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Country profile - Pakistan

​​​Prolonged political unrest has impacted significantly on Pakistan's ability to maintain strong economic growth. As the country has shifted away from agriculture, the services sector has gained increased importance, with textile production and apparel manufacturing increasing as well. However, the Pakistan economy has been exposed to global demand shocks associated with the global financial crisis, resulting in slow growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.5 per cent between 2008 and 2014.

By international standards, income levels in Pakistan are also low – with average incomes just one-tenth of those in Australia.  The rate of population growth in Pakistan is among the highest in the world – with increases particularly high in urban areas. Associated with this increased urbanisation is a growing services sector, providing a strong motivation for Pakistan nationals to seek educational and economic opportunities overseas.


At the end of June 2014, 49,770 Pakistan-born people were living in Australia, 172 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This makes the Pakistani-born population the 31st largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to 0.8 per cent of Australia's overseas born population and 0.2 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's Pakistan-born migrants:

  • The median age of 30.6 years was 6.8 years below that of the general population.
  • Males significantly outnumbered females—60 per cent compared with 40 per cent.

Permanent migra​tion

Australia's permanent Migration Programme incorporates economic and family reunion migration and is the main pathway to permanent residence. The only other way for migrants to obtain permanent residence is to be accepted into Australia on humanitarian grounds. The Migration Programme is based on non-discriminatory principles relating to nationality, gender and religion. People who meet the criteria set out in the Migration Act 1958 can apply to migrate.

Permanent migration refers to the number of outcomes in any given year, without taking into account whether the visa recipient actually arrived and settled in Australia. Skilled migration focuses on facilitating the permanent entry of those who can make a positive contribution to Australia through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurial spirit and employment potential. Family migration facilitates the entry of close family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The programme is currently dominated by partners and dependent children, but also provides options for other family members, such as Carers, Parents and Aged Dependent Relatives.

The following table shows the size and composition of the skilled and family migration categories from 2011–12 to 2014–15.

Migration category2011–122012–132013–142014–15Per cent change on previous yearPer cent change for the period
Skilled migration (points tested)
Skilled Regional366344321214-33.3-41.5
Skilled Independent1,6136721,9664,530130.4180.8
State/Territory Nominated8341,0451,9761,751-11.4110.0
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment1574013642-69.1-73.2
Distinguished Talent7 < 596-33.3-14.3
Employer Sponsored3484544214312.423.9
Total: Skilled visa grants1574013642-69.1-73.2
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)7 < 596-33.3-14.3
Family migration
Other Family19 < 5 < 519533.30.0
Total: Family visa grants9659811,4461,302-10.034.9
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)22.527.623.015.7n/an/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility51405n/a0.0
Total: Permanent migrants 4,295 3,552 6,275 8,281 32.0 92.8

Temporary migra​​tion

Depending on the purpose and duration of their visit, people can come to Australia on a Visitor visa, or through an other appropriate temporary visa. Temporary visas are designed for specific purposes, for example, study, working holidays or other specialist activities. Temporary residents are required to pay taxes on income earned in Australia and do not normally have access to public welfare and might not have access to public health programmes.

The Student visa programme consists of a range of visa categories that broadly correspond to education sectors. Students must study with an education provider and in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. The subclass 457 visa programme allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign workers for employment in management, professional, technical and skilled trades' positions. The programme is demand-driven and highly responsive to Australian labour market conditions. Visitor visas are mostly used by people visiting Australia for holidays, recreation, or to see family and friends. People may also use Visitor visas for certain short-term business activities.

The following table shows the size and composition of the Student visa programme, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and Visitors from Pakistan.

Temporary visa category2011–122012–132013–142014–15Per cent change on previous yearPer cent change for the period
International Students​​​​
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students< 57< 5525.0> 200.0
Schools< 517105-50.025.0
Vocational Education and Training2,8261,7491,271953-25.0-66.3
Higher Education2,6424,3524,7574,9143.386.0
Postgraduate Research27324029934515.426.4
Foreign Affairs or Defence305328349309-11.51.3
Total: International Student visa grants 6,066 6,707 6,702 6,545 -2.3 7.9
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)8961,0339891,0566.817.9
Business visitor1,9991,8141,5841,431-9.7-28.4​
Medical Treatment1329278-70.4-38.5
Total: Visitor visa grants 7,268 7,139 8,415 8,153 -3.1 12.2

Main occupa​​tions

There are a wide variety of occupations that potential migrants can nominate for, which are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia. The following table shows the main occupations for Pakistani nationals for Points Tested Skilled Migration outcomes and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) grants.

PeriodTemporary Work
(Skilled) visa
(subclass 457)
No. of migrantsPoints Tested Skilled Migration No. of migrants
​ 2014–2015
 General practitioners and resident medical officers55Accountants497
 Cooks38Software and applications programmers342
 Software and applications programmers27ICT business and systems analysts211
Cafe and restaurant managers23Telecommunications engineering professionals196
 Motor mechanics21Computer network professionals188
 Accountants18Industrial, mechanical and production engineers135
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers17Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers131
 ICT business and systems analysts12Electronics engineers85
 University lecturers and tutors9Civil engineering professionals82
 ICT support technicians9Generalist medical practitioners72
 General practitioners and resident medical officers56Software and applications programmers319
Call or contact centre and customer service managers28Telecommunications engineering professionals142
 Accountants24ICT business and systems analysts131
 Cafe and restaurant managers19Industrial, mechanical and production engineers80
 Software and applications programmers13Civil engineering professionals73
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers12Cooks65
 Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists12Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists61
 Bakers and pastrycooks12Electronics engineers59
 Advertising and marketing professionals11Computer network professionals51
​ 2012–13
 General practitioners and resident medical officers81Accountants178
Contract, program and project administrators31Software and applications programmers157
 Cooks26ICT business and systems analysts66
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers22Electronics engineers59
 Advertising and marketing professionals15Telecommunications engineering professionals54
 Accountants14Civil engineering professionals45
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers11Cooks45
 Software and applications programmers11Industrial, mechanical and production engineers44
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians11Electrical engineers29
 Motor mechanics10Generalist medical practitioners25
​ 2011–12
General practitioners and resident medical officers108Accountants326
 Management and organisation analysts27Software and applications programmers324
 Contract, program and project administrators24Electronics engineers90
 Cooks13Civil engineering professionals65
 Advertising and marketing professionals12Industrial, mechanical and production engineers59
 ICT business and systems analysts12Cooks47
 University lecturers and tutors9Telecommunications engineering professionals39
 Telecommunications engineering professionals8Electrical engineers36
 Bakers and pastrycooks8ICT business and systems analysts33
 Accountants7Motor mechanics24

Geographic distri​bution

The following table shows the geographic distribution of migrants, based on permanent additions, international students, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and permanent departures.

Permanent additions are the sum of those granted a permanent residency visa while in Australia, and those granted a visa through an Australian mission abroad, who have entered Australia during the respective reporting period.

Population (%)NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT
Proportion of all persons counted in the Census - 2011322520710212
Proportion of Pakistan-born counted in the Census - 20114430858014
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Skill stream (primary)43295811003
Skill stream (dependent)41296911003
Family stream36348810012
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students3742728114
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)352512917101
Permanent departures (%) 
All Pakistan-born permanent residents392312314108

Country ranking

This table uses rankings to show the significance of Pakistani migration for the past four financial years.

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014–15
Population in Australia36343231
Points Tested Skilled Migration7943
Employer Sponsored19181919
Total Skill stream101165
Total Family stream111189
International students12131314
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)20201716