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Country profiles

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

Country profile – United Kingdom


At the end of June 2018, almost 1.2 million people who were born in the United Kingdom were living in Australia, 1.7 per cent more than at 30 June 2008. This makes it the largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to 16.2 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 4.8 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's United Kingdom-born migrants:

  • Their median age of 56.7 years was 19.4 years above that of the general population.
  • Males outnumbered females—50.8 per cent compared with 49.2 per cent.1

1 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Migration Australia (catalogue no. 3412.0)

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 with the skills, qualifications and entrepreneurship most needed in the Australian economy. The Skill stream comprises four components; namely: Points Tested Skilled Migration; Employer Sponsored; Business Innovation and Investment; and Distinguished Talent.

Family and Child stream

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 and composition of Skill stream, Family stream, Special Eligibility and Child visas from the United Kingdom.

Table 1: Permanent migrant places granted, 2015—16 to 2018—19
Migration category2015—162016—172017—182018—19Per cent change on 2017—18Per cent change since 2015—16
Skilled migration (points tested)
Skilled Regional75696122-63.9-70.7
Skilled Independent3,9473,0742,3201,811-21.9-54.1
State/Territory Nominated1,6111,1761,1921,39016.6-13.7
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment73504830-37.5-58.9
Distinguished Talent44384225-40.5-43.2
Employer Sponsored8,4207,9556,3357,25614.5-13.8
Total: Skilled visa places granted 14,170 12,362 9,998 10,534 5.4 -25.7
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)74.872.673.277.0n/an/a
Family and Child migration
Other Family30616160.0-46.7
Total: Family and Child visa places granted 4,745 4,613 3,622 3,142 -13.3 -33.8
Family and Child visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility35633413-61.8-62.9
Total places granted 18,950 17,038 13,654 13,689 0.3 -27.8

Source: Department of Home Affairs

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

Table 2: Temporary visas granted by selected categories, 2015—16 to 2018—19
Temporary visa category2015—162016—172017—182018—19Per cent change on 2017—18 Per cent change since 2015—16
International Students
ELICOS 1< 5 9< 5566.766.7
Schools34 29 2127 28.6 -20.6
Vocational Education and Training1,973 1,941 2,117 2,415 14.1 22.4
Higher Education638 566 542 538 -0.7 -15.7
Postgraduate Research102 133 149 132 -11.4 29.4
Non-Award1,338 1,293 1,292 1,120 -13.3 -16.3
Foreign Affairs or Defence0 < 5 < 5 < 5 0.0 n/a
Total: International Student visa grants 4,088 3,974 4,126 4,239 2.7 3.7
​Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment)
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa grants 212,821 13,600 9,791 11,398 16.4 -11.1
Tourist550,748 585,532 592,254 553,013 -6.6 0.4
Business visitor35,426 37,337 38,507 38,158 -0.9 7.7
Total: Visitor visa grants 586,174 622,869 630,761 591,171 -6.3 0.9
Working Holiday visa
Initial34,097 32,571 30,036 27,355 -8.9 -19.8
Extension8,078 7,811 7,716 8,593 11.4 6.4
Total Working Holiday visa grants 42,175 40,382 37,752 35,948 -4.8 -14.8
Other temporary
Other temporary visa grants 39,858 10,241 15,214 11,694 -23.1 18.6
Total temporary visa grants 655,116 691,066 697,644 654,450 -6.2 -0.1

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).

Main occupations

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

Table 3: Main occupations, 2015—16 to 2018—19
PeriodTemporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa 1No. of migrantsSkill stream migrationNo. of migrants
General practitioners and resident medical officers619Advertising and marketing professionals431
Advertising and marketing professionals446Human resource professionals380
Management and organisation analysts271Registered nurses251
Human resource professionals267Other medical practitioners212
Advertising, public relations and sales managers207General practitioners and resident medical officers188
Carpenters and joiners199Carpenters and joiners147
Registered nurses161Management and organisation analysts146
Civil engineering professionals152Cafe and restaurant managers125
General managers147Advertising, public relations and sales managers119
Accountants142Motor mechanics117
General practitioners and resident medical officers804Human resource professionals279
Human resource professionals391Registered nurses264
Advertising and marketing professionals336Advertising and marketing professionals233
Management and organisation analysts186Other medical practitioners169
Registered nurses181General practitioners and resident medical officers142
University lecturers and tutors137Management and organisation analysts116
Accountants130Secondary school teachers114
Advertising, public relations and sales managers127Electricians113
Civil engineering professionals122Advertising, public relations and sales managers106
Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians117Motor mechanics106
General practitioners and resident medical officers957Advertising and marketing professionals42
Human resource professionals601Management and organisation analysts36
Advertising and marketing professionals516Registered nurses31
Management and organisation analysts258Advertising, public relations and sales managers25
Advertising, public relations and sales managers221Accountants17
Registered nurses195Other specialist managers15
Carpenters and joiners184Secondary school teachers15
University lecturers and tutors170ICT sales professionals14
Accountants165Industrial, mechanical and production engineers14
Cafe and restaurant managers146Other medical practitioners14
General practitioners and resident medical officers892Registered nurses564
Advertising and marketing professionals524Human resource professionals266
Human resource professionals506Advertising and marketing professionals227
Advertising, public relations and sales managers288Motor mechanics205
Management and organisation analysts227Electricians202
Registered nurses174Accountants186
Carpenters and joiners169Contract, program and project administrators186
University lecturers and tutors161Secondary school teachers176
Cafe and restaurant managers159Other medical practitioners175
Accountants148Carpenters and joiners173

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
Population NSW Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. NT ACT
Census 2016 (%)
Of all persons322520711212
Of United Kingdom-born2519201121211
Permanent additions - 2018–19 (%)
Skill stream411918514021
Family and Child stream272323518211
Temporary visa grants - 2018–19 (%)
International student visa grants44221948102
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa (primary) grants 1 512311310011

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 migration from the United Kingdom for the past four financial years.

Table 5: Country ranking, 2015—16 to 2018—19
Ranked position of migrants 2015—16 2016—17 2017—18 2018—19
Population in Australia 1 1111
Points Tested Skilled Migration3454
Employer Sponsored2211
Total Skill stream3333
Total Family and Child stream3344
International students19222121
Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment) visa 2 2222

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; 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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