Australian temporary visa numbers surge past 2.3 million

The Department of Home Affairs temporary visa statistics for the March quarter of 2019 have been released with the total number of temporary visas on issue ballooning past 2.3 million:

As shown above, this was the highest number of temporary visas on issue for a March quarter on record, with total visas up 92,400 on March 2018 and 635,600 higher than March 2012.

The next table shows the changes by temporary visa category:

As you can see, international students (+268,000) are by far the largest driver of the surge in temporary migrants since 2012. There has also been big rises in visitor visas (+128,500) and bridging visas (+96,000) over the same period.

As noted yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ short-term arrivals data shows a similarly large rise in student visas, from 367,000 in March 2012 to 610,000 as at March 2019:

This surge in student visas represents further bad news for Australian wage growth. International students have been at the pointy end of the systemic exploitation of migrant workers and wage theft across the Australian economy, as noted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions:

The relatively recent availability of a large and vulnerable pool of temporary migrant workers has undoubtedly contributed to current record low levels of wages growth and a growing reluctance by employers to train local workers…
While there are approximately 1.5 million temporary entrants with work rights, the overseas worker team at the Fair Work Ombudsman consists of only 17 full time inspectors to investigate cases of exploitation – over 80,000 visa workers per inspector. Inadequate enforcement and penalties act as an incentive for employers to exploit temporary workers when the benefit from doing so outweighs the cost of the penalty. or where the probability of being caught is sufficiently low….
There have been a range of abuses uncovered which have clearly shown that the entire system is broken. From 7-11 and Domino’s to agriculture, construction, food processing to Coles, Dominos and Caltex, it is clear that the abuses occur in a number of visa classes whether they be students, working holiday makers or visa workers in skilled occupations.
Last year’s book, The Wages Crisis in Australia, raised similar concerns about the surge in migrant workers and their deleterious impact on wages:

Official stock data indicate that the visa programmes for international students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have tripled in numbers since the late 1990s…

Decisions by the federal Coalition government under John Howard to introduce easier pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders, especially international students and temporary skilled workers, gave a major impetus to TMW [temporary migrant worker] visa programmes.

Most international students and temporary skilled workers, together with many working holiday makers, see themselves as involved in a project of ‘staggered’ or ‘multi-step’ migration, whereby they hope to leap from their present status into a more long-term visa status, ideally permanent residency…

Though standard accounts describe Australian immigration as oriented to skilled labour, this characterisation stands at odds with the abundant evidence on expanding temporary migration and the character of TMW jobs… the fact that their work is primarily in lower-skilled jobs suggests that it is more accurate, as several scholars point out, to speak of a shift in Australia towards a de facto low-skilled migration programme

Research shows that in industries where employers have turned to temporary migrants en masse, it erodes wages and conditions in these industries over time, making them less attractive to locals…

Alongside eroding tertiary education standards and crush-loading the major cities, Australia’s international student boom is also flooding Australia’s labour market with cheap exploitative labour.

It’s time the international student trade was subjected to public review by the Productivity Commission to ascertain the true costs and benefits of the system.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist


  1. It doesn’t include the DFAT & special visas or the very long stay & repeat stay visitors.

    Here are the full numbers & some views of each visa category, the social & economic impact and the suggested resolution to fix the problem.

    The bigger picture.
    In March 2019 we have 2.561 million non residents Temporary visa holders.

    1,866,089 who are non Resident TR, the vast majority are third world unskilled & at least 1.4 million are working & living illegally in visa breach.

    Plus another 695,760 on a NZ SCZ with 278,304 of those as non NZ born & third world unskilled.

    Total 2,561,849. Up 5.3% in the last year.

    The full list as of March 2019.
    Source: Visa Sure & DHA quarterly tables.

    Visa category, the 2018 number, the 2019 number & the yearly growth rate.

    🔹Overstayers permanent stay
    2018: 63,000
    2019: 66,150 +5%

    🔹Visitor long stay, repeat stay, many are entering to live & work illegally.
    2018: 395,000
    2019: 404,760 +3%

    🔹Bridging/protection, come in as a tourist on an electronic visa virtually no checks then claim some protection need and a 5 year plus stay as they exploit the appeals process with full work rights.
    2018: 195,000
    2019: 230,000 +18%

    The Foreign students & partners – please note the actual total of all foreign students & partners on a secondary visa in Australia is across a number of visa categories and is 712,050.

    The International student and post graduate visa holders are 653,000, plus another 62,000 on a ‘partner visas’ & the rest (6,280) as special or DFAT scholarship visas as shown below.

