Migration, Australia 2018-19

Centre for Population analysis of the Migration, Australia data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

Reference period: 2018-1928 April 2020

Net Overseas Migration (NOM) was 239,600 for the 2018-19 financial year, up slightly from 238,200 in the previous year. In 2018-19 NOM was made up of 537,800 arrivals and 298,200 departures.

There are 7.5 million Australian residents who are born overseas, 29.7 per cent of the population. This is up from 29.4 per cent in June 2018.

This ABS release refers to a period prior to international outbreak of COVID-19. It is released annually and was previously called 3412.0 Migration, Australia.

Net Overseas Migration

Net overseas migration remains steady, at just under 240,000 annually. This period of stability in NOM is in contrast to the frequent periods of rising or declining NOM over the past decade, with changing policy and economic conditions causing the level of migration to fluctuate.

National NOM, arrivals and departures, financial years 2004-05 to 2018–⁠19

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Migration, Australia

While the level of NOM has been relatively stable since December 2017, the composition of NOM is changing. The contribution of permanent migrants to NOM is falling, down 24,000 since 2016-17.

This reflects a reduction in the permanent migration cap and an increased share of permanent visas being granted to migrants already onshore.

The decline in arrivals from permanent migrants is offset by growth in students. Student numbers began increasing in early 2013 reflecting growing demand for Australia’s higher education services. Students added over 112,000 to the population in 2018-19, up 9 per cent from the previous year.

Overall, temporary visa holders accounted for 64 per cent of arrivals, and 53 per cent of departures in 2018-19. International students accounted for 32 per cent of all arrivals up from 30 per cent in 2017-18.

In 2018-19, 74,900 Australian citizens returned to Australia after living overseas but in the same year 86,700 decided to move overseas.

Visa Composition

Visa composition of NOM, financial years 2017, 2018 and 2019
Visa Category Visa Subcategory 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Australian Citizens   -13,300 -12,600 -11,800
New Zealand Citizens   6,700 7,500 8,000
Permanent Migrants   85,700 67,200 61,600
  Family 24,100 20,700 17,900
  Skilled 38,100 35,500 30,100
  Humanitarian 24,000 12,000 15,100
  Other Permanent -500 -1,000 -1,500
Temporary Migrants   183,600 183,700 188,600
  Students 102,600 102,200 112,700
  Temporary Skilled 16,800 11,400 16,400
  Working Holiday 24,400 28,500 25,500
  Visitor 53,800 58,600 53,000
  Other Temporary -13,900 -17,000 -19,000
Other1   600 -7,700 -6,900
Total   263,400 238,200 239,600

1. Other refers to migrants with insufficient visa information.

States and territories

Across the states and territories, around 90 per cent of NOM has been distributed across four states for the past 15 years: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. But the distribution across these states has changed since the end of the mining boom construction phase. At the end of the boom in 2011-12, NOM in these four states were similar, ranging between 47,000 and 57,000, or some 20-25 per cent of total NOM.

Since the end of the boom, migrants have increasingly chosen to settle in New South Wales and Victoria. These two states together have accounted for around 70 per cent of NOM since 2014-15.

In New South Wales and Victoria, NOM fell for the second year in a row to June 2018-19 as the declines in permanent migrants (both skilled and family) offset any increase in international student demand.

Age Structure by Country of Birth

Over the last 20 years, overseas migration has altered Australia’s age structure by making the working age population much larger and increasing the number of Australian born children.

Migration has made age groups from 25 to 34 the largest cohorts in the population. Further, as migrants are forming families and having children in Australia, this contributes to children being the largest cohorts in the Australian born population.