What is driving rising migration: residents rising and students slowing

Monday December 05, 2016 Julian Williams

On an annual basis, rises in arrivals of migrants with Resident visas and falls in arrivals of migrants with Student visas are driving the increase in annual net migration.

Net migration in the year to September 2016 was 69,954, an increase of 8,720 from the September 2015 year. The increase of 8,720 is from an increase in arrivals of 6,760 and a decrease in departures of 1,960. A decrease in departures to Australia of 1,083 mostly explains the latter.


net permanent migration


There are two perspectives to explain the increase in arrivals. One is a country story. The 6,760 is made up from increases from Australia of 1,102, China of 1,607, and South Africa of 1,764, and a decline from India of 3,002. Together these only account for 1,471 of the overall increase with the balance made up by a net increase in arrivals from several other countries.

Another perspective is about the type of visa migrants hold. The 6,760 increase in arrivals is made up from 2,142 migrants applying for permanent residence and 3,865 on Work visas. Together with the increase in arrivals of Australia and New Zealand citizens who do not need visas and of other visas, and accounting for a fall in migrants with Student visas of 1,389, the net increase in arrivals of 6,760 is achieved.

The overall decline in arrivals with Student visas of 1,389, is the largest annual fall in recent times, and compares with September year increases of 5,610 in 2015, and 6,469 in 2014.

A fall in arrivals of migrants with Student visas from India of 3,170 to 7,538 mostly explains both the decline for Student visa arrivals overall and the decline for arrivals from India. At 7,538, Student visa arrivals from India are similar to the 2014 September year number of 7,552. Some might say this was expected following a large rise in the 2015 year, to 10,708.

A surprise result was an increase in migrants with Resident visas in the September 2016 year, of 2,142. This increase raised the annual level of Resident visa migrants from 13,907 to 16,049. This is the largest September year increase since 2006. We can explore this increase a little further to find that it mainly consists of increases from: China of 806, Fiji of 291, India of 261, the Philippines of 213 and a decline from the United Kingdom of 170.

The rising level of Resident visa arrivals is an encouraging signal to a growing economy.