    The total number of foreign students & partners yearly increase was 77,340.

    🔹International Student primary, 4 year plus stay, and many up to 9 years as they churn courses, COE & visa categories.
    2018: 526,000
    2019: 573,520 +7.5%

    🔹Post Graduate, another 3-5 year stay plus full work rights as they exploit this loophole, very long stay
    2018: 65,000
    2019: 69,550 +7%

    🔹Temp partner ‘foreign student’ very long stay – 4 to 9 years
    2018: 53,000
    2019: 62,000 +16%

    DFAT/special ‘education’ visas (below)
    2018: 6,300
    2019: 6,980 +15%

    Total foreign students & partners

    The foreign students pay a total of only $8.3 billion in fees (Deloitte Access Economics) – an average of $11,650 per year for the visa alibi.

    Exposing that the vast bulk of foreign students as a ‘primary’ / enrolled are doing extremely low level education, often available free online or in their home country.

    Funds. They only bring in a total of $2.4 billion in ‘self declared’ or ‘one time check’ funds (ABF), extensively frauded, with only the first semester paid & the rest of the money for fees, living expenses, loan debt repayment & remittances back to their family’s is earned here illegally.

    Not an ‘export’ if their money is earned here.

    The average foreign student has an income & economic activity of around $43,700 a year – close to half the Australian GDP per Capita average, with up to 75% working illegally (Sydney Uni & UTS studies – SMH).
    They have lowered the Australian gdp per Capita average by 6.8%.
    The net result is over 505,000 full time equivalent Australian jobs are stolen in underground & cash in hand illegally work displacing Australian youth & unskilled Workers.
    We have 1.5 million Australians unemployed & 1.3 million seeking work (Roy Morgan April 2019).
    Those 505,000 now unemployed Australians cost $9.3 billion in Centrelink payments.
    So just the unemployment impact costs to the Australian taxpayer exceed the total foreign student fees (which are paid from money earned illegally here anyway).

    On just this one simple measure it’s obvious the ‘foreign students’ are not an ‘export industry’ at all.

    If you add on illegal work, lowered wages for everyone, little or no taxation as cash in hand, the $18 billion remittances outflow from all the TR, the housing contention & costs, illegal cash in hand subletting run by the foreign criminal landlords, the public transport & road congestion, crime, vice, the degradation of our education and now environmental (water power etc) impacts…

    then the foreign student industry is a massively negative social and economic impact of many tens of billions to Australia. Up to $17 billion negative, itemised here on MB before.

    Which means every foreign student & partner individually creates a -$25,000 or more net negative impact to Australian’s society & economy.

    Then we have outside of the foreign students,
    🔹Temp partners not foreign student
    2018: 38,000
    2019: 39,300 +3%

    🔹Working holiday, very long stay
    2018: 148,000
    2019: 153,400 + 4%
    90% are in Sydney & Melbourne, doing the 3 month ‘farmer or labor ring bribe’ rural work for a further visa extension.

    🔹Skilled Regional, very long stay
    2018: 20,000
    2019: 21,500 +7%
    Again heavily frauded, third world unskilled in areas where we have 20% youth unemployment.

    🔹Other Temporary Visas, long stay including scholarships & other rackets.
    2018: 70,000
    2019: 72,800 +4%

    🔹Employer Sponsored, very long stay
    2018: 152,000
    2019: 155,040 +2.4%

    🔹Business Provisional, long stay
    2018: 28,000
    2019: 28,840

    ➡️ The Total TR number is
    2018: 1,762,000
    2019: 1,866,089 + 5.9%

    🔹Plus add on the NZ SCV

    2018: 669,000 of which 270,000 are non NZ born born third world unskilled entering via the NZ transit lounge.
    Our fastest growing third world unskilled migrant intake category. They should never have been allowed in, the NZ / Aust SCV should only be for NZ / Aust born.

    2019: 695,760 with an increasing ratio of non NZ born unskilled (and another 290,000 who are stacked up waiting for entry into Australia). 90% one way flow to enter NZ, get the passport stamp, then enter Australia as permanent stay.

    All up numbers.

    2018: 2,431,000 non resident permanent on a very long or permanent stay visa alibi onshore in Australia.

    2019: 2,561,849 non resident, as above & mostly third world adult unskilled with the majority on a visa pretext, many in visa breach, living & working illegally onshore. +5.3% yearly growth.

    TR & NZ SCV migrant concentrations.

    89% + concentration or 2,280,046 in Sydney & Melbourne.

