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Country profiles

Profiles permanent and temporary migration trends and population for Australia's main migrant source countries.

Country profile - People's Republic of ​China

Population

At the end of June 2020, 650,640 Chinese-born people were living in Australia, almost twice the number (371,550) at 30 June 2010. This makes the Chinese-born population the third largest migrant community in Australia after the United Kingdom and India, equivalent to 8.5 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 2.5 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's Chinese-born migrants:

  • The median age of 37.6 years was 0.1 years below that of the general population.
  • Females outnumbered males—55.6 per cent compared with 44.4 per cent.1

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Migration Australia

Permanent migration

Australia's permanent Migration Program incorporates economic and family migration and is the main pathway to permanent residence. It includes the Skill stream, Family stream and Special Eligibility visas. The only other way to obtain permanent residence is on humanitarian grounds.

Skill stream visas

The Skill stream is designed for workers who have the skills, qualifications and entrepreneurship most needed in the Australian economy. There are seven components:

  1. Business Innovation and Investment

  2. Distinguished Talent

  3. Employer Sponsored

  4. Global Talent (Independent)

  5. Regional

  6. Skilled Independent

  7. State/Territory Nominated.​

Family and Child stream visas

The Family stream allows the permanent migration of close family members, of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible New Zealand citizens. It focuses on partners and parents, but also provides the opportunity for additional family members, such as aged dependent relatives, carers, remaining relatives and orphan relatives, to join their family in Australia.

Child visas allow the permanent migration of children, of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible New Zealand citizens. The Child visa comprises two categories, namely Child and Adoption visas.

Special Eligibility visas

Special Eligibility visas allow former residents and certain people who served in the Australian Defence Force to live in Australia as permanent residents.

The following table shows the size of permanent migration from People’s Republic of China (China) by migration category.

Table 1: Permanent migrant places granted, 2017–18 to 2020–21

Migration category

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Business Innovation and Investment

5,087

5,209

2,872

5,157

Employer Sponsored

2,713

2,945

2,524

1,369

Skilled Regional 1

69

24

n/a

n/a

Skilled Independent

5,067

4,160

1,367

941

State/Territory Nominated

2,923

2,611

3,616

2,207

Regional 2

n/a

n/a

1,925

764

Global Talent (Independent) 3

n/a

n/a

271

969

Partner

4,249

4,850

3,553

7,765

All other categories

5,037

4,483

2,459

3,035

Total places granted

25,145

24,282

18,587

22,207

Source: Department of Home Affairs

1 The Skilled Regional category closed to new applications from 1 July 2019.

2 The Regional migration category commenced 1 July 2019.

3 ​Global Talent (Independent) category commenced 4 November 2019.

Temporary migration

People can come to Australia for a temporary stay for a range of purposes, for example, visiting Australia for tourism or attending a conference, or for more specific purposes, such as medical treatment, study, skilled work, working holidays or other specialist activities. There are six main categories of temporary residents, which can cover stays of more than three months in Australia.

Note: Not all categories apply to migrants from each country.​​​

Visitor visas

Visitor visas are mostly used by people visiting Australia for holidays, tourism and recreation, or to see family and friends. People may also use Visitor visas for certain short-term business activities that do not entail working in Australia.

Working Holiday Maker Program

The Working Holiday Maker Program allows young adults to have an extended holiday and engage in short-term work and study.

Student visa

The Student visa program enables international students to come to Australia to study full-time in a registered course.

Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa

Allows a business to sponsor a skilled overseas worker if they cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill a skilled position.

Other temporary visas

Other temporary visas include visas that allow people to undertake short-term, non-ongoing highly specialised work, enrich social and cultural development, strengthen international relations or provide training opportunities of benefit to Australia.

New Zealand citizens

Under the 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, New Zealand citizens can enter and leave Australia freely and live in Australia indefinitely on grant of a Special Category visa (subclass 444).

The following table shows the number of visa grants to migrants from China, for Visitor, Student, Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) and Working Holiday Maker visas.

Table 2: Temporary visas granted by selected categories, 2017–18 to 2020–21

Temporary visa category

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Visitor

954,264

938,136

544,817

38,844

Student

87,731

84,819

67,841

55,157

Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment)

3,463

3,911

2,138

1,435

Working Holiday Maker

6,156

7,021

5,057

1,661

Other temporary visa grants 1

22,986

24,009

17,656

9,170

Total temporary visa grants

1,074,600

1,057,896

637,509

106,267

Source: Department of Home Affairs

Excludes Transit visa (subclass 771), Border visa (subclass 773) and Maritime Crew visa (subclass 988).

