In 2020, Australia received 165 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status), -15.4% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 7.2% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 26.6% labour migrants, 58.2% family members (including accompanying family) and 8% humanitarian migrants. Around 123 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 207 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants.

India, China and the United Kingdom were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Nepal registered the strongest increase (800) and New Zealand the largest decrease (-9 400) in flows to Australia compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -26%, to reach around 14 100. The majority of applicants came from Malaysia (2 100), China (2000) and Afghanistan (1 100). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Afghanistan (800) and the largest decrease nationals of Malaysia (-1 900). Of the 22 000 decisions taken in 2021, 10% were positive.

For 2021-22, the Migration Program planning level was maintained at 160 000 places. The number will remain the same for 2022-23, but the allocation will shift to favour the Skilled category (109 900 compared to 79 600 for 2021-22) to ease critical workforce shortages and support the economic recovery from COVID-19. To support social cohesion outcomes and family reunification, from 2022-23 the Partner visa category will move to a demand driven model and, consequently, will no longer be subject to a ceiling.

On 23 May 2022, the Hon. Anthony Albanese MP was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. The Australian Government is giving active consideration to the size and composition of the Permanent Migration Program for 2022-23 and beyond.

Australia’s international border measures were progressively introduced from February 2020 and were a key tool in keeping COVID-19 at manageable levels. Australia’s international border remained largely closed until 1 November 2021 when it began a staged reopening to fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents. On 15 December 2021, certain fully vaccinated visa holders no longer needed to apply for a travel exemption to enter Australia. On 21 February 2022, Australia implemented the third major step in reopening to all remaining fully vaccinated visa holders, predominantly tourists. The final stage of reopening occurred on 6 July 2022 when the remaining border restrictions for entering Australia ceased.

Visa extensions (through 31 December 2022) were made available for Prospective Marriage visa holders who were unable to travel to Australia due to travel restrictions.

To support international students impacted by COVID-19, the relaxation of the working hours requirement was extended. Temporary Graduate Visa holders were eligible for visa extensions or a second visa if they lost time in Australia. The stay period for Masters by Coursework applicants was increased from two to three years. Graduate Work Stream applicants no longer need to nominate an occupation from the skilled occupation list.

Two new visa streams for eligible Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) passport holders opened on 5 March 2022, providing more pathways to permanent residence in Australia.

Effective from 1 July 2022, certain Temporary Work and Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders currently working in Australia are able to apply for permanent residency under the Employer Nomination Scheme.

In line with its commitment under the Global Compact on Refugees to expand access to third-country solutions, Australia is a core member of the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility and is committed to working with the international community to foster global dialogue on labour complementary pathways for refugees and displaced people.

In 2021, the government, working in collaboration with Talent Beyond Boundaries, commenced the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement pilot programme aimed at providing skilled refugees with a pathway to live and work in Australia.

The 2021-22 Humanitarian Program was set at 13 750 places maintaining Australia’s long-term commitment to resettlement while also taking account of the challenges associated with COVID-19.

For further information:

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at