Overseas Migration

Latest release

Statistics on Australia's international migration, by state and territory, country of birth, visa, age and sex.

Reference period
2021-22 financial year
Released
16/12/2022
Next release Unknown

Key statistics

  • Overseas migration 2021-22 – net gain of 170,900 people
  • Migrant arrivals increased 171% to 395,000 from 146,000 arrivals a year ago
  • Migrant departures decreased 3% to 224,000 from 230,900 departures a year ago
  • Net overseas migration in every state and territory increased in 2021-22 when compared with 2020-21.

The data presented in this release are annual, for years ending 30 June unless otherwise noted. For the latest quarterly migration estimates, see the ABS publication National, state and territory population. For Australia's regional overseas migration estimates, see the ABS publication Regional population.

Most data in this release are rounded to the nearest 10. As a result, sums of components may not add to totals.

COVID-19 travel restrictions

The Australian Government imposed travel restrictions on those travelling to or from Australia in March 2020, which were gradually lifted from 1 November 2021. Australian borders were reopened to most travellers from 21 February 2022. 

Net overseas migration

Net overseas migration is the net gain or loss of population through international migration to and from Australia. 

In the year ending 30 June 2022, overseas migration contributed a net gain of 171,000 to Australia's population. This represents a very large increase in net overseas migration on the 2020-21 financial year – which saw a net loss of 85,000 people.

Historically, more people migrate to Australia than migrate away each year, meaning overseas migration has been a significant source of population gain for Australia rather than loss. Overseas migration data in Australia shows a pattern of variability over time, due to the ever-changing global and domestic factors affecting migration. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions added to this variability, as did the easing of these international travel restrictions from late 2021 which has resulted in people being able to migrate to Australia again.

  1. Estimates from 1972 onwards are year ending June, prior to 1972 they are year ending December.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page
Historical events which have influenced Australian migration
1861 to 1913 (pre WWI)average gain of 20,000 people per year, with some annual losses
1916largest net loss in a single year of 129,000 due to WWI - mainly young men
1919 (post WWI) to 1929average gain of 46,000 per year - includes troops returning
1930 to 1945punctuated with annual losses due to Great Depression and WWII (1939-45)
1946 (post WWII) to 2006average gain of 90,000 per year - post-war migration program started
2007 to 2020average net gain of 226,000 per year - more temporary migration
2020-21net loss of 85,000 due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic - the second lowest on record
2021-22resumption of positive net migration after COVID-19 travel restrictions lifted - a net gain of 171,000 people recorded

 

 

Migrant arrivals

The number of migrant arrivals in 2021-22 increased to 395,000, up from 146,000 the year before, which equates to an increase of 171 per cent. The easing of COVID-19 international travel restrictions in 2021 has driven this increase in migrant arrivals, however there were still fewer migrant arrivals than prior to the pandemic.

From 2015-16 to 2019-20, the average number of migrant arrivals was 523,000 per year, with 61 per cent of these arriving on temporary visas. In 2020-21, this proportion dropped to 20 per cent, however it returned to 61 per cent in 2021-22. There was an 84 per cent increase in migrant arrivals for permanent visas holders in 2021-22 compared with 2020-21.

  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. The visa at time of traveller's overseas migration arrival date. The number of visas here should not be confused with information on visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs as visas can be granted onshore.
  3. Visa subclass 444 is granted to New Zealand citizens upon arrival in Australia if they have not already been granted another visa.

Migrant departures

The number of migrant departures in 2021-22 decreased to 224,000 departures, down from 231,000 the year before. This is a decrease of 3 per cent on the previous year.

From 2015-16 to 2019-20, the average number of migrant departures was 294,000 per year with 52 per cent of these departing on temporary visas. In 2020-21, this proportion increased to 63 per cent however in 2021-22 it decreased to 46 per cent.

  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. The visa at time of traveller's overseas migration departure date. The number of visas here should not be confused with information on visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs as visas can be granted onshore.
  3. Visa subclass 444 is granted to New Zealand citizens upon arrival in Australia if they have not already been granted another visa.