    🔻1.27 million are in Sydney (pop 5.2 million)
    🔹1 in 4 people.

    🔻1.01 million are in Melbourne (pop 5 million)
    🔹1 in 5 people.

    🔻and 281,000 are elsewhere, mostly highly concentrated in other state capital cities & towns.

    The Australian people need a Royal Commission into the entire corrupted border controls & visa system.

    Our migrant intake policy settings, conditions of entry & numbers need to be controlled by a people’s representative body, not the political party in charge of government.

    Over 1.4 million temporary visa holders who are in visa breach & over 270,000 non NZ born SCV who should never have been allowed in – need to be force exited.

    • I appreciate what you put into that. Thanks Mike.

      “The Australian people need a Royal Commission into the entire corrupted border controls & visa system”

      Why isn’t the party for Australian workers Labor pushing for this?

      • Because they aren’t a party for workers. My current experience with unions is they are simply an extension of management and in fact a breeding ground for future managers within an organisation. It’s sickening.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      2018: 669,000 of which 270,000 are non NZ born born third world unskilled entering via the NZ transit lounge.
      Our fastest growing third world unskilled migrant intake category. They should never have been allowed in, the NZ / Aust SCV should only be for NZ / Aust born.

      2019: 695,760 with an increasing ratio of non NZ born unskilled (and another 290,000 who are stacked up waiting for entry into Australia). 90% one way flow to enter NZ, get the passport stamp, then enter Australia as permanent stay.

      Over 1.4 million temporary visa holders who are in visa breach & over 270,000 non NZ born SCV who should never have been allowed in – need to be force exited.

      It is difficult to find support for the numbers around SCVs.

      According to this:[email protected]/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/d71d3673bd6eaa38ca2583a00012c31c!OpenDocument

      At the 2016 Census, there were 664,957 SCV holders in the country (634,250 residents and 30,705 tourists).

      The top 5 by country of birth were (keeping in mind you need to be an NZ citizen to get an SCV):

      1. New Zealand: 470 761
      2. Australia: 36 212
      3. Samoa: 19 600
      4. England: 16 715
      5. South Africa:8 908

      So, subtracting 1, 2, 4 and 5, that leaves 132,361 who have been born in a country that might be on the naughty list.

      (Readers can download the whole dataset at:[email protected]/DetailsPage/3419.02016?OpenDocument to decide for themselves what percentage of SCV holders they deem as being from bad countries.)

      It is a long way from ~132k to ~270k in two years. Especially when these two documents suggest a total outbound number of SCV holders in 2016-17 and 2017-18 to be 49,266.[email protected]/Lookup/3412.0Explanatory+Notes12017-18[email protected]/Lookup/3412.0Explanatory+Notes12017-18

      • NZ dept of stats is your guide.
        And let’s use 2019 numbers, not 2016.

        2019 : 696,000 NZ SCV in Australia.
        40% are non NZ born. Majority Indian & Chinese, south East Asian, middle eastern, African etc.
        Another 290,000 (last 5 years of NZ intake) queued up pending the NZ passport stamp.
        And what was that intake exactly?
        Worse – Third world unskilled Asian & Indian, Middle East, African, Chinese criminals on Tongan passports, absolute detruis that couldn’t get into Australia or got kicked out – so they are trafficked via the NZ ‘open borders’ ‘anyone can get in’ route.

        Nz is the inlet, we are their outlet.
        Winston Peters “Nz only sells 2 things – milk powder to the Chinese & passport stamps to enter Australia”

        The last decade.
        2008/9 : 331,000 NZ SCV in Australia
        Only 8% were non NZ born – islanders & poms.

        The genuine NZ born, 1980’s wave on – are either converting to Australia citizenship or going back to cash out their Australian super as ‘permanent departure’ and suck off NZ welfare & healthcare.

        While a tidal wave of third world unskilled migrants who also work & live illegally in NZ as ‘students or other visa rackets finally get the NZ passport stamp & come in from NZ into Australia as the new mix. 90% one way flow.
        Our fastest growing third world unskilled intake category.
        You also see it in the NZ SCV average earnings.
        Whereas the original NZ born mix a decade ago had high economic attainment & skills – higher than math Australians – the NZ SCV now with the migrant influx starting to dominate this category have fallen well down to very low average income.

        The answer?
        Restrict the Aust / NZ reciprocal SCV to only Aust & NZ born over 18. Deport the 270,000 Nz scv third world migrants that would otherwise fail the Australian temporary resident criteria. Stop the backlog of 290,0000 third world unskilled in NZ from entry.
        That will shut down the NZ transit lounge to Australia migrant trafficking trade overnight.