Main occupations

The following table shows the main occupations for nationals of China, based on Skill stream migration outcomes and Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa grants.

Table 3: Main occupations, 2017–18 to 2020–21

Period

 Temporary Resident
 (Skilled Employment) visas

No. of migrants

Skill stream migration

No. of migrants

2020–21

 

Software and applications programmers

93

Accountants

497

 

Accountants

92

Software and applications programmers

433

 

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

36

Civil engineering professionals

271

 

Electrical engineers

35

Registered nurses

204

 

University lecturers and tutors

28

Other engineering professionals

180

 

General managers

26

ICT business and systems analysts

137

 

Finance managers

24

Social workers

93

 

Advertising and marketing professionals

21

Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers

84

 

Engineering managers

20

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

82

 

Chief executives and managing directors

17

Electrical engineers

65

2019–20

 

University lecturers and tutors

83

Accountants

1,238

 

Software and applications programmers

61

Registered nurses

518

 

Accountants

58

Software and applications programmers

327

 

Advertising and marketing professionals

35

Civil engineering professionals

278

 

Advertising, public relations and sales managers

33

Other engineering professionals

260

 

General managers

32

Social professionals

144

 

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

25

Advertising and marketing professionals

141

 

Management and organisation analysts

24

ICT business and systems analysts

116

 

Cooks

24

Cafe and restaurant managers

108

 

Electrical engineers

23

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

107

2018–19

 

University lecturers and tutors

185

Accountants

1,399

 

Accountants

150

Software and applications programmers

482

 

Software and applications programmers

106

Civil engineering professionals

369

 

General managers

85

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

194

 

Advertising and marketing professionals

70

Other engineering professionals

194

 

Finance managers

49

Registered nurses

194

 

Advertising, public relations and sales managers

44

Electrical engineers

143

 

Cafe and restaurant managers

38

Advertising and marketing professionals

141

 

Chefs

38

University lecturers and tutors

137

 

Electrical engineers

34

Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers

120

2017–18

 

University lecturers and tutors

229

Accountants

1,826

 

Skilled meat worker

142

Software and applications programmers

420

 

Accountants

134

Civil engineering professionals

366

 

Cooks

83

Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers

277

 

Software and applications programmers

82

Registered nurses

241

 

Cafe and restaurant managers

61

Other engineering professionals

225

 

Advertising and marketing professionals

56

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

190

 

General managers

49

Electrical engineers

140

 

Chefs

42

Architects and landscape architects

133

 

Advertising, public relations and sales managers

39

Chemical and materials engineers

126

Source: Department of Home Affairs

Note: Occupation level information is available for primary applicants only, and is based on Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations unit level data.

Geographic distribution

The following table shows the geographic distribution of migrants, based on permanent additions for the Skill and Family streams, international student visa grants, and Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa grants.

Table 4: Geographic distribution

Population

NSW

Vic.

Qld

SA

WA

Tas.

NT

ACT

Census 2016 (%)

Of all persons

32

25

20

7

11

2

1

2

Of Chinese-born

46

32

9

5

5

1

0

2

Permanent additions - 2020–21 (%)

Skill stream

32

26

10

10

6

9

1

6

Family and Child stream

43

31

13

5

5

1

0

2

Temporary visa grants - 2020–21 (%)

International student visa grants

39

30

14

6

4

2

0

5

Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa (primary) grants

45

28

10

1

13

1

0

1

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Home Affairs

​Note: Permanent additions consist of two components; those persons who, while already in Australia on a temporary basis, are granted permanent residence status or those persons who have subsequently arrived from overseas during the reporting period and are entitled to stay permanently in Australia.

Country ranking

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

Table 5: Country ranking, 2017–18 to 2020–21

Ranked position of migrants

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Population in Australia 1

2

2

2

3

Regional

n/a

n/a

2

4

Employer Sponsored

4

4

4

4

Total Skill stream

2

2

2

2

Total Family and Child stream

1

1

1

1

International students

1

1

1

1

Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa

4

4

7

8

Visitors

1

1

1

1

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Home Affairs​

1 Population level data is by country of birth and lags one year behind the financial year specified. Data based on the estimated residential population at 30 June; 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.​​​

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