Annual Report 2010–11

Program 1.1 Visa and migration

Program 1.1 consists of seven departmental items:

  • Economic migration
  • Family migration
  • Resident Return visas, Former Resident visas, Australian Declaratory visas and Certificates of Evidence of Resident Status
  • Students
  • Temporary residents (economic)
  • Temporary residents (non-economic)
  • Visitors and working holiday makers.

There is one administered item under Program 1.1: Joint Commonwealth, state and territory research program (for payments to the Australian Population, Multicultural and Immigration Research Program account).

Program 1.1 also includes the Migration Health Requirement and the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).

Permanent and temporary migration is a key contributor to Australia's economic, demographic and social needs. The department will continue to support the national debate on economic and population policy including a targeted migration program that responds to Australia's changing economic and social needs through ongoing:

  • lawful and orderly entry and stay of people
  • delivery of the annual Migration Program, within the parameters set by government to respond to Australia's labour and demographic needs and consistent with the objectives of the LTPF
  • implementation of strategies to strengthen the economic, budgetary, cultural and social benefits from both permanent and temporary migration
  • strengthening of our research capacity to enable evidence-based decisions and policy relating to population and migration issues
  • review and improvement of Australia's temporary entry arrangements to better meet the needs of business, education and tourism
  • assistance to the tourism and education industries to expand, including into new markets, while ensuring a high degree of immigration integrity
  • delivery of the permanent skilled migration program, which works effectively in conjunction with the domestic education and training agenda.

The following tables report against the deliverables and key performance indicators as published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010–11 and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2010–11.

Visa and migration—deliverables

Deliverable: Continue to develop and implement strategies to strengthen the economic and budgetary position.


Result: The 2010–11 Migration Program was rebalanced towards the Skill Stream, which represented 67.5 per cent of the permanent Migration Program planning level. The program delivered 113 725 visas, which represents 67.4 per cent of the result.


Skilled migrants strengthen Australia's economic and budgetary position by bringing in skills in need and making a positive fiscal contribution to the Federal Budget.


The 2010–11 Migration Program is estimated to have a positive net fiscal impact of $258.9 million on the Federal Budget over four years.

Deliverable: Provide benefits from both permanent and temporary migration.


Result: The department introduced a series of reform measures to permanent and temporary migration programs throughout 2010–11 to ensure the programs are targeted and responsive to emerging labour market needs. To achieve these objectives, the department has been moving towards a demand-driven skilled migration program with an emphasis on employer sponsored and state and territory government nominated migrants.


This move is shown through an increase to the employer-sponsored program to 39 per cent of the skill stream. Furthermore, in 2010–11, sponsored skilled migration represented more than 60 per cent of visas granted to skilled migrants continuing the shift towards employer, government and regional sponsored places. This increase has corresponded with a decline in the proportion of non-sponsored places.


On 1 July 2010, a new SOL was introduced for independent, Australian sponsored and state/territory sponsored (GSM program). In November 2010, a revised points test for selecting independent and Australian or state-sponsored skilled migrants was announced for implementation from 1 July 2011.


In 2010–11, state migration plans were implemented for each state and territory to afford them greater flexibility to address their individual skill needs and to tailor a migration solution accordingly. These plans provide flexibility to state and territory governments as they enable jurisdictions to nominate applicants for skilled migration from a much broader, less restrictive list of occupations than the SOL. The occupations included in each plan, as well as the number of places provided within the overall context of the Migration Program, were the result of extensive consultations between the Australian Government and respective state and territory governments.

Deliverable: Support quality and integrity in the Australian education industry.


Result: The department continued to support quality and integrity in the international education sector through facilitating the entry of genuine overseas students. A total of 250 438 people were granted student visas in 2010–11 (excluding student guardians).


On 16 December 2010, the Australian Government announced a strategic review of the student visa program as well as a package of measures to ease the pressure on the international education sector, including:

  • a reduction in the assessment levels for 38 countries in one or more student visa subclasses
  • amendments to policy surrounding the study of Certificate IV courses
  • changes to policy to further enable prepaid boarding fees to be counted towards a student's cost of living requirement.