Country of birth

Net overseas migration

The contributions to Australia's population from overseas migration have returned to positive net volumes for a majority of countries of birth in 2021-22. These increases are indicative of a return to trends similar to those exhibited prior to 2020-21 when reversals of longer-term trends were observed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Estimates from September quarter 2021 onwards are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

In 2021-22, the top five countries of birth, as determined by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures, were Australia, India, China, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Analysis of these countries over the previous decade shows that net overseas migration was increasing for migrants born in China, however this began to decline from late 2017, well before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Net overseas migration of migrants born in India was also increasing but contributed a net loss to Australia’s population in 2020-21 during the COVID-19 pandemic, as did the United Kingdom and New Zealand. 

As travel restrictions eased, 2021-22 saw net migration from those born in India, China, the United Kingdom and New Zealand return to positive levels, however, net migration for these countries is still below pre-pandemic levels.

In 2021-22, there was a net loss of Australian-born from the population, with net overseas migration of -14,200. This is in line with the historical trend from before the pandemic. During 2020-21, international travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic caused this long-term pattern to be reversed with a net migration of 7,500 Australian-born added to the population.

Arrivals

In 2021-22 the top five countries of birth for migrant arrivals were India, China, Australia, Nepal and the Philippines. The number of migrant arrivals increased in 2021-22 for all of these countries except for Australia. The increases for these four countries followed substantial decreases a year earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

India and China experienced very large increases for the year, with India reaching just under 60,000 arrivals and China over 44,000 arrivals. Nepal and the Philippines both increased on the previous year and have now re-entered the top 5 countries again, after each had made brief appearances in 2019-20 (the Philippines) and 2017-18 to 2018-19 (Nepal).

Of these top 5 countries of birth in 2021-22, Australia was the only one to record a decrease on the previous year, during which it had maintained a much higher level of migrant arrivals than the other four countries.

Analysis of these five countries of birth in the decade prior to the pandemic, shows that migrant arrivals had:

  • increased for Indian-born – driven by international students (mainly for the higher education sector)
  • increased for Chinese-born (also driven by international students) until experiencing a decrease prior to the effects of the pandemic
  • been steady for Australian-born with around 50,000 arrivals returning to Australia each year
  • increased for Nepalese-born – driven by international students (mainly for the higher education sector)
  • been steady for people born in the Philippines until experiencing an increase prior to the effects of the pandemic.
  1. Estimates from September quarter 2021 onwards are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Top 5 countries of birth by the number of migrant arrivals in year ending June 2022.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

The graph above also indicates changes in travel behaviour of those who had arrived prior to the pandemic but were impacted by it and international travel restrictions.

For example, Australian-born migrant arrivals increased from September 2019 to March 2020. This was largely due to some Australian expatriates having changed their travel plans after arriving prior to COVID-19 occurring and then remaining, despite originally having planned a short trip. Because of this, some who were planning short visits actually stayed longer and became overseas migrant arrivals.

This behaviour was also observed for other nationalities such as those from China and India. Some in the older age groups arrived on visitor visas but ended up staying long enough to be counted as a migrant arrivals. 

In 2021-22, there have been increases in migrant arrivals for people born in India and China, as well as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. These increases can be attributed to the easing of travel restrictions in 2021.

Departures

In 2021-22, the top five countries of birth for migrant departures were Australia, China, India, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The number of migrant departures increased in 2021-22 for those born in Australia and the United Kingdom when compared with 2020-21, whereas the number of migrant departures for those born in China, India and New Zealand decreased.

Australia saw the largest increase of all countries for the year, up more than 18,000 to 47,800 departures, after two years of consecutive decreases.

China accounted for the second highest number of departures with 29,100. This was despite also accounting for the largest decrease in departures of over 30,000.

