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TEMPORARY MIGRANTS IN AUSTRALIA
While New Zealand citizens form a substantial component of temporary entrants, they are not discussed in this article. This is because New Zealand citizens can travel to Australia without the need to apply for a visa provided they have a valid New Zealand passport and no criminal convictions or medical conditions. While generally it is possible to know how many New Zealanders come and go in Australia, less is known about where they live and what they do while they are here.
In 2007-08, over 4 million temporary entry visas were granted, three quarters of which were for non-business visitors or tourists. The remaining quarter were made up of Business Visitors (418,250); Overseas Students (278,184); Working Holiday visas (154,148); and Skilled Long Stay Temporary Business visas (110,570). In contrast, there were 206,135 permanent visas granted under the permanent migration program during the same period. Over the last three years the number of permanent resident visas granted has increased by 14% (25,274 permanent visas) while the number of temporary entry visas granted has risen by 6% (or 218,940 temporary visas). See article Permanent Migration to Australia - An Overview by Eligibility Category, for more information about historical trends in Australia's migration.
Visitors are the largest contributor to temporary migration and they come to Australia for a variety of reasons, such as tourism, friend or family visits, short term business, or pre-arranged medical treatment. There is a number of Visitor visas available varying in length from 3 to 12 months duration and they generally do not permit applicants to work while visiting Australia. Included are the following main visa subclasses:
Visitors' contribution to the temporary migration program
The table below shows the number of Visitor visas granted between 2003-04 and 2007-08. Visitors account for the largest number of temporary visas granted (3.6 million in 2007-08 or 87% of total temporary visas granted). Of that figure, 3.2 million were Tourist visas, a figure which has remained fairly stable over the 5 year time period. The biggest change over the five years has been in the number of Business Visitor visas granted, increasing from 298,840 in 2003-04, to 418,250 in 2007-08. Business Visitor visas accounted for 12% of total Visitor visas granted in 2007-08. Increases in both the Short Stay Business visa (456) (up 40% over the 5 year period) and the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Business Short Validity visa (977) (up 58% over the 5 year period) have accounted for the rise in business visas granted over time. In addition, there were 2.8 million ETAs granted in 2007-08 with most of them being ETA Visitor visas (2.6 million), possibly reflecting more electronic processing being undertaken by DIAC.
Where do visitors come from?
The table below details total Offshore Visitor visa grants by country of citizenship, between 2003-04 and 2007-08. The table shows that visitors to Australia are predominantly from the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, United States of America (USA), China and Korea and that this has not changed greatly over this period. In 2007-08 the largest number of Visitor visas were granted to people from the UK (631,900) accounting for 18% of all Visitor visas granted. Japan was the next largest (464,878 or 13%), followed by the USA (400,906 or 11%) and China (261,016 or 7%). The number of Visitor visas granted to people from the UK and the USA has remained relatively steady over the 5 year period with 647,613 (UK) and 377,875 (USA) in 2003-04 and 631,900 (UK) and 400,906 (USA) in 2007-08 respectively. For China, the number of Visitor visas granted has increased by 98,230 (60%), while for Japan, the opposite has occurred, with a fall of almost 170,000 Visitor visas granted (27%) over the same 5 year period.
This general pattern differs, however, for Short Stay Business Visitors (visa classes 456 and 459) who came mostly from China (81,481 in 2007-08), the USA (58,145), the UK (35,283), India (25,175) and Japan (23,998) in 2007-08.
Aside from visitors, there are a range of other temporary residents who form part of Australia's temporary migration program. These persons migrate to Australia, either alone or with their families to live and work. Some come independently and some are employer sponsored. The remainder of this article will concentrate on temporary migrants.
Generally, temporary migrants pay tax on any earnings they make in Australia. They do not have access to the Medicare health system or any social welfare benefits that are available to permanent residents. There is also particular character and health requirements that they need to meet depending on the conditions that are attached to their particular temporary visa (DIAC 2007c, 2008a).