These measures were implemented in 2010–11. The reductions in student visa assessment levels have streamlined the application process for almost 20 per cent of prospective students. This is largely due to the reduction of documentation that students need to provide in support of their applications.


The department also commenced publication of a new quarterly statistical report and annual trends report on the student visa program, which are a valuable resource for stakeholders in the international education sector. These reports provide, among other things, an explanation of the program and the requirements for visa applicants, data on visa applications and information about the major markets for each sector.


On 20 May 2011, the government announced alternative English language tests that will be accepted for student visa application purposes in order to address a current shortage of English language test places. Implementation of the new tests for student visas will be completed in 2011–12.

Deliverable: Support continued growth of the Australian tourism industry.


Result: The department supports the growth of the Australian tourism industry by facilitating the entry of genuine visitors to Australia, including working holiday makers.


In 2010–11, 3 518 588 people offshore were granted visitor visas, an increase of more than 100 000 visitors from
2009–10 (3 416 576). In addition, 192 922 Working Holiday Maker visas were granted in 2010–11, a slight increase from 2009–10 (183 161 grants).


Deliverable: Pursue the development of a long-term migration planning framework.


Result: During the year, the department began publicly releasing its quarterly net overseas migration forecasts in a report The Outlook for Net Overseas Migration.


The department is currently working with academics and utilising various macroeconomic and microeconomic models, to develop a LTPF. This framework will allow for whole-of-government planning and due consideration of future migration programs in line with Australia's longer-term demographic, economic and labour force needs.

Deliverable: Pursue a strategic and targeted research program on demographic and immigration issues.


Result: A number of research projects on immigration and demographic issues were completed in 2010–11. Reports published from these research projects are available on the department's website. In 2010–11, the department commissioned a range of new research projects on economic, demographic and social issues relating to immigration.


Deliverable: Examine through a pilot whether a seasonal work program could contribute to foreign aid objectives and also assist Australian employers.


Result: The Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme runs for three years, concluding in June 2012, and provides for up to 2500 visas for the life of the pilot. As at 30 June 2011, 546 visas have been granted in total. There were 423 visas granted in 2010–11. During the program year, 391 Pacific seasonal workers arrived in Australia.


The effect of the global financial crisis, long-running drought, availability of alternative labour sources and some issues with the pilot design resulted in the initial uptake of the pilot being slow. However, with improved economic and climatic circumstances and the changes to pilot parameters announced in December 2010, worker recruitment has increased.


The final evaluation of the pilot, administered by DEEWR as the lead agency, will be submitted to government in 2011.

Visa and migration—key performance indicators

Indicator: Deliver the Migration Program within government targets.


Result: In 2010–11, a total of 168 685 permanent visas were granted against the target of 168 700, reflecting a minor variation of 0.01 percent from the annual target. The skilled migration stream constituted 67.4 per cent of the total Migration Program result. Family migrants constituted 32.3 per cent of the program result. The Special Eligibility stream constituted 0.2 per cent of the program result.

Indicator: Visa applications are finalised within service standards and according to priority processing directions.


Result: Of all the applications processed in 2010–11, 91 per cent were finalised within service standards. In the permanent migration category, 60.9 per cent of skilled migration visa applications and 65.9 per cent of family migration visa applications were finalised within service standards. For temporary entrants, 92.5 per cent of visa applications were finalised within service standards.

Indicator: Ensure temporary and permanent migration does not increase the incidence of tuberculosis in the Australian community.


Result: The prevalence of tuberculosis in the general Australian population has remained stable at six cases per
100 000 head of population for more than 20 years despite significant increases in the number of people arriving in Australia from countries with high rates of tuberculosis.

Economic migration

Indicator: Strong economic and budgetary benefits from granting permanent residence visas to skilled and business migrants, as measured by economic and fiscal models and surveys of recent migrants.


Result: Estimates derived from the department's Migrants Fiscal Impact Model suggest that skilled (including business skills) migrants make a significant net positive fiscal contribution to the Commonwealth Budget. A positive fiscal contribution is a good indicator of a positive overall economic contribution made by skilled migrants.