Analysis of the top five countries of birth for 2021-22 over the previous decade shows that prior to the impact of the pandemic, for migrant departures, those born in:

  • Australia were the largest group departing each financial year
  • China increased due to international students departing. However due to COVID-19, many were recorded as migrant departures in 2019-20 when they had left Australia prior to the pandemic to visit their home country but were unable to return to Australia to continue studies  
  • India remained stable, even though there were increases in international student arrivals during this period. Like China, in 2019-20 some were recorded as migrant departures after being unable to return to Australia due to the pandemic
  • UK comprised mostly of Australian Citizens born in the UK, working holiday makers, temporary skilled and permanent visa holders
  • NZ increased at the start of the decade to a peak of 23,000 before declining again at the end of the decade.
  1. Estimates from September quarter 2021 onwards are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Top 5 countries of birth by the number of migrant departures in year ending June 2022.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

World regions

The mix of countries where Australia's migrant arrivals are born has changed considerably over time. A decade ago, in 2011-12, the largest group (20%) was from North-West Europe. Five years ago, in 2016-17, the largest group (23%) was from North-East Asia. By 2018-19, the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this had changed substantially with the largest group (28%) of immigrants coming from South and Central Asia. During the pandemic, in 2020-21, the largest group of migrant arrivals was from Oceania (excluding Australian-born) which made up 20 per cent of the total migrant arrivals for that year.

In 2021-22, the proportion of migrant arrivals from each region was similar to 2018-19, the year prior to the pandemic. The largest group was from South and Central Asia (32%).

  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Based on the Standard Australian Classification of Countries. See classifications on the methodology page.

Visa

Arrivals

Migrant arrivals increased overall by 171 per cent in 2021-22. However, the year-on-year increases varied among the different visa groups.

  • Collectively, migrant arrivals for all temporary visa holders increased by seven-fold on the previous year
  • Collectively, migrant arrivals for all permanent visa holders increased by 84 per cent
  • Migrant arrivals for international students, after having almost stopped during 2020-21, saw an increase of 135,500 people
  • Similarly, arrivals for working holiday makers increased by more than 12-fold from the previous year.
Table 3.1 Overseas migrant arrivals by visa groupings(a)
  2018-192020-212021-22Annual change 2020-21 to 2021-22
Visa groupings(b)'000'000'000'000
Permanent visas    
 Family24.315.724.89.1
 Skilled (permanent)38.214.627.212.6
 Special eligibility & humanitarian15.30.67.36.8
 Other (permanent)7.56.18.52.4
 Total permanent visas85.437.067.930.9
Temporary visas    
 Student - vocational education and training22.60.120.019.8
 Student - higher education111.30.796.996.2
 Student - other30.40.720.119.5
 Skilled (temporary)32.69.022.513.5
 Working holiday49.11.013.512.5
 Visitors91.27.739.031.3
 Other (temporary)13.410.428.017.6
 Total temporary visas350.729.6239.9210.3
New Zealand citizens (subclass 444)(c)30.517.023.26.3
Australian citizens (no visa required)78.961.461.2-0.2
Total(d)550.4146.0395.0249.0
  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. The visa at time of traveller's overseas migration arrival date. The number of visas here should not be confused with information on visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs as visas can be granted onshore.
  3. Visa subclass 444 is granted to New Zealand citizens upon arrival in Australia if they have not already been granted another visa.
  4. Includes unknown visas.

Departures

Migrant departures fell overall by 3 per cent in 2021-22, however the year-on-year changes varied among the different visa groups.