There are three main categories of temporary migrants that are discussed in this article:
Working Holiday Makers
The Working Holiday Makers (WHM) program is a cultural exchange program designed to deliver both social and economic benefits to Australia. It is designed to be particularly helpful to regional employers in providing short term casual employment to industries such as hospitality and rural industries. The program enables young people aged 18 to 30 years, without dependent children, to work while they travel (DIAC 2007c). The two visas available are:
Working holiday makers' contribution to the temporary migration program
In 2007-08 there were 154,148 Working Holiday visas granted (up 15% from 134,612 in 2006-07) and 3,426 Work and Holiday visas granted. This is a fairly small number of visas granted when compared to the temporary migration program overall. These visas combined account for 27% of temporary visa grants (when visitors are excluded).
The graph below shows the total number of Working Holiday visas granted over the last 8 years. Over this period the number granted has doubled. Some of this growth may be attributed to an increase in the number of participating countries and more flexible visa arrangements. Specifically, the length of time with any one employer has been extended from 3 months to 6 months, working holiday makers are allowed to study in Australia for up to 4 months and there is the option (for subclass 417 visa holders only) of applying for a second working holiday visa provided they have worked in specific industries in regional Australia (DIAC 2007c).
Where do working holiday makers come from?
The graph below shows that the main source country for Working Holiday visa grants in 2007-08 was the UK with 34,145 visas granted or 22% of the total number of 417 visas granted. While the UK has remained the dominant source country for working holiday makers over this time, there have been some interesting increases in the number of visas granted to working holiday makers from other countries. For example, over the 5 year period, Working Holiday grants from Korea have increased by 243%, from 9,513 in 2003-04 to 32,635 in 2007-08. In addition, there was an increase of 80% in the number of visa grants to persons from Germany (9,672 in 2003-04 to 17,438 in 2007-08) and visa grants to persons from France increased (from 1,601 to 11,005 over the same 5 year period).
The student visa program aims to promote and grow Australia's education services overseas by allowing overseas students to study full-time in Australia in registered courses. There are several different types of Student visas available, broadly reflecting the different sectors of Australia's education industry. They are:
These visas allow students to stay in Australia for the duration of their course and permit multiple entries to Australia. Students are able to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and unlimited hours during the end of semester breaks. All overseas students must apply for their first visa offshore (DIAC, Fact Sheet 50).
Students' contribution to the temporary migration program
In 2007-08 there were 278,184 Student visas granted, a 22% increase on 2006-07 (228, 592). Overseas students accounted for 47% of the temporary migration program (excluding visitors), a 1% increase on the previous two years (46% in both 2005-06 and 2006-07). By educational sector, the largest increases in visa grants in 2007-08 were in the Vocational Education and Training sector (up by 24,978 grants or 58%) and the Higher Education sector (up by 19,306 grants or 17%). The Higher Education sector accounted for 47% of all Student visas granted in 2007-08.
The table below shows the total number of Student visas granted from 2002-03 to 2007-08, by educational sector. Over that 6 year period the number of Student visas granted has increased by 71%. The Higher Education sector has remained the largest over that time period while the number of Student visas granted in this sector since 2002-03 has increased by 140%. Conversely, visas granted in the Postgraduate Research sector have fallen by 25,282 (78%) since 2002-03.
Where do overseas students come from?
The graph below shows the change in grants over time for the top five source countries for Student visas in 2007-08. Of particular note are the increases in visa grants for both China and India over the period. For China, Student visa grants increased by 19,793 (66%) from 29,970 in 2005-06 to 49,763 in 2007-08. For India, there was an increase of 27,366 grants (135%) from 20,273 in 2005-06 to 47,639 in 2007-08. The numbers of visa grants from each of these countries was more than double the next largest source country, Korea in 2007-08. In 2003-04, the main source countries for Student visa grants were China (27,829), Korea (14,375) and Japan (12,886). For further information on overseas students see Perspectives on Migrants, 2007, Overseas Students (ABS cat. no. 3416.0).
