlement Database. The data from the Settlement Database refer to permanent offshore settler arrivals and, therefore, excludes onshore applicants and temporary migrants. The focus of the following table is on the skill visa stream.

Top 10 countries of birth for offshore skilled arrivals by applicant type(a) - 2007-08

Primary   
% primary
Secondary  
% secondary
Total  
% total

United Kingdom
5 830
34
11 450
66
17 280
100
India              
5 140
47
5 810
53
10 950
100
China, Peoples Republic of
3 070
44
3 950
56
7 020
100
South Africa, Republic of
1 130
32
2 440
68
3 570
100
Malaysia          
1 210
42
1 670
58
2 880
100
Philippines      
970
36
1 720
64
2 690
100
Sri Lanka        
980
39
1 540
61
2 520
100
Korea, Republic of     
700
36
1 250
64
1 950
100
Singapore         
500
35
930
65
1 430
100
Ireland           
440
49
450
51
890
100
Other countries
5 420
40
8 080
60
13 500
100
Total             
25 390
39
39 290
61
64 680
100

(a) Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
Source: DIAC Settlement Database.


In 2007-08, a quarter of arrivals in the skill stream (27%) were born in the UK and 66% of these were secondary applicants. Skill stream primary applicants born in India and China were accompanied by a smaller proportion of dependents. For example, just over half (53%) of skill stream arrivals born in India were secondary applicants and 56% of skill stream arrivals born in China were secondary applicants. However, skill stream arrivals born in South Africa were more likely to bring dependents with them, 68% of them being secondary applicants. Skill stream primary applicants born in Singapore brought the third highest proportion of dependents (65%) out of the top ten countries of birth. These results show that there are certain countries of birth with a higher proportion of secondary skill applicants and that these countries are not necessarily the countries that contribute the largest number of applicants overall.

Top 10 countries of birth for offshore humanitarian arrivals by applicant type(a) - 2007-08

Primary
% primary
Secondary
% secondary
Total
% total

Burma              
850
44
1 070
56
1 920
100
Iraq               
470
28
1 210
72
1 680
100
Afghanistan        
250
26
700
74
950
100
Sudan              
280
34
540
66
820
100
Thailand          
40
6
620
94
660
100
Congo, Republic of
120
26
350
74
470
100
Iran               
110
26
310
74
420
100
Sierra Leone      
70
28
180
72
250
100
Tanzania           
10
4
230
96
240
100
Liberia           
90
38
150
63
240
100
Other countries
550
29
1 370
71
1 920
100
Total            
2 840
30
6 730
70
9 570
100

(a) Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
Source: DIAC Settlement Database.


In 2007-08, 20% of arrivals in the humanitarian stream were born in Burma and 56% of these were secondary applicants. Humanitarian visa primary applicants born in Iraq and Afghanistan were accompanied by a larger proportion of dependents. For example, almost three quarters (72%) of humanitarian arrivals born in Iraq were secondary applicants and 74% of humanitarian arrivals born in Afghanistan were secondary applicants. Thailand and Tanzania had a very large proportion of secondary applicants (94% and 96% respectively). It should be noted however that Thailand has very few refugees in its own right, but takes a lot of temporary refugees from Burma. A refugee's period of residence in a refugee camp could amount to a number of years and any children born in the refugee camps in Thailand are recorded as Thai born secondary applicants even though their parents are Burmese. Hence to an extent the numbers presented reflect the arrival of Thai born secondary applicants with Burmese primary applicants. There is a similar situation in Tanzania, which accepts a lot of refugees from Burundi.

What is the sex and age of migrants?

Information on the sex and age of migrants has also been sourced from DIAC's Settlement Database.

Number of primary applicant arrivals by sex
Number of primary applicant arrivals by sex by financial year


Number of secondary arrivals by sex
Number of secondary arrivals by sex by financial year


Over the past eight years, the number of male primary applicant migrants has been similar to the number of female applicants. During the same time period, the number of female secondary applicant migrants was consistently higher than the number of male secondary applicants.

Proportion of total arrivals by applicant type and age group - 2007-08
Proportion of total arrivals by applicant type and age group—2007-08


In 2007-08, over half of secondary applicant migrants (55%) were children or teenagers aged under 18 years. In comparison, only 4% of primary applicants were in this age group. Primary applicants were more likely to be aged between 25 and 34 (45%) or between 35 and 44 (25%).

How well do migrants speak English and do they hold an educational qualification?

English proficiency and education levels can impact on labour force participation, income and a wide range of other social and economic outcomes.

The ABS collected information about the labour force status and other characteristics of 'recent migrants' in the Characteristics of Recent Migrants Survey (CORMS) in 2007. Recent migrants were defined as people who were born overseas, arrived in Australia after 1997, were aged 15 years and over on arrival, were not an Australian Citizen on arrival, were not born in New Zealand, did not hold New Zealand citizenship, and had permanent Australian resident status.

English proficiency of arrivals by applicant type - 2007

Mainly speaks English at home
Very well
Well
Not well
English not spoken
Total
%
%
%
%
%
%

Primary
50
9
18
17
6
100
Secondary
44
10
16
19
11
100

Source: ABS data available on request, CORMS, 2007.


In CORMS, there was no statistically significant difference between primary and secondary applicant migrants in terms of mainly speaking English at home. Almost half of both applicant groups used English as their main language to converse at home. Approximately a quarter of primary (27%) and secondary (26%) applicants responded that they spoke English either well or very well. There was a difference between primary and secondary applicants in terms of not speaking English at all. A higher proportion of secondary applicants reported that they didn't speak English (11%) than primary applicants (6%).

