About Us

Country profile - United Kingdom

​​​​Australia has a substantial relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) that is underpinned by a shared heritage, common values, closely aligned strategic outlook and interests. Australia and the UK are frequent and regular dialogue partners at the highest levels across government and are like-minded on pressing global issues, including international security and multilateral cooperation. There are also long-standing trade and investment relations and benefits from extensive people-to-people links.

In 2014 Australia and the UK had similar per capita gross domestic product (GDP) on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. UK's GDP grew from 1.7 per cent in 2013 to 2.6 per cent in 2014, accelerating unexpectedly because of greater consumer spending and a recovering housing market.

Employment opportunities in Australia are viewed favourably by UK emigrants. UK emigrants are also likely to be attracted to Australia by the lifestyle, climate, family networks and similarities in culture. Australia is the number one destination for UK emigrants with UK-born people comprising Australia's largest migrant community. The UK is also Australia's second-largest source of visitors.


At the end of June 2014, 1.22 million UK-born people were living in Australia, 7.4 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This makes it the largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to 18.5 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 5.2 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's UK-born migrants:

  • Their median age of 54.4 years was 17.1 years above that of the general population.
  • Males outnumbered females—51 per cent compared with 49 per cent.

Permanent migration

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 Regional1,46531018986-54.5-94.1
Skilled Independent2,7493,4404,1393,721-10.135.4
State/Territory Nominated5,6082,9182,3191,937-16.5-65.5
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment2561135043-14.0-83.2
Distinguished Talent273936385.640.7
Employer Sponsored9,3589,19611,18010,429-6.711.4
Total: Skilled visa grants 19,463 16,016 17,913 16,254 -9.3 -16.5
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)77.073.877.177.1n/an/a
Family migration
Other Family98943 < 5-97.7-88.9
Total: Family visa grants 5,746 5,642 5,267 4,786 -9.1 -16.7
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)22.726.022.722.7n/an/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility65534038-5.0-41.5
Total: Permanent migrants 25,274 21,711 23,220 21,078 -9.2 -16.6

Temporary mig​​ration

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 might 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 the United Kingdom.

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 Students5< 5< 59125.080.0
Vocational Education and Training1,2821,4151,5541,73311.535.2
Higher Education710687658642-2.4-9.6
Postgraduate Research1611491321384.5-14.3
Foreign Affairs or Defence5< 5< 5< 550.0-40.0
Total: International Student visa grants 2,916 3,197 3,364 3,822 13.6 31.1
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)28,73324,14716,70814,729-11.8-48.7
Business visitor41,88240,96038,05037,947-0.3-9.4
Medical Treatment111117849614.3-13.5
Total: Visitor visa grants 527,058 545,594 548,663 557,918 1.7 5.9
Working Holiday Maker Programme
Total: Working Holiday visa grants 41,712 46,131 45,208 44,730 -1.1 7.2

Main oc​​​​cupations

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 UK 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
​ 2014–15
 General practitioners and resident medical officers782Registered nurses313
 Advertising and marketing professionals541Accountants174
 Human resource professionals483Generalist medical practitioners147
Management and organisation analysts292Secondary school teachers138
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers284Electricians130
 Registered nurses214Other medical practitioners126
 University lecturers and tutors174Carpenters and joiners110
 Cafe and restaurant managers170Software and applications programmers85​
 Carpenters and joiners1​68Other engineering professionals7​3
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers1​61Dental practitioners65
 General practitioners and resident medical officers8​02Registered nurses329
 Advertising and marketing professionals525Accountants213
Human resource professionals353Generalist medical practitioners178
 Registered nurses336Secondary school teachers160
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers303Electricians123
 Management and organisation analysts2​72Civil engineering professionals109
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians2​63Carpenters and joiners99
 Accountants202Other medical practitioners95
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers200Software and applications programmers94
 University lecturers and tutors191Dental practitioners58
 General practitioners and resident medical officers925Accountants243
Registered nurses7​52Registered nurses192
 Advertising and marketing professionals615Secondary school teachers172
 Human resource professionals545Generalist medical practitioners124
 Contract, program and project administrators531Software and applications programmers117
 Other specialist managers521Electricians116
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians317Carpenters and joiners94
 Motor mechanics317Other medical practitioners88
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers31​6Civil engineering professionals87
 Management and organisation analysts3​05ICT business and systems analysts85
​​ 2011–12
General practitioners and resident medical officers878​Carpenters and joiners250​
 Registered nurses772​​Accountants234
 Other specialist managers751Registered nurses226
 Human resource professionals723​Electricians223
 Civil engineering professionals619Software and applications programmers161
 Advertising and marketing professionals599Plumbers136
 Contract, program and project administrators579Secondary school teachers134
 Geologists, geophysicists and hydrogeologists415Bricklayers and stonemasons125
 Management and organisation analysts387Metal fitters and machinists116
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers365​Hairdressers112​​

Geographic distribution

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 UK-born counted in the Census - 20112519191121211
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
​Skill stream (primary)241517833021
Skill stream (dependent)171519936022
Family stream312120519111
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students292620517002
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)382012224021
Permanent departures (%)
All UK-born permanent residents321721522111

Country ranking​

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

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014​–15
Population in Australia1111
Points Tested Skilled Migration2334
Employer Sponsored1111
Total Skill stream2323
Total Family stream2333
International students21212120
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)1222