Indicator: The skilled migration program works effectively in conjunction with the domestic education and training agenda, as measured by the employment outcomes of skilled migrants and labour market analysis.


Result: Results from the department's most recent Continuous Survey of Australia's Migrants indicate the superior labour market performance of employer sponsored migrants. Six months after arrival or grant of a visa, 96 per cent of these migrants were working, with almost 90 per cent in full-time skilled work with median annual earnings of $65 000 about $5000 greater than those of skilled independent migrants. Compared with migrants sponsored by state or territory governments or family members, their median annual earnings were $12 000 higher.

Indicator: Temporary program delivered in accordance with service standards.


Result: Data for temporary resident (economic) applications Temporary Business (Long Stay) (subcalss 457) show that 85.6 per cent of applications were finalised within service standards.

Cultural and social migration

Indicator: Develop and administer visa arrangements that further Australia's social, cultural and international relations.


Result: The working holiday maker program is a cultural exchange program that helps to further Australia's social, cultural and international relations. The program increases people-to-people links between Australia and participating countries and promotes closer ties by allowing young people (aged 18–30) to have an extended holiday, supplemented by short-term employment. Australia has 19 reciprocal Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa arrangements and seven reciprocal Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa arrangements with other countries. In 2010–11, Australia commenced or continued the negotiation of a further nine Work and Holiday visa arrangements with new countries.


The social, cultural and international relations visa programs continue to facilitate the movement of people involved in activities that contribute to the enrichment of Australian social, cultural and academic life and foster international goodwill. For example, a new bilateral government-to-government arrangement between France and Australia was established to facilitate the exchange of trainees between the two countries. This agreement is reciprocal and promotes closer cooperation between the two countries.

Indicator: Deliver temporary programs in accordance with service standards with no significant diminution in integrity.


Result: In 2010–11, the department maintained the integrity of visitor visas, and service standards were met across all visitor visas. The modified non-return rate remained low at 0.7 per cent, compared to 0.8 per cent in the 2009–10 program year.


The department maintained its focus on integrity initiatives for the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa during 2010–11. This focus did not affect service standards which were met for both the first and second Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa during 2010–11. Similarly, the service standard for the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program was met in 2010–11.

Table 5: Visa and migration—performance information

Key performance indicators
2008–09 actual
2009–10 actual
2010–11 target
2010–11 actual
Deliver the Migration Program within the planning levels determined by government1 171 318 168 623 Up to
168 700
168 685
Level of tuberculosis (TB) incidence in the Australian community stemming from migration Contribute to the maintenance of TB rates in Australia at <6 cases per 100 000 people 6.4 persons per 100 000 people

Economic migration

Percentage of temporary economic visa applications (subclass 457) finalised within service standards2 82.4%** 81.9%** 75% 85.6%**
Economic migration is delivered within government planning levels1 114 777 107 868 Up to
113 850
113 725

Cultural and social migration

Percentage of temporary program applications finalised within service standards2 92.9% 93.9% 75% 93.2%
Family migration is delivered in line with government planning levels1 56 366 60 254 Up to
54 550
54 543
Special eligibility component is delivered in line with government planning levels1 175 501 Up to 300 417
Percentage of temporary entrants (visitors, working holiday makers, students) who abide by their visa conditions remains high
or increases
99.4% 99.2% >95% 99.0%
Percentage of applications from
eligible caseloads lodged through eVisa
80.4% 86.3% >80%3 87.6%

Note: On 8 February 2010, the government announced the Critical Skills List would be phased out. The function of the list was superseded by the introduction of a new and more targeted Skilled Occupation List, which was introduced on 1 July 2010.

  1. Change in target/estimate text from the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010–11.
  2. Service standards are available on
  3. Target was changed in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2010–11 from >33 per cent in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010–11.

** Business (Long Stay) visa subclass 457 only. These figures were revised as at 30 June 2011 to include the latest information, including changes arising from late reporting and data cleansing. The figures therefore may differ from statistics previously published.