      • NZ Dept Stats
        HomeReportsMigration to Australia via New Zealand
        Migration to Australia via New Zealand
        22 June 2017, 8:45am

        NZ SCV into Australia.
        Extract –
        “This (the NZ) birthplace distribution has changed over the last two decades.
        In 1996, Pacific birthplaces accounted for 39 percent, Europe 28 percent, Asia 28 percent, and other 5 percent.
        The peak in arrivals in 1999–2001 was largely driven by inflows of those born in Asia, in particular northeast Asia (including China).

        Migrants moving to Australia reflect the overall make-up of the New Zealand population (mike note – nearing 30% non NZ Born) – where the overseas-born share of SCV has been steadily increasing since the 1980s.

        “In 2016, those born in Asia and the Pacific made up two-thirds of the overseas-born New Zealand citizens migrating to Australia.”

        TWO THIRDS of NZ SCV are now Non NZ born.

        And it’s a 90% one way flow.
        40% of the NZ SCV are already non NZ born.

        Australia registers a Third world migrant with a NZ passport stamp as a NZ born citizen which is why you are confused. NZ Stats expose the reality.

        Maybe you should spend some time in immigration and see what comes in as a ‘NZ SCV’.

        You don’t see or hear the dulcet tones & mangles vowels of genuine NZ born anymore.

        They are all chinese, south East Asian, Indian, etc who have sold the NZ transit stop & now with a NZ passport stamp to enter or re-enter Australia permanently.

        NZ is deciding what to let in Australia, and Australia is an outlet & dumping ground for their mistakes in third world unskilled who would have never even got in via the Australian front door.
        That’s why they go via NZ

        And that’s the problem with the NZ SCV loophole.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        You are misrepresenting the percentage of current migrants as the percentage of total SCVs.

        No confusion. Just data. Which does not support your assertions.

  2. Getting sick and tired of Labor, somehow, making the Liberals massively increase temporary visa numbers. Labor can’t keep getting away with this….they’ve been in opposition for 6 years and they are STILL making that you beauty legend Scotty Morrison fill the country with immigrants.

    • There are two types of people in the world, my friend:
      – those who imagine they have ‘choice’ via the system of democracy
      – those who understand that democracy is little more than an illusion and that whichever ‘party’ is in power will change nothing because the real power rests elsewhere.

    • I’m not sure what it takes for you to see.

      I was the first I know of to blame the treasonous Labor. Enough of Australia now know the obvious to have given the filthy LNP government in preference to Labor.

      Let me put it as simply as I can. LNP are doing exactly what LNP have always done. Favoured business and the rich. It’s Labor that’s changed that now makes it near impossible to stop LNP. Most Australians don’t want population growth, but if BOTH parties want it, we’re choosing LNP. There’s not a thing difficult to understand here.

      How you defend Labor for doing what they’re doing to Australia is astonishing.

      You’re connected to them aren’t you!

      • “Both as bad as each other, but Labor is worse because…..mumble mumble mumble”

        You are almost beyond satirising at this point.

      • Labor is worse because they’re the party Australia votes for to counter what and who LNP are.

        Labor is completely fake. LNP is not.

        I’m no LNP fan. I was a Labor fan but am smart enough to know a scam when I see one.

        You think like a five year old mate.

    • If Labor were opposed to population growth, Shorten would be PM.

      It’s that simple.

      • You can’t bring yourself to criticise your precious LNP solely, as the government in charge, and as the party that has been in power for the most out of the last 30 years. When you do it is ALWAYS followed by “bu..but Labor!”. This is how children see the world.

        Everything is Labor’s fault. It’s pathetic and delusional thinking. If you’ve voted LNP in the past, this is on you. Howard began this merry-go-round of pumping in migrants. Take responsibility for your actions like an adult.

      • “Howard began this merry-go-round of pumping in migrants”

        To suit business and the wealthy. No surprise there. It surprises you?

        Labor’s embraced it, so now if I vote Labor my money is transferred to people that haven’t worked for it. If I vote LNP I get to keep it.

        If we’re going to be forced to have population growth, and if you’ve got skills to sell, some wealth and some brains, you’re far better off voting LNP.

        If we’re not going to have population growth forced upon us, a vote for a fairer society feasible. Greens or Labor might be the best choice.

        Population growth = LNP

        No population growth = Labor/Greens

        I just can’t simplify the thought process Australia has finally taken more than that.