Skilled temporary migrants or business people come to Australia to either work for Australian employers or to explore new business opportunities in the Australian economy. The intention of the program is for approved Australian employers to be able to fill skilled vacancies in their workforce that they have been unable to fill from the local labour supply.
There are three visas available that enable skilled migrants with sought after qualifications, skills or experience, to work in Australia. They are:
These business visas are all valid for up to 4 years and visa holders can enter and leave Australia any number of times after they have arrived. These temporary migrants are not able to access Medicare or social welfare benefits. Minimum skill and salary requirements exist for employer sponsored migrants in line with Australian workplace laws, as well as English language proficiency, health, and good character requirements. Regional or low population growth areas may benefit from these visas as the selection requirements may have lower thresholds if a migrant opts to live and work in such an area. Skilled temporary migrants must fill management; professional; or skilled tradesperson positions (DIAC 2007c).
Business migrants' contribution to the temporary migration program
The Business (Long Stay) visa (457) is the main temporary skilled visa and in 2007-08, there were 110,570 of these visas granted. In 2007-08, visa grants increased 27% on 2006-07 (87,310) which itself was 23% above the level of visas granted in 2005-06 (71,150). This program has increased over the last few years as a result of demand from employers to fill skill shortages in the local economy, and as the graph below shows, the number of 457 visa grants over the last seven years between 2001-02 and 2007-08, more than tripled. In addition, this increase has been occurring at an almost equal rate for both primary applicants (the applicant who must satisfy the primary criteria for the grant of a visa) and secondary applicants (the dependents of the primary applicant) (DIAC 2008a). See article Migrant Characteristics and Settlement Outcomes of Secondary Applicants, for further details about secondary applicants. In relation to the temporary migration program, the Business (Long Stay) visa accounts for about 19% of the program (excluding visitors).
Where do business migrants come from?
The graph below shows that the main country of citizenship for temporary 457 visa holders in 2007-08 was the UK with 13,110 primary applicant visas granted and 10,660 secondary applicant visas granted. The UK accounted for 22% of all 457 visas granted in 2007-08. The second largest source country was India, accounting for 14% with 8,250 primary applicants and 6,870 secondary applicants. South Africa was the third highest source country (8% of the total) which interestingly had more visas granted for secondary applicants (6,080) than primary applicants (3,260). The top source countries graphed below account for 64% of all 457 visas granted (70,630) and are similar to the main source countries for permanent skilled migrants who tend to come primarily from the UK, followed by India, then China and South Africa.
Where are skilled temporary migrants going and what are their employment characteristics?
As the table below indicates most temporary 457 visas granted are for positions that are located in New South Wales (32%), Western Australia (22%), Victoria (20%) and Queensland (18%). These four states account for 92% of all 457 visas granted. Interestingly, although Western Australia accounts for 10% of Australia's population, 22% of the 457 visas granted are for positions in that State, the second highest preferred location after New South Wales.
The following tables examine the employment industries and major occupation groups of 457 visa entrants in the four states that had the highest number of visas granted in 2007-08. For New South Wales, employers in the Communication services industry were the main sponsors of 457 migrants, accounting for 17% of that State's visa grants.
For Western Australia, however, the demand for overseas labour was mostly in the mining industry which accounts for 26% of that State's 457 visa grants and 63% of all 457 visas in the mining industry nationally. The majority of the visas granted are for nominated positions in the Professional (4,920 or 42%) and the Tradespersons and related workers (3,840 or 33%) occupations.
The remaining temporary business visas are the Business Development Provisional Visas that are available to business people to establish a business in Australia, manage a new or existing business, or invest in Australia. They include:
These visas, other than the Investor Retirement visa (405), offer applicants a direct path to permanent residence after a minimum of two years (DIAC, Visas, Immigration and Refugees).
PATHWAY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY
This section focuses on the extent to which temporary migrants become permanent residents. While relevant data are less readily available, there is some permanent additions data that shows the numbers of temporary migrants who convert to permanent residents while they are already onshore.
