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People may enter Australia on a temporary basis under the temporary residence program, whether as visitors, students or for a range of specialised purposes.
Temporary entrants include:
- visitors or tourists
- business people for short stays
- people with specialist skills, such as managers, academics and medical practitioners
- people who make a social or cultural contribution to the community, such as entertainers, media and film staff, sports people, religious workers, visiting academics
- people who contribute to the development of international relations, such as diplomatic personnel, participants in exchange programs and working holiday makers.
Tourists come to Australia for holidays, to visit friends and family or for social and cultural events. Visitors are the largest group of temporary entrants to Australia, contributing to Australia's export earnings and employment.
Overseas students are Australia's second largest group of temporary entrants, with international education being one of Australia's largest export industries.
A total of 253 046 student visas were issued in 2011-12, an increase of one per cent compared with 2010-11. Students studying abroad create ties at a more personal level than formal international diplomacy.
Australians value the wealth of cultural diversity and social sophistication that international students bring to our campuses and communities. The internationalisation of Australian education offers people the opportunity to learn about other cultures and languages.
See: Fact Sheet 50 – Overseas Students in Australia
Temporary Residence program
Temporary residents bring new ideas, contacts, understanding, skills and technology to Australia enabling it to remain competitive – the key to further economic prosperity.
Australia benefits from the energy, skills, commitment and diversity which temporary residents bring to Australia and the contribution they make to the economy through spending and investment.
Sheet 47 – Temporary Residence
Skilled and business
Australia receives many thousands of short-term international business visitors each year.
The Business Visitor stream of the Visitor (subclass 600) visa permits business visitors to spend short periods in Australia for business purposes. Business purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit.
Businesses unable to meet their skill needs from within the Australian labour force can sponsor skilled workers from overseas on a temporary basis to work in Australia for up to four years.
There are special concessions available for employers in regional Australia.
A key objective of business temporary entry policy is to support Australian business in its endeavours to be internationally competitive, while ensuring employment and training opportunities for Australian residents are not compromised.
Some of the benefits for Australia are:
- employment creation
- enhancement of our skill and technology base
- development of cutting edge technologies and industries.
Sheet 48 – Helping Skilled and Business People
This group of visas includes entertainers, sports people, religious workers and people who are participating in a staff exchange arrangement between an Australian and overseas organisation. These professionals contribute to our skill base, and to increased understanding between cultures in Australia.
Australian industries continue to benefit from the experience and status of people from overseas.
Sheet 47 – Temporary Residence
The International Relations visa category seeks to foster better relations and cultural understanding between countries. Visitors include foreign government personnel, diplomats and working holiday makers.
Training and research
The Training and Research visa allows for the temporary entry of groups of professionals, managers and government officials from overseas who want to enhance their professional skills by taking part in tailored training programs, conduct research or to participate in academic activities.
Sheet 51 – Training and Research Visa - Professional Development Stream
Working Holiday visa program
The Working Holiday program aims to promote international understanding by helping young people experience other cultures. The reciprocal nature of the program offers similar opportunities for young Australians to undertake working holidays overseas.
Australia has reciprocal Working Holiday arrangements in effect with: Belgium, Canada, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
See: Fact Sheet
49 – Working
Work and Holiday visa program
Australia's Work and Holiday program allows young people from arrangement countries to have an extended holiday in Australia by supplementing their travel funds through incidental employment.
Australia currently has reciprocal Work and Holiday arrangements in effect
with Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the United
See: Fact Sheet 49a – Work and Holiday Program
Other visas include the Retirement visa, the Investor Retirement visa, and the Special Program visa. These people contribute both financially and socially to the enrichment of Australia.
Additional visitor information
For further information about visiting Australia see the following fact sheets:
Further information is available on the department's website.
The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone: 131 881
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.
Fact Sheet 46. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed March 2013.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2010.