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Where to find immigration data: a quick guide

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ISSN 2203-5249


Where to find immigration data: a quick guide Dr Susan Love Social Policy

The Department of Home Affairs has gradually been expanding and adapting its statistical products. This quick guide looks at available immigration data and where to find it, including some relatively new reports. It sets out selected visa data sources and reports published by the Department of Home Affairs on the permanent Migration Program, the permanent Humanitarian Program, temporary visa programs, and citizenship.

Most of the available information is either on the Home Affairs website in the form of written statistical reports, or on the Australian Government’s website in the forms of Excel spreadsheets or pivot tables.

Below are listed some of the key products. When using these, please be aware of the relevant notes and caveats in each document. A pivot table user guide is available on the relevant webpages.

Overview reports

The Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Programs Reports: The Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Programs

First issued in 2019, this report provides a useful starting point for information on Home Affairs’ immigration functions and programs. It covers the Migration and Humanitarian programs and temporary visas, as well as other migration-related issues including citizenship, people smuggling, migrant worker exploitation, and visa cancellations. It presents details of policy and operational

matters, and discusses current issues (such as responses to the COVID-19 pandemic). It provides data in table and chart formats on numbers of visa applications lodged, visas granted, and breakdowns by program, category and other characteristics.

The ninth edition of the report was published in February 2022, with data up to 31 December 2021. Shorter addendums with updated data are published approximately monthly. Previous editions are also available on the website, although the earlier editions are less comprehensive.

Australia’s Migration Trends Reports: Australia’s Migration Trends, Home Affairs Migration Program statistics webpage, annual

Data: Australian Migration Statistics, spreadsheet, annual since 2016-17 (covers previous years)

Where to find immigration data: a quick guide 2

Australia’s Migration Trends covers a similar range of data as the Administration report above. It has been produced (almost) annually since 2010-11. In recent years, it has taken the form of a ‘highlights’ report with summary visa statistics. Earlier editions contained more explanations of program settings and more detailed presentations of data, a role now seemingly filled by the Administration report. Recent data is available in the Australian Migration Statistics spreadsheet.

Annual Reports Reports: Annual Reports

Some information on visa and citizenship processing is available in the Home Affairs Annual Report 2020-21, as part of the Department’s performance measures reporting ( refer to Part 2). The amount of statistical information in Home Affairs (and its predecessor departments) annual reports varies considerably over the years.

Migration Program

Report on Migration Program Reports: Report on Migration Program, Home Affairs Migration Program statistics webpage, annual since 2009-10

Data: Permanent Migration Program (Skilled & Family) Outcomes Snapshot - Annual Statistics 2011-12 to 2020-21, pivot table

The Report on the Migration Program provides tables and charts of visa activity in the Migration Program categories including lodgements, grants, on-hand applications and grant rates This data is broken down including by top countries of citizenship, state or territory of intended residence, and state and territory breakdowns by visa category.

Although the report has been published annually since 2009-10, the dataset has only this year been made available on in pivot table format. The dataset is for visas granted (not applications), but the pivot table options include type or subclass of visas, age group, gender, citizenship country, intended state or territory of residence and (where relevant) occupation.

For an overview of the Migration Program, see also the Library’s Australia's Permanent Migration Program: a quick guide.

Historical Migration Statistics Data: Historical Migration Statistics spreadsheet, updated annually

This dataset presents permanent migrant arrivals and additions to Australia since 1945, including by migration stream and country of origin/citizenship. It also includes Humanitarian Program visas granted by category since 1977-78.

Humanitarian Program Reports: Australia’s Offshore Humanitarian Program, annual since 2019-20; Onshore Humanitarian Program, annual since 2017-18, Home Affairs Humanitarian Program statistics webpage

Data: Australian Migration Statistics spreadsheet, annual since 2016-17 (covers previous years)

The Australia’s Offshore Humanitarian Program report provides a relatively detailed overview of subclass lodgements, finalisations and grants of visas in the Refugee and Special Humanitarian

Where to find immigration data: a quick guide 3

categories for the last 5 years, including top 10 countries of origin/residence. It also contains processing times and information on the Community Support Program.

