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Australia welcomes a record number of immigrants

25 March 20240 comments

Australia set a record for migrants arriving in the 2022-23 financial year with a net figure of 518,000 people added to the population according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“In the year ending 30 June 2023, overseas migration contributed a net gain of 518,000 people to Australia’s population. This was the largest net overseas migration estimate since records began,” an ABS report said.

The report said Many potential migrants didn’t come to Australia in 2020 and 2021 because of border closures and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this time temporary visa holders recorded the largest declines in arrivals. In 2022-23 the number of migrants arriving on temporary visas has gone up and the number departing has reduced slightly.

“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. Although overseas migration was a record high in 2022-23, the cycle of migration has not returned to the pattern seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ABS said.

“In 2022-23, the number of migrant arrivals increased to 737,000, up from 427,000 the year before. This equates to an annual increase of 73 per cent. In 2020-21, there was an annual decrease of 71 per cent, due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic. With the travel restrictions now lifted, the number of migrant arrivals has surpassed annual numbers recorded pre-pandemic.”

In the five years prior to the pandemic, the average number of migrant arrivals was 515,000 per year with the majority arriving on temporary visas (307,000).

 For those who arrived with a permanent visa, the average was 92,000. For Australian and New Zealand citizens arriving it was 77,000 and 32,000 respectively.

In 2022-23, those on temporary visas (554,000) recorded higher volumes than pre-pandemic levels. Permanent visa holder arrivals (80,000) and Australian citizen arrivals (59,000) however, recorded lower levels. New Zealand citizens (41,000) recorded higher volumes than the pre-pandemic five-year average. 

Of the temporary visa holders, the largest group was international students (283,000). Other temporary visa holders include working holiday makers (70,000) and temporary skilled (49,000). 

In 2022-23, the number of migrant departures decreased to 219,000, down from 223,000 the year before, representing a decrease of two per cent on the previous year and the lowest since 2006-07.

Although travel restrictions have been lifted, the number of migrant departures has remained lower than the pre-pandemic level, the ABS said.

“Prior to the pandemic there was a constant flow of temporary migrants arriving and departing. This cycle is not yet back to a regular pattern and low departures have had an upward impact on net overseas migration in 2022-23,” the ABS said.

“Many of those now arriving on temporary visas however, such as international students, will start to leave as their studies finish over the coming years, which will have a downward impact on net overseas migration in the future.”

In 2022-23, the top five countries of birth contributing to net overseas migration were India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Australia.

ABS data from the last decade shows steady increases for migrants born in India and China prior to the pandemic. However, for the Chinese-born, a decline started from late 2017, well before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The mix of countries where Australia’s migrant arrivals are born has changed considerably over time. In 2022-23, the largest region which contributed the most arrivals was Southern and Central Asia with 28 per cent.

A decade ago, in 2012-13, the largest group (20 per cent) was from North-East Asia.

In 2018-19, the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this had changed with the largest group (28 per cent) of immigrants coming from Southern and Central Asia.

This is a pattern which has continued post-pandemic. During the pandemic, in 2020-21, the largest group of migrant arrivals was from Oceania (20 per cent).