Australia has a new Federal Government, and with it new leadership in the migration portfolio. Before reflecting on this, we answer these two questions:

1.  How many migrants has Australian had annually?

2.  What visa categories have they been accepted in?

In spite of former Prime Minister Howard’s ambiguous views on some aspects of the Australian migration programme, Australia has accepted increased numbers of migrants in recent years. This has been caused by an increase in the numbers under the skilled migration program (with a drop in family reunion migration).

Migration quotas

Australia has quotas or limits on most visa types. However both spouse visas and child visas do not have quotas to them. This means that as long as the applicant satisfies the criteria for the visa, the visa must be granted.

Migration numbers – people coming in

In terms of numbers, there were more than 39,000 spouse, fiancé and interdependent (generally for gay or lesbian applicants) visa grants for the year ending in June 2007.

The parent visa category suffers because of the current low quota. Parents are commonly forced to apply in the Contributory Parent Category to obtain a visa within a reasonable period of time (applying for an “ordinary” Parent visa can take 8-10 years before grant, due to the restrictions caused by the low quota on this particular visa).

All up, just over 161,000 applicants were granted permanent residency (in both the general migration and refugee categories) in the last program year.

Emigration numbers – people going out

However nearly as many people as this number actually left Australia, either permanently or temporarily. Those doomsdayers who consider the migration programme to be bringing in too many, are usually not aware of this figure (so, we’re not being swamped by anyone, and never were).

New leadership in the migration portfolio

With the ongoing skills shortage there is no evidence that the pattern of the numbers in recent years will change under the new leadership:

The Governor General has today sworn in a new Minister for Immigration. Western Australian Senator the Honourable Chris Evans has been appointed as the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.

Sydney MP, the Honourable Laurie Ferguson, has been appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement.

Let’s hope this new administration, with a new Minister, brings a more human and indeed competent touch to the Immigration portfolio.


Paul Hense BA, LLB, BSW (University of Sydney), Principal, Paul Hense Migration Lawyers

Tel +61 402 448 449  |  Email:

If you wish to proceed to personalised assistance from Mr Hense of any inquiry, it will be done on a strict fee for service basis.

Mr Hense has been a migration lawyer since 1994. He has run a number of landmark cases, including before the High Court of Australia. He frequently represents clients before the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal. He has lectured for the University of NSW on refugee law and for the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre.  From 1990 and until recently he was a volunteer with the Immigration Advice and Rights Service. Previously he was a Senior Research Officer for the Australian Taxation Office.

Noric Dilanchian