The Onshore Humanitarian Program report is a one-page summary of permanent Protection visa statistics.

These reports do not include temporary protection visas or asylum seeker information. The Australian Migration Statistics spreadsheet does have a table of Temporary Protection visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise visas (SHEVs) granted but only for the past 2 years. Further information on TPVs and SHEVs is available in the Temporary visa holders in Australia dataset (see below) and in the Legacy Caseload reports on the Humanitarian Program statistics webpage.

Temporary visas The Administration and Australia’s Migration Trends sources have some information on temporary visa programs, however, both the Home Affairs statistics webpage and have more detailed reporting. The pivot tables on allow detailed breakdowns of visas and characteristics over time. The program reports on the Home Affairs statistics webpage are generally half-yearly and provide some information on the particular temporary visa program settings, as well as analysis and data presented in charts and tables.

Temporary visa holders in Australia Data: Temporary visa holders in Australia, pivot table, currently updated monthly

This dataset provides quarterly snapshots of the number of visa holders in Australia on a temporary visa as at the given date. This includes New Zealand citizens (Special Category visa holders) and Temporary Protection visa holders.

Visitor visas Report: Visitor visa program report, Home Affairs visa statistics ‘visit’ webpage

Data: Visitor visas granted, pivot table

Working Holiday Makers Report: Working Holiday Maker visa program report, Home Affairs visa statistics ‘visit’ webpage

Data: Working Holiday Maker visas granted, pivot table

Students and Temporary Graduates Report: Student visa and Temporary Graduate visa program report, Home Affairs visa statistics ‘study’ webpage

Data: Student visa program, pivot tables: Student visas lodged; Student visas granted; Student visas grant rates

Temporary Graduate visa program, pivot tables: Temporary Graduate visas lodged; Temporary Graduate visas granted

Temporary work visas Report: Temporary resident (skilled) report, Home Affairs visa statistics ‘work’ webpage

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Data: Temporary Work (Skilled) visa program, pivot tables: Temporary Work (Skilled) visas granted; Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders (visa holders currently in Australia) (Note: visa subclasses 457 and 482 only)

Visa processing times Some information on visa processing and waiting times for applications to be finalised is given in the Administration report (in-text discussion) and the Report on the Migration Program (numbers of applications on-hand as at 30 June).

The Home Affairs webpage has more detailed information on visa processing times and processing priorities. This includes a searchable list by visa subclass. Processing times are expressed by the timeframe (in days or months) for a given percentage of applications for a particular visa subclass to be processed. For example, as at 29 March 2022, 50% of Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visas were processed within 5 months and 90% were processed within 35 months.

Note that the website offers the latest available processing times only (updated approximately monthly), not trends or changes over time. Processing timeframes are not available for all visas.

Citizenship applications The Home Affairs citizenship statistics webpage gives numbers of citizenship conferrals and the top 10 prior nationalities, but only for the most recent year. Citizenship processing times are available elsewhere on the Home Affairs website. The Australian Migration Statistics dataset has a table of citizenship conferrals by gender for the top 15 countries of prior nationality, but only for the year of publication.

The Home Affairs Annual Report 2020-21 provides citizenship conferrals over the past 5 years (as well as other citizenship processing data), but does not include prior nationality (p. 82).

The Administration report has data on citizenship processing for the past 10 years, but this is by number of applications finalised and approved (or otherwise), rather than actual conferrals (an approved applicant must usually attend a citizenship ceremony to be conferred citizenship).

Further sources Additional migration-related data is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS): see the publication Overseas Migration as a starting point. This provides an overview of net overseas migration and arrivals and departures from Australia (in contrast to the Home Affairs data which is primarily focused on visa grants). It includes downloadable data and links to related ABS publications.

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