  • Collectively, migrant departures for all permanent visa holders increased by 34 per cent on the previous year
  • Collectively, migrant departures for all temporary visa holders decreased by 30 per cent
  • Departures for working holiday makers decreased by 36 per cent
  • Departures for international students decreased by 55 per cent.
Table 3.2 Overseas migrant departures by visa groupings(a)
  2018-192020-212021-22Annual change 2020-21 to 2021-22
Visa groupings(b)'000'000'000'000
Permanent visas    
 Family5.84.26.82.6
 Skilled (permanent)7.56.67.50.9
 Special eligibility & humanitarian0.20.10.10.0
 Other (permanent)8.17.19.72.6
 Total permanent visas21.517.924.06.1
Temporary visas    
 Student - vocational education and training17.011.17.6-3.5
 Student - higher education40.943.616.1-27.5
 Student - other9.57.64.5-3.1
 Skilled (temporary)15.711.39.0-2.3
 Working holiday25.17.85.0-2.8
 Visitors27.315.016.21.1
 Other (temporary)33.050.244.5-5.7
 Total temporary visas168.5146.5102.8-43.7
New Zealand citizens (subclass 444)(c)22.419.015.8-3.3
Australian citizens (no visa required)85.944.074.130.1
Total(d)309.1230.9224.0-6.9
  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. The visa at time of traveller's overseas migration arrival date. The number of visas here should not be confused with information on visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs as visas can be granted onshore.
  3. Visa subclass 444 is granted to New Zealand citizens upon arrival in Australia if they have not already been granted another visa.
  4. Includes unknown visas.

Age and sex

Arrivals

In 2021-22, the median age of migrant arrivals was 27 and the modal age was 20. Of the 20 year-old migrant arrivals, 84 per cent were international students.

The age profile a year earlier in 2020-21 was older, with a median age of 32 and a modal age of 31. Prior to the pandemic in 2018-19, the median age of migrant arrivals was 26 and the modal age was 23. 

  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.

In 2021-22, the sex ratio of migrant arrivals was 101. In 2020-21, the sex ratio was 104 and in 2018-19, the sex ratio was 102. 

Departures

In 2021-22, the median age of migrant departures was 32 and the modal age was 26. Of the 26 year-old migrant departures, 26 per cent were international students.

The age profile a year earlier in 2020-21 was younger with a median age of 29 and a modal age of 25. Prior to the pandemic in 2018-19, the median age was 28 and the modal age was 25.

  1. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.

The sex ratio of migrant departures in 2021-22 was 106 which is the same as in 2020-21. In 2018-19, prior to the pandemic, the sex ratio was 109. 

State and territory

Net overseas migration

In 2021-22, overseas migration contributed a net gain of 171,000 people to the Australian population.

Individually, every state and territory recorded a net gain to their respective populations:

  • NSW – a net increase of 62,210 people
  • Vic. – increase of 55,630
  • Qld – increase of 23,430
  • SA – increase of 12,080
  • WA – increase of 9,500
  • Tas. – increase of 2,740
  • NT – increase of 2,130
  • ACT – increase of 3,120.

In 2020-21, overseas migration contributed a net loss to the population of each state and territory. In contrast, in the five years prior to the pandemic, a net gain was recorded in each state and territory.

  1. Estimates from September quarter 2021 onwards are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Based on the states with the largest volume of migrant arrivals and migrant departures.
  1. Estimates from September quarter 2021 onwards are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  2. Based on the states and territories with the smallest volume of migrant arrivals and migrant departures.

Country of birth

Historically, overseas migration has contributed a net gain to Australia's population, with migrants coming from many countries across the globe.

The top countries of birth contributing to changes in population vary for different states and territories. In 2021-22, those born in: 

  • Nepal were the highest contributor of net overseas migration to NSW
  • India were the highest contributor for Vic., Qld and SA,
  • The Philippines were the highest contributor for WA,
  • Samoa were the highest contributor for Tas.,
  • Afghanistan were the highest contributor for NT,
  • China were the highest contributor for ACT.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in New South Wales.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in Victoria.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in Queensland.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in South Australia.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in Western Australia.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in Tasmania.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in the Northern Territory.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  1. Top 5 countries of birth by the sum of migrant arrivals and migrant departures in year ending June 2022 in the Australian Capital Territory.
  2. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

Age

In 2021-22, the median age of:

  • migrant arrivals varied from 26 to 29 years of age across the states and territories 
  • migrant departures varied from 31 to 33 years of age.

In 2020-21, during the pandemic, the median age of:

  • migrant arrivals varied from 31 to 32 years, this was higher than 2021-22
  • migrant departures varied from 28 to 32 years, this was lower than 2021-22.

