Country profiles

About the profiles

These country profiles bring together a whole of country perspective on permanent and temporary migrant inflows and outflows and provide relevant information, including key statistical data, on the different types of visa categories. The country profiles also include key findings relating to emigration from Australia as well as migrants' occupation and demographic characteristics. Collectively, the country profiles provide information for 14 migrant source countries.

List of countries

The top 10 countries providing the most permanent migrants to Australia in order of rank for 2013-14 are:

  1. India
  2. People's Republic of China
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Republic of the Philippines
  5. Pakistan
  6. Ireland
  7. Vietnam
  8. South Africa
  9. Nepal​
  10. Malaysia.

In addition to the top 10 countries, the following country is profiled to provide a regional context of migration to Australia:

The top three source countries of humanitarian entrants to Australia are:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Iraq
  3. Myanmar.

Further reading

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection produces numerous statistics relating to Australia’s Migration Programme.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides more detailed information about the land, people, history and governments of more than 240 countries and economies.

The Department of Social Services has collated broad statistics from the 2011 Australian Census of Population and Housing for more than 100 countries.

The International Monetary Fund provides a variety of data and statistics for each of its member countries.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency consolidates a variety of information including economic, people and transnational issues for numerous countries in a publication called The World Factbook.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) produces an annual publication – Education at a Glance - summarising the state of education around the world.

The United Nations Development Programme produces the report – Human Development Report – that measures the progress of education, health and income.

The World Bank provides a snapshot of migration and remittances for all countries in their publication – Migration and Remittances Factbook.

Permanent migration

Australia’s permanent Migration Programme incorporates economic and family reunion migration and is the main pathway to permanent residence. The only other way for migrants to obtain permanent residence is to be accepted into Australia on humanitarian grounds.  The Migration Programme is based on non-discriminatory principles relating to nationality, gender and religion. People who meet the criteria set out in the Migration Act 1958 can apply to migrate regardless of their ethnic origin, gender or religion.

Permanent migration refers to the number of visas granted in any given year, without taking into account whether the visa recipient actually arrived and settled in Australia.  Skilled migration focuses on facilitating the permanent entry of those who can make a positive contribution to Australia through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurial spirit and employment potential.  Family migration facilitates the entry of close family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The programme is currently dominated by Partners and dependent children, but also provides options for other family members, such as Carers, Parents and Aged Dependent Relatives.

See: Permanent migration 2014-14​ table (47KB PDF), which shows the size and composition of the Skill Stream, Family Stream and Special Eligibility for the Migration Programme for 2013–14. 

The graph below shows the change in the Migration Programme over the past 10 years.


Temporary migration

Depending on the purpose and duration of their visit, people can come to Australia on a Visitor visa, or through an appropriate temporary resident visa.  Temporary resident visas are designed for specific purposes, for example, study, working holidays or other specialist activities. Temporary residents are generally required to pay taxes on income earned in Australia and do not normally have access to public welfare or public health programmes.

The Student visa programme consists of a range of visa categories that broadly correspond to education sectors. Students must study with an education provider and in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. The subclass 457 visa programme allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign workers for employment in management, professional, technical and skilled trades’ positions. The programme is demand-driven and highly responsive to Australian labour market conditions. Visitor visas are mostly used by people visiting Australia for holidays, tourism or recreation, or to see family and friends. People may also use Visitor visas for certain short-term business activities.

See: Temporary migration 2013-14 table (53KB PDF), which shows the size and composition of the Student visa programme, Temporary Work (Skilled)(subclass 457) and Visitors for 2013–14. 

The graph below shows the change in Temporary Migration over the past 10 years.


Economic and human development indicators

Key economic and development indicators are useful in understanding the reasons why migrants choose Australia as a destination for permanent or temporary migration.

See: Economic and human development indicators​ table (82KB PDF file), which presents information obtained from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the CIA World Factbook, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Human Development Index is a composite statistics produced by the United Nations Development Programme encompassing life expectancy, education and income indices to rank countries.

Country position

Being among the top 10 contributing countries to Australia’s Migration Programme does not mean that a country will be in the top 10 across all visa categories. 

See: Country position table (43KB PDF), which shows the country position based on 2013–14 data and provides a succinct insight into which are the major source countries for different migration categories. If a profiled source country does not make the top 20, their relative position is shown in brackets.



Success stories

Andy and Dawn with their children

When Andy and his wife Dawn headed to London from their home near Brighton for an Australian jobs expo, they had no idea they were taking the first steps on a journey that would take them to a new life half-way around the world.


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