      • Yep. A population policy (not even a brutal one) and a good energy/industry policy and they would hold the keys. Instead they are as beholden to the large behemoths of construction, energy and super that they have built as the the LNP are to the FIRE and banking.

        It is no surprise that the LNP do this stuff and it is no surprise they will run with endless growth when given the chance. It is somewhat surprising that labor and the left rubber stamped it all.

      • So how does that square with historical immigration and how some benefited from it.

    • This issue has corrupted all sides of politics. Labor could play it smart and target certain visa classes ie temporary protection visas but let’s face it, they’re just too dumb to work this out.

    • Appreciate the point you are trying to make, but the fact remains that Labor would have been as bad if not worse on this policy of extreme migration population growth, and the reason people are grumpy at Labor is that this stuff hurts the working class and the lower middle class much much more than it hurts capital, asset owners, developers, construction management and FIRE.

      Labor has had 20 years to draw a line in the sand, and in particular just had an election where all this stuff could have been brought up in policy but wasn’t. So even if all the left dreams came true and labor swept to power, people would be worse off from crush-loading, house price carnage, wage suppression etc etc.

      The crime of omission is often as violent and nasty as the crime of action.

  3. Copying the best practices of our betters in the U.S. not that the investors [tm] cheer in the isles ….

  4. They are going to stop coming any minute now. And pack up and go home at the first whiff of economic trouble.


    • Well I might soon be that statistic….. Moved here in Dec 2018 and about ready to get the hell out of here back to the US. Australia is screwed. Not that same country when I lived here from 2001-2009. Just got to get the wife on board.

      • You will need to apply for an exit permit. The application fee is about $300,000 and the processing time is up to 20 years.

      • @dumpling
        Sounds like Illinois. All their wealthy taxpayers are leaving the state and legislators are not happy. Just a microcosm of the tax noose that is slowly (and in some cases rapidly) tightening around the citizenry everywhere.

        An exit tax exists (how dare you escape to a low-tax jurisdiction, ungrateful scumbag!). Stay here and fill our coffers — the beast needs MOAR!

      • blindjusticeMEMBER

        And the people who prefer a higher quality of life leave while we replace them with unfortunates from slums and shanty towns. The case in point is net migration from NSW. I don`t really fancy an Australia where this net migration is a nationwide thing.

      • Send us a post card about those going postal [never mind the schools] and the machinations of the local para military forces …. ooops … police “forces” …

        I would also recommend considering increasing climate related issues currently being experienced in considering residence.

    • I’d better stock up on shares in Qantas. It is going to take thousands and thousands of extra flights to shift all that human cargo out of the country.

      Oh, and Sell A2 – there will be nobody left to raid the local Colesworth to send tins of baby formula home.

      Farken dreaming.

  5. Listened to an associate of mine yesterday chatting to a migration agent saying he has an Asian friend staying with him who wants to stay permanently in this country and asked what are the options. This associate is under the impression that it is seriously difficult to get into this country and stay long term. Oh the irony ..

  6. Australians all let us rejoice
    For we are young and free
    We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
    Our home is girt by sea
    Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
    Of beauty rich and rare.

    For those who’ve come across the seas
    We’ve boundless plains to share.

  7. What is the Special Category visa? This is consistently the largest class, though Student is closing, and is currently 676 084.

    Edit: NZ

    • Nz scv
      Was 331,000 with 8% non Nz born a decade ago
      Now 669,000 with 40% or 270,000 non Nz born

      Nz let’s in the trash that can’t get into Australia or have been exited by Australia.
      They get a Nz passport stamp
      Then enter Australia
      90% one way flow
      Our fastest growing third world unskilled migrant intake

  8. Labor should have had us marching in the streets.

    Instead they said “Vote for us and we’ll let them bring in their parents too”

  9. These are very significant numbers and the lack of transparency on the numbers and the data does not help the process of democracy. There will always be a spread of opinion on where the optimum levels sit, but having the real data is crucial for an honest debate. We really need a site like this in Australia:

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        While there is significant underployment, no upward pressure on wages and cost of living is increasing despite productivity gains year on year, the number should be somewhere below 0.

        Labor, today’s Labor, do not seem to understand that. Reason/s why don’t matter. They just don’t.

      • fitzroyMEMBER

        TTW They are in ideological blinkers. It is remarkable that they care about children off shore more than their own.
        The resentment is growing, although many cannot see why they cannot afford a house, the cost of living is so high, their wage so small and they work so hard.

      • Spoiled kids is a class thingy …. sorta like anti vaccination …. or my fav … dirty people get the art unclean …