19 March 2009

Australian visa holders responsible for population boom

Australia's population is soaring due to high levels of people emigrating to Australia, particularly thousands of Australian skilled migrants, and holders of temporary Australian working visas and Australian student visas.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the population of Australia has reached 21.5 million people, and that people emigrating to Australia has been the primary source of the population jump. 

In the year to September 2008, the population grew by 389,000, with Australian migration numbers contributing 235,900 people.  Australian residents also had 295,200 babies over this period, making the population growth Australia's highest since 1970.

This week, the Government announced plans to reduce and refine its record Australian skilled migration program so that overseas workers would not cause unnecessary competition for local Australian workers looking for work.  Until the Budget release in July, the Australian skilled migration quota will have 115,000 places, down from 133,500, and the Australian skilled migration program will be more targeted to specific skills.  

According to The Age, Peter McDonald, an Australian demographer said temporary migrants on temporary Australian visas such as the Australia working holiday visa can be held accountable for the increase in Australian population.

"To be counted in the population … you have to be in Australia for 12 months, and there are a lot more people now who are in Australia on a temporary basis who stay for 12 months or more," he said. 

Australian working holiday visa holders can work and holiday in Australia for up to 12 months, and during that time can arrange sponsorship from an Australian employer so that they can remain permanently in the country.  An employer-nominated Australian visa applicant has top priority in the processing centre at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), and has therefore become a popular option for Australian migrants.

Professor MacDonald has also seen a strong performance in the Australian student visa program. 

"The biggest aspect of this increase in migration is the number of overseas students in Australia, and even in the current year the number of overseas students are still going up even in this recession year.  So I think we can expect overseas migration to remain high while the overseas students keep rising."

It has also been suggested that despite cutbacks to the Australian migration program, the population would continue to increase as ex-patriot Australians leave worse economies such as the UK to enjoy the relative economic stability in Australia, and New Zealanders continue their high levels of migration across the Tasman. 

If working in Australia is appealing to you, and you would like to find out if you are eligible for the Australian working holiday visa program, take the online assessment test through the Australian Visa Bureau website.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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