In 2018-19, prior to the pandemic the median age of :

  • migrant arrivals varied from 26 to 28 years of age across the states and territories, this was similar to 2021-22
  • migrant departures varied from 27 to 30 years of age, this was lower than 2021-22.
Table 5.11 Migrant arrivals and departures - median age(a) by state and territory
  NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
2021-22(c)         
 Arrivals26.426.227.726.328.828.328.327.126.8
 Departures31.931.331.132.633.332.331.232.131.8
2020-21         
 Arrivals31.931.531.731.932.130.931.232.531.8
 Departures29.328.028.929.231.630.431.628.128.9
2018-19         
 Arrivals26.525.926.726.227.626.927.626.526.4
 Departures28.628.028.328.329.728.829.827.328.5
  1. Median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.
  2. Includes Other Territories.
  3. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.
     

Sex

For migrant arrivals, the sex ratio for 2021-22 differed from the pre-pandemic period of 2018-19 and during the pandemic in 2020-21.

  • In 2021-22 it varied from 97 to 121 across the states and territories
  • in 2020-21 it varied from 97 to 156
  • in 2018-19 it varied from 98 to 123.

The sex ratios for migrant departures were different from migrant arrivals across the three time periods.

  • In 2021-22 it varied from 104 to 176
  • in 2020-21 it varied from 99 to 147
  • in 2018-19 it varied from 104 to 206.
Table 5.12 Migrant arrivals and departures - sex ratio(a) by state and territory
  NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
2021-22(c)        
 Arrivals104.297.299.1100.9106.3115.7121.198.9101.5
 Departures105.6104.1107.3105.5107.9125.4175.6105.4106.5
2020-21        
 Arrivals100.597.2114.5115.9107.0144.5156.197.0104
 Departures107.7105.199.4110.1110.5111.4146.8105.0106.0
2018-19        
 Arrivals101.7103.298.4100.6100.7101.4123.397.7101.6
 Departures106.6104.4111.2106.3117.0114.9205.7104.4108.9
  1. Sex ratio is the number of males per 100 females.
  2. Includes Other Territories.
  3. Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. See revision status on the methodology page.

Related ABS publications

National, state and territory population
- includes quarterly data on net overseas migration and net interstate migration estimates.

Regional population
- includes annual data on regional overseas migration and regional internal migration estimates.

Overseas arrivals and departures, Australia
- monthly statistics on all international travel arriving in and departing from Australia.

Australia's population by country of birth
- statistics on Australia's estimated resident population by country of birth.

Personal income of migrants, Australia
- statistics on personal income of migrants including employee income, own unincorporated business income, investment income and other income.

Understanding migrant outcomes - insights from the Australian Census and migrants integrated dataset, Australia, 2016
- statistics about permanent migrants: their employment, education, income, housing and geographic distribution.

Insights from the Australian Census and temporary entrants integrated dataset, Australia, 2016
- statistics about temporary entrants: their employment, education, income, housing and geographic distribution.

Migrant data matrices
- provides users with links to available summary data on migrants from a wide range of ABS surveys and outputs.

Enquiries

For further information about these publications and related statistics visit www.abs.gov.au/about/contact-us

Data downloads

I-note

Estimates for 2021-22 are preliminary. Preliminary estimates are based on outputs from a propensity model and data is therefore an aggregate, rather than a true count of each individual. Please take care when using the variables of preliminary estimates at this level of granularity. See revision status on the methodology page.

The estimates in these tables use the 12/16 month rule methodology for calculating net overseas migration. They have not been used in compiling Australia's official estimated resident population (ERP) until September quarter 2006 and onwards. See method used on the methodology page.

To confidentialise, estimates have been rounded to the nearest 10. As a result, sums of the components may not add to totals. Calculations made on rounded data may differ to those published. See confidentiality on the methodology page.

Country classification and codes are from the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0).

The visa information in these tables are the visa at time of traveller's specific overseas movement date. The number of visas here should not be confused with information on visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs as visas can be granted onshore. Over time, new visas created by Home Affairs are added to the visa hierarchy while the use of other visas may expire. Care should be taken in the analysis of overseas migration data by visa over time.

Time series spreadsheets

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