About Us

Country profile - Iraq

Iraq is one of the upper middle income countries based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis for 2014. Economic development has progressed in some provinces driven largely by oil reserves which account for 90 per cent of official government revenue. However the standard of living for many has remained low, with over one-quarter of the Iraqi population living below the poverty line.

Since 2003, Iraq’s efforts to rebuild infrastructure and achieve sustainable economic growth have been checked by political and security conditions; weak economic institutions; endemic corruption; an underdeveloped private sector; and poor infrastructure. In addition, Iraq’s budget has been under pressure from rising security expenditure and a humanitarian crisis.

The insecurity in the region have continued to drive tens of thousands of Iraqis from their homes to seek welfare elsewhere in the country, region or beyond. Terrorist activity has also resulted in an increase in internal displacement of people and substantial emigration to neighbouring countries from the areas most affected. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated an Iraqi diaspora of some 2.7 million Iraqis who have become internally displaced across Iraq since January 2014.

Iraq’s economy is dominated by oil and gas, which account which provides more than 90 per cent of government revenue and 80 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. Attacks against oil sector infrastructure, continued to constrain oil exports in 2014, however, and the advance of ISIL in 2014 has exacerbated these challenges. Officially unemployment is 23 per cent although the true figure is likely to be much higher. Underemployment is common.

Population

As at the end of June 2014, 63,860 Iraq-born people were living in Australia, 38 per cent more than as at 30 June 2006. This is equivalent to 1.0 per cent of Australia’s overseas-born population and 0.3 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Iraq-born migrants:

  • The median age of 37.5 years was within 0.2 years of the general Australian population.
  • Males slightly outnumbered females—52 per cent compared with 48 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.

Australia’s Humanitarian Programme is an important part of the country’s contribution to the international protection of refugees. It is designed to ensure Australia can respond effectively to global humanitarian situations and that support services are available to meet the specific needs of these entrants.

The following table shows the size and composition of the humanitarian, skilled and family migration categories from 2011–12 to 2014–15.

Migration category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Per cent change 
on previous year
Per cent change
for the period
Humanitarian Programme
Offshore resettlement component1,476 4,063 2,361 2,335 -1.1 58.2
Onshore protection component493 475 130 355 173.1 -28.0
Total: Humanitarian visa grants 1,969 4,538 2,491 2,690 n/a n/a
Humanitarian visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)78.1 91.8 82.8 82.6 n/a n/a
Skilled migration (points tested)
Skilled Regional12 < 10< 10< 1040.0 -41.7
Skilled Independent18 21 28 38 35.7 111.1
State/Territory Nominated38 24 27 36 33.3 -5.3
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment0 < 100 < 10n/a n/a
Distinguished Talent0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Employer Sponsored31 21 21 15 -28.6 -51.6
Total: Skilled visa grants 99 83 81 102 25.9 3.0
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)3.9 1.7 2.7 3.1 n/a n/a
Family migration
Child16 13 < 10< 1014.3 -50.0
Partner362 260 382 420 9.9 16.0
Parent11 15 < 10< 10-11.1 -27.3
Other Family63 29 37 30 -18.9 -52.4
Total: Family visa grants 452 317 435 466 7.1 3.1
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)17.9 6.4 14.5 14.3 n/a n/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility0  < 10  < 10 0 -100.0 n/a
Total: Permanent migrants 2,520 4,941 3,010 3,258 8.2 29.3

Temporary migration

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 may 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 Iraq.

Temporary visa category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15Per cent change
on previous year
Per cent change
for the period
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students< 10< 10< 10< 100.0 100.0
Schools< 100 0 < 10n/a 0.0
Vocational Education and Training0 0 < 10< 1050.0 n/a
Higher Education112 160 277 243 -12.3 117.0
Postgraduate Research173 391 742 615 -17.1 >200.0
Non-Award0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Foreign Affairs or Defence49 75 19 < 10-68.4 -87.8
Total: International Student visa grants 336 629 1,042 870 -16.5 158.9
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)48 77 26 48 84.6 0.0
Visitors            
Tourist384 405 519 508 -2.1 32.3
Business visitor466 411 177 123 -30.5 -73.6
Medical Treatment< 10< 1014 < 10-85.7 -75.0
Total: Visitor visa grants 858 821 710 633 -10.8 -26.2

Main occupations

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 Iraqi nationals for Points Tested Skilled Migration outcomes and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) grants.

Period Temporary Work
(Skilled) visa
(subclass 457)
No. of migrants Points Tested Skilled Migration No. of migrants
2014–15
 General practitioners and resident medical officers 10 Computer network professionals < 10
 Importers, exporters and wholesalers < 10Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Archivists, curators and records managers < 10Other medical practitioners < 10
 Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians < 10Construction managers < 10
 Motor mechanics < 10Generalist medical practitioners < 10
 - - ICT managers < 10
 - - Architects and landscape architects < 10
 - - Dental practitioners < 10
 - - Electrical engineers < 10
 - - Electronics engineers < 10
2013–14
 General practitioners and resident medical officers < 10Generalist medical practitioners < 10
 Mining engineers < 10Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Ministers of religion < 10Construction managers < 10
 Science technicians < 10Industrial, mechanical and production engineers < 10
 Motor mechanics < 10Telecommunications engineering professionals < 10
 - -Actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians < 10
 - - Anaesthetists < 10
 - - Architectural, building and surveying technicians < 10
 - - Computer network professionals < 10
 - - Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists < 10
2012–13
 General practitioners and resident medical officers 13 Generalist medical practitioners < 10
 Other medical practitioners < 10Industrial, mechanical and production engineers < 10
 General managers < 10Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Other information and organisation professionals < 10Other engineering professionals < 10
 Civil engineering professionals < 10Specialist physicians < 10
 Electrical engineers < 10Architectural, building and surveying technicians < 10
 ICT business and systems analysts < 10Computer network professionals < 10
 Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians < 10Construction managers < 10
 Contract, program and project administrators < 10Dental practitioners < 10
 - - ICT support and test engineers < 10
2011–12
 General practitioners and resident medical officers < 10Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Civil engineering professionals < 10ICT business and systems analysts < 10
 Psychiatrists < 10Industrial, mechanical and production engineers < 10
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers < 10Dental practitioners < 10
 Training and development professionals < 10Electronics engineers < 10
 Medical laboratory scientists < 10Other medical practitioners < 10
 Dental practitioners < 10Architects and landscape architects < 10
 Surgeons < 10Chemical and materials engineers < 10
 Other medical practitioners < 10Electrical engineers < 10
 Civil engineering draftspersons and technicians < 10Engineering managers < 10

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 - 201132 25 20 7 10 2 1 2
Proportion of Iraq-born counted in the Census - 201161 27 3 3 5 0 0 1
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Humanitarian Programme64 25 4 1 3 0 0 2
Skill stream (primary)32 42 5 5 11 0 0 5
Skill stream (dependent)27 44 7 0 22 0 0 0
Family stream57 26 5 4 8 0 0 1
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students27 22 24 5 20 2 0 1
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)20 26 15 6 31 0 2 0
Permanent departures (%)
All Iraq-born permanent residents65 15 8 4 8 0 0 1

Country ranking

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

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014–15
Population in Australia24 24 23 23
Points Tested Skilled Migration53 53 55 51
Employer Sponsored62 70 70 75
Total Skill stream58 60 62 62
Total Family stream27 33 32 28
International students62 47 38 41
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)73 71 77 70
Visitors86 88 94 97