Loading
pop-up content starts
pop-up content ends

Country profiles

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

​​​​Country profile – South Africa

Population

At the end of June 2019, 193,860 South African-born people were living in Australia, 28.6 per cent more than the number (150,690) at 30 June 2009. This makes the South African-born population the seventh largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to 2.6 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 0.8 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's South African-born migrants:

  • Their median age of 43.8 years was 6.4 years above that of the general population.
  • Females outnumbered males—50.3 per cent compared with 49.7 per cent.1

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 South Africa by migration category.

Table 1: Permanent migrant places granted, 2016–17 to 2019–20
Migration category2016–172017–182018–192019–20
Business Innovation and Investment77417665
Employer Sponsored
1,3461,3461,5181,145
​Skilled Regional 1
​40
​36
​11
​n/a
​Skilled Independent
​1,828
​1,312
​852
​236
​State/Territory Nominated
757
​903
​925
​​758
​Regional 2
​n/a
​n/a
​n/a
​945
​Global Talent (Independent) 3​
​n/a
​n/a
​n/a
​111
Partner
339370271327
​All other categories
​202
​227
​208
​​156
Total places granted 4,589 4,235 3,861 3,743

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.

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).

Not all categories apply to migrants from South Africa. The following table shows the number of visa grants to migrants from South Africa, for the Student visa program, Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa and Visitor visas.

Table 2: Temporary visas granted by selected categories, 2016–17 to 2019–20
Temporary visa category2016–172017–182018–192019–20
International Students
ELICOS 1000< 10
Schools11
181415
Vocational Education and Training177184195
187
Higher Education187198272226
Postgraduate Research20292417
Non-Award10252916
Foreign Affairs or Defence201011< 10
Total: International Student visa grants 425 464 545 470
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment)
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa grants22,2911,8502,8782,707
Visitors
Tourist27,42929,23130,30622,540
Business visitor4,1424,5915,1873,512
Total: Visitor visa grants 31,571 33,822 35,493 26,052
​Other temporary​​
Other temporary visa grants 31,8662,8152,0181,735
Total temporary visa grants 36,153 38,951 40,934 30,964

Source: Department of Home Affairs

1 English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

2 Data excludes Temporary Work (Skilled) (Independent Executive) visa.

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

Note: To protect the privacy of individuals, various data confidentiality techniques have been applied. These techniques include:

  • ​​data masking — using primary and secondary suppression methods for values that are deemed to be a disclosure risk

  • perturbation — a data security technique that allows for random data adjustment to prevent the release of identifiable data.

Main occupations

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

Table 3: Main occupations, 2016–17 to 2019–20
PeriodTemporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visas 1
No. of migrantsSkill stream migrationNo. of migrants
2019–20
Motor mechanics
59
Accountants
60
Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers
55
Software and applications programmers
46
ICT business and systems analysts
55
Civil engineering professionals
34

Civil engineering professionals
36
ICT business and systems analysts
34
Management and organisation analysts
35
Motor mechanics
29
Metal fitters and machinists
28
Metal fitters and machinists
28
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
24Electricians
27
Crop farmers
21
Early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers
26
Accountants
21
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
23
Software and applications programmers
21
Management and organisation analysts
23
2018–19
ICT business and systems analysts54Civil engineering professionals57
Motor mechanics51Software and applications programmers56
Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers49Accountants54
Accountants41Secondary school teachers47
Software and applications programmers41Industrial, mechanical and production engineers38
Management and organisation analysts37Early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers34
Civil engineering professionals34ICT business and systems analysts32
Construction managers29Motor mechanics26
Advertising, public relations and sales managers26Management and organisation analysts25
Metal fitters and machinists26Advertising, public relations and sales managers22
2017–18
Accountants44Accountants95
Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers44Software and applications programmers58
ICT business and systems analysts30Secondary school teachers57
Civil engineering professionals28Early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers47
Motor mechanics26Electricians37
General managers22ICT business and systems analysts36
Advertising, public relations and sales managers22Motor mechanics33
Management and organisation analysts22Civil engineering professionals32
Software and applications programmers20Advertising and marketing professionals30
General practitioners and resident medical officers19Advertising, public relations and sales managers26
2016–17
Accountants57Accountants147
Management and organisation analysts41Software and applications programmers76
Advertising, public relations and sales managers39Secondary school teachers62
Software and applications programmers38Industrial, mechanical and production engineers54
Civil engineering professionals26ICT business and systems analysts47
ICT business and systems analysts26Early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers46
General practitioners and resident medical officers25Motor mechanics35
Technical sales representatives22Civil engineering professionals34
Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers20Electricians34
Human resource professionals20Metal fitters and machinists29​

Source: Department of Home Affairs

1 Data excludes Temporary Work (Skilled) (Independent Executive) visa.

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
PopulationNSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT
Census 2016 (%)
Of all persons322520711212
Of South African-born271725425111
Permanent additions - 2019–20 (%)
Skill stream33
14
2312
142
21
Family and Child stream30
14
29
5
20
1
0
1
Temporary visa grants - 2019–20 (%)
International student visa grants20
1934
4
210
0
1
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa (primary) grants 1 32
19
23
419
121

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Home Affairs

1 Data excludes Temporary Work (Skilled) (Independent Executive) visa.

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 South African migration for the past four financial years.

Table 5: Country ranking, 2016–17 to 2019–20
Ranked position of migrants2016–17
2017–18
2018–19
2019–​20
Population in Australia 1887
7
Regional
n/a
n/a
n/a
7
Employer Sponsored8
6
65
Total Skill stream6
7
77
Total Family and Child stream27
18
25
24
International students57
54
50
49
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa 2 8
7
74
Visitors2324
23
23

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; 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

2 Data excludes Temporary Work (Skilled) (Independent Executive) visa.​