Australia’s migrant intake will be lower in this financial year, possibly 25,000 places below the planned figure, the lowest in seven years.
The migration program has been at 190,000 since 2012-13, but dropped to 183,000 in the current financial year. The fall is due to reductions in the number of skilled and sponsored working visas. The total number of visas granted is likely to be around 165,000.
Based on Freedom Of Information (FOI) figures, obtained by the Guardian, up until the end of April this year the government had granted 138,086 permanent visas, divided broadly into two-thirds skilled, one-third family.
Comparing the first six months of the previous financial year with the first six months of the current year, the figures show the largest falls are among skilled independent and employer-sponsored work visas. These visas fell from 22,843 to 16,047, mainly because of changes to the 457 visa.
Skilled independent visas officially fell by over 3000, but that fall is likely to be several thousand places greater, because New Zealand migrants will be counted in this category in the 2017-18 financial year.
Under the Howard government (1996-2007), the permanent migration intake increased from about 70,000 to 150,000 annually, with a dramatic rise in the number of temporary migrants, mainly skilled workers and international students.
Over the past twenty years the country of origin for most migrants has shifted from places like the UK and South Africa, to China and India.
Since about 2005 migration has been a larger driver of population increase than babies being born in Australia. Migration now accounts for about 60% of Australia’s population increase.