6105.0 - Australian Labour Market Statistics, July 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/02/2014   
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An international migrant (referred to as migrant) is defined as "any person who changes his or her country of usual residence" (United Nations 1998). The country of usual residence is the country in which a person lives, that is to say, the country in which he or she has a place to live where he or she normally spends the daily period of rest. A long-term migrant is a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence. In Australia, for the purposes of estimating net overseas migration, and thereby the official population counts, a person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or expected to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more over a 16 month period (the '12/16 month' rule).

A person who enters Australia on a temporary basis to work, study or holiday may be referred to as a temporary migrant. The main groups contributing to temporary migration are New Zealand citizens, international students, temporary resident visa holders (including working holiday makers and 457 visa holders), and visitors (including tourists and people on short business trips or visiting family). Not all of these people are captured in the Labour Force estimates, because employment and unemployment statistics are only collected in relation to the Australian usual resident population. This fact sheet outlines what information is available about migrants from ABS labour statistics.


The scope of the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the usually resident civilian population aged 15 years and over.

The LFS uses population benchmarks to weight the survey sample to the population. People are included in the usually resident Australian population if they spend 12 months or more in Australia out of a 16 month period (the '12/16 month rule'). Preliminary population estimates are modelled on a person's stated intention on arrival, and final estimates are updated based on actual behaviour, after the 16 month period has elapsed. This criterion is based on an individual's duration of stay within Australia and is independent of visa class. Therefore those who are long-term migrants in Australia and some temporary migrants are in scope of the LFS.

No information about visa class is collected in the LFS.

Data by Country of Birth and Year of Arrival

The LFS and all labour household supplementary surveys collect people's Country of Birth and Year of Arrival in respect of usual residents. These data items can be used to define migrants. Country of Birth is classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (cat. no. 1269.0). Standard output is published on regions, but in most cases more detailed data are available on request. Year of Arrival is collected by single year, but is usually published in five-year groupings. Age on arrival can also be derived from Year of Arrival and Current Age, to provide a more complete picture, such as to distinguish adult migrants from those who migrated as children but have since reached adulthood.

The LFS does not distinguish:
  • long-term migrants from temporary migrants; nor
  • people specifically moving to Australia as skilled workers compared to those migrating for family, humanitarian or study purposes.

Characteristics of Recent Migrants (cat. no. 6250.0) is a labour supplementary survey, which is currently collected every three years. This survey contains comprehensive information on the labour force experience of recent migrants (those arriving in Australia in the last 10 years, who are now usual residents of Australia) and temporary residents. Data from this survey are available by Current Visa Category and Visa Category on Arrival, in addition to the standard Country of Birth and Year of Arrival data items. Other variables of interest are also available such as English proficiency (on arrival and current) and highest non-school qualification (on arrival and current)

This survey only outputs visa information for broad visa categories (7-10 categories, depending on data quality). These categories each incorporate several visa subclasses, and may therefore include diverse migrant groups within one visa category. For example, people on working holidays, extended business trips and temporary skilled workers (including 457 visa holders) are all included in the category ‘Temporary – Other’.

457 Visas

The term '457 visa' is commonly used to refer to the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457), previously known as the Temporary Business (Long-Stay) Visa. Labour force data specific to 457 visa holders are not available from the ABS monthly LFS, or from other ABS sources. The way that 457 visas are captured and reflected in the LFS reflects the scope of the survey and the population benchmarks used to weight survey responses, as outlined above.

457 visa holders will be surveyed in the LFS if their dwelling is selected and they consider themselves to be a usual resident of that household. Some 457 visa holders will be included in the Australian population (and therefore population benchmarks) while others may not, depending on their actual or intended length of stay in Australia. For these reasons it is not possible to determine what contribution temporary migrants make to the LFS, nor to quantify what proportion of 457 visa holders are captured in the LFS.


Within the ABS business labour surveys, which are completed by employers, no information is collected relating to the visa class or other personal characteristics of employees. Therefore information on 457 visa holders are not distinguishable from Australian employees or migrants working in Australia on other types of visas.


More ABS information on Migrants is available from: Research from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, including labour market experience of migrants, is available from their website: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications.htm

457 Visas
457 Visas are specifically included in:
    • Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0) - includes information on the number of 457 visa holders being included in the population according to the above '12/16 month' rule.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection publishes statistics on 457 visa holders, including employment characterisitcs such as industry, occupation and average earnings: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/statistical-info/temp-entrants/subclass-457.htm.