Increasingly temporary migrants are opting to apply for permanent residency while in Australia, as can be seen from the graph below. The skilled migration scheme accounted for 74% of all onshore additions to the resident population in 2007-08 and this is a trend that has been increasing over the last few years.
Under the skilled migration stream there are a range of visa categories that allow temporary students and long stay business migrants in particular, to apply for permanent residency. The table below shows that the Employer Nominated and the Independent Schemes are the predominant visa categories for onshore permanent additions and over time their percentage of the total skill stream permanent additions has remained relatively stable. In 2007-08 permanent additions through the Employer Nominated visa category were mostly onshore (82%) and this is consistent with the proportion of onshore additions over the previous five years. For the Independent visa category 33% of permanent additions were onshore, again consistent with previous years' data. The Australian Sponsored visa category (which allows applicants to be sponsored by a family member who is either an Australian citizen or permanent resident or to be nominated by a state or territory government) has had increasing onshore additions over time, ranging from 9% in 2002-03 to 26% in 2007-08.
Overseas students are able to apply for permanent residency via a range of onshore general skilled migration visa categories provided they meet certain visa requirements. See article Skilled Migration, for further details. They are able to apply on successful completion of their studies without having to leave Australia, provided they do so within 6 months of completing their Australian qualifications. In 2006-07 there were 22,858 onshore permanent residence visas granted to skilled students, 23% of the total number of permanent skilled visas granted (97,920) (DIAC 2007c). In 2007-08, there were 21,421 permanent visas granted to overseas students, 20% of the total number of permanent skilled visas granted (108,540) (DIAC 2008c).
There are a number of provisional business visas that allow overseas residents with the appropriate skills, capital and interest, to come to Australia, pursue a business venture and in the process qualify and be granted permanent residency. Skilled temporary migrants holding a 457 visa are also able to apply for permanent residency at the completion of their placement, through either employer sponsorship or by applying for permanent residency independently. See article Skilled Migration, for further details.
In recent years the incidence of transfer from temporary to provisional or permanent visa type has doubled as shown in the figure below. In 2007-08, there were 24,960 permanent resident or provisional visas granted to people who last held a subclass 457 visa and 88% of those applied under the Employer Nomination Scheme, Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, Labour Agreement or Skilled Independent visa programs (DIAC 2008a). That figure represents 12% of the total number of permanent visas granted and 23% of the skilled stream permanent visas granted (108, 540).
LIST OF REFERENCES
ABS 2007, Information Paper: Statistical Implications of Improved Methods for Estimating Net Overseas Migration, Australia, 2007, cat. no. 3107.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS 2008, Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, June 2008, cat. no. 3201.0, ABS, Canberra.
DIAC 2008a, Annual report 2007-08, <http://www.immi.gov.au/about/reports/annual/>.
DIAC, Fact Sheet 49, viewed 1 December 2008, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/>.
DIAC, Fact Sheet 50, viewed 2 December 2008, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/>.
DIAC 2008b, Immigration Update 2007-08, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.
DIAC 2007b, Immigration Update 2006-07, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.
DIAC 2005b, Immigration Update, June 2005, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.
DIAC 2008c, Population Flows - Immigration Aspects 2007-08, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.
DIAC 2007c, Population Flows - Immigration Aspects 2006-07, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/>.
DIAC, Student Visa Statistics, viewed 29 October 2008, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/study/>.
DIAC 2008d, Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) - State/Territory Summary Report 2007-08, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/statistical-info/temp-entrants/subclass-457.htm>.
DIAC, Visas, Immigration and Refugees, viewed 28 January 2009, <http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/business/provisional-visa-options.htm>.
DIAC, Visitor Visa Statistics, viewed 29 October 2008, <http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/study/tempentstat.htm>
Reserve Bank of Australia 2007, Bulletin, September 2007, <http://www.rba.gov.au/PublicationsAndResearch/Bulletin/bu_sep07/immig_lab_supply.html>.
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