Latest Australian immigration and visa figures from the OECD

18 June 2013


In June 2013, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued its International Migration Outlook report for 2013. The report contains summaries of changes in immigration in the 34 member countries of the OECD including Australia.

Australia accepted 219,500 permanent migrants in 2011/12. The majority of these came under the Australian government's skill stream. This stream is reserved for workers and their families. Only 56,200 actual work visas were granted but this amounts to 25.6% of the total, compared to only 6.1% in the US in 2011.

The main source countries for new permanent residents in Australia under the Australian migration programme in 2011/12 were India (29,000) and China (25,500). The OECD reports that seven of the top ten countries of origin for new residents in 2011/12 are in Asia which may reflect Australia's decision to focus on its regional relationships in the coming century.

Third highest number of work program migrants from UK

The UK still provided the third highest number of settlers under the migration program (25,000). In addition, 44,000 New Zealanders settled in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement which allows free movement between the two countries.

The OECD reports that Australia also accepted some 680,000 temporary migrants in 2011/12. Many of these were students (37%). In Australia, the OECD reports, in 2011/12 550,000 international students were studying in Australia. Over 75% of these were from Asian countries.

The OECD notes that Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) were introduced in Australia in May 2012. These EMAs enable Australian employers to apply for a large number of Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas (known as 457 visas) at once to enable them to employ foreign workers to work in large projects with a projected cost of over AUS$2bn. This may have contributed to the rise in the number of 457 visas issued in 2011/12 compared to the previous year.

SkillSelect introduced in 2012

The OECD also refers to the introduction of Australia's SkillSelect program in July 2012. This system is designed to make Australia's immigration system more responsive to the needs of business. Under the new system, anyone wishing to emigrate to Australia as a skilled worker must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Australia's Department of Immigration and Employment (DIAC). They will then be invited to apply for a visa if DIAC thinks they are desirable.

Permanent Migration inflows 2010/11
20102011
Work46,50056,200
Family120,800112,300
Humanitarian14,60014,000
Free movements24,40034,600
Total208,500219,500

Temporary Migration inflows 2010/11
2010 2011
Students 158,200 126,200
Seasonal workers 100 400
Temporary workers 175,700 185,500
Intra company transfers 4,300 5,400
Others 91,100 114,500

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