In the 2007 CORMS, the ABS reported that more than half of secondary applicants over the age of 20 (53%) had obtained a non-school qualification before they arrived in Australia, which was less than the proportion of primary applicants who obtained a qualification before arrival (64%). This may largely reflect the entry criteria for primary applicants, however, it does highlight that both primary and secondary applicants are often well qualified.


BROAD SETTLEMENT OUTCOMES OF SECONDARY APPLICANTS COMPARED TO PRIMARY APPLICANTS

Are migrants employed in Australia?

In 2007, the ABS found in the CORM survey that 54% of secondary applicants were employed and 40% were not in the labour force. In comparison, more primary applicants were employed (69%) and 28% were not in the labour force. Around two-thirds of employed secondary and primary applicants were working full-time (68% and 72% respectively).

These results contributed to a higher unemployment rate for the secondary applicants (9%) than for primary applicants (4.6%). The unemployment rate for all of the migrants in this survey was 5.5%.

How long did it take for migrants to find employment?

According to the ABS CORM survey, over a third (37%) of secondary applicants had not worked since their arrival in Australia. In comparison, the proportion of primary applicants who had not worked since their arrival was significantly less (21%). Before arriving in Australia 4% of secondary applicants had already arranged a job, which was less than the proportion of primary applicants who had arranged a job (13%). There was no statistically significant difference between primary and secondary applicant migrants in terms of taking longer than 12 months to find a job in Australia. Around a fifth of secondary applicants (19%) reported that it took them more than 12 months to find a job in Australia, compared to 15% of primary applicants. More primary applicants in the skill stream took a very short time to find employment compared to secondary applicants. It took less than a month for 30% of skilled primary applicants to find a job, compared to 12% of secondary applicants. It took between two to three months for 19% of skilled primary applicants, compared to 12% of secondary applicants.

What occupations do migrants work in?

The ABS collected data in CORMS about the occupations people held before they arrived in Australia and about their current occupation in Australia. The information can provide some insight into the degree to which migrants are using their skills and qualifications in Australia.

Occupation of arrivals by applicant type(a) - 2007

Occupation before arrival
Current occupation
Difference
Primary
Secondary
Primary
Secondary
Primary
Secondary
Occupation
%
%
%
%
%
%

Managers
10
7
7
4
-3
-3
Professionals
26
18
22
13
-4
-5
Technicians and trade workers
10
5
11
7
1
2
Community and personal service workers
4
5
6
7
2
2
Clerical and admin workers
9
10
7
7
-2
-3
Sales workers
4
4
5
4
1
-
Machinery operators and drivers(b)
1
np
3
np
2
np
Labourers
2
3
9
10
7
7

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Data is a proportion of all arrivals, including those not employed and those not in the labour force.
(b) The secondary data for Machinery operators and drivers are excluded due to small sample size.
Source: ABS data available on request, CORMS, 2007.


In 2007, the ABS reported that 18% of secondary applicants were professionals before they arrived in Australia, compared to 26% of primary applicants. A small proportion of secondary applicants worked as labourers (3%).

More primary applicants (22%) were currently employed as a professional in Australia than secondary applicants (13%). The second highest occupation for secondary applicants was labourer (10%), which was similar to the proportion of primary applicants employed as a labourer (9%).

For both primary and secondary applicants, there was a lower proportion of people employed as managers, professionals, and clerical and administrative workers in their current employment, when compared to the occupation held before arriving in Australia. In contrast, there was a higher proportion who reported being employed as labourers in their current job than the proportion recorded in this occupation before arrival.

What is the main source of income for migrants?

In 2007, the ABS CORM survey found that the main source of household income for both primary and secondary applicants was wages or salary (77% and 82% respectively). More secondary applicants were dependant on government pensions or allowances (11%) than primary applicants (6%). Primary applicants were also more dependant on other sources of income (16%, compared to 7% of secondary applicants).

Do migrants have social networks and support in Australia?

In 2006, the ABS General Social Survey (GSS) collected social and well-being information relating to respondents born overseas, who arrived in 1985 or later and were long-term or permanent residents of Australia at the time of interview. Of this group, three quarters had entered Australia under permanent resident visas, another 13% were New Zealand citizens and 10% had entered as long-term temporary residents. For further information, see the Explanatory Notes of General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0).

No significant difference was found between primary and secondary applicants. Most migrants, both primary (83%) and secondary applicants (84%), indicated that they had friends that they feel close to and that they can confide in. Around two-thirds of migrants reported having between 1 and 4 friends who they could confide in, which was the same as non-migrants.

Most migrants, both primary (80%) and secondary (79%), indicated that they had ex-household family members that they felt close to and could confide in. Of the non-migrant population, more people reported having these close family relationships (89%).


LIST OF REFERENCES

ABS 2006, General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, cat. no. 4159.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2007, Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, cat. no. 6250.0, ABS, Canberra.

DIAC 2002-03 to 2007-08, Immigration Updates, viewed 6 January 2009, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.

DIAC, Settlement Database, viewed 6 January 2009, <http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/delivering-assistance/settlement-reporting-facility/>.

DIAC 2008, Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) - State/Territory Summary Report 2007-08, viewed 6 January 2009, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/pdf/457_stats_07_08.pdf>.

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