About Us

Country profile - Malaysia

Malaysia is the third largest economy in South-East Asia and is considered a high middle-income export oriented economy. Malaysia’s economy is dominated by gross exports of goods and services, which contribute over 80 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP) with the manufacture and export of electronic and electrical products globally, and the export of oil and gas in the South-East Asia region. This reliance on exports meant that Malaysia experienced a significant economic slowdown during the global financial crisis as overseas demand for its goods and services waned.

With long term average growth of over 7 per cent for the last quarter of a century, Malaysia has reduced the number of people living below the poverty line. Despite this, there remains a substantial income differential between Australia and Malaysia. On a purchasing power parity basis, GDP per capita in 2014 was less than half that of Australia.

Australia-Malaysia migration relations are strong, with education and tourism comprising the majority of visitor arrivals from Malaysia. In 2014, Australian education-related personal travel exports amounted to $720m.

Population

At the end of June 2014, 153,870 Malaysian-born people were living in Australia, 31 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This makes it the ninth largest migrant community in Australia—equivalent to 2.3 per cent of Australia’s overseas born population and 0.7 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Malaysian-born migrants:

  • Their median age of 38.7 years was around one year more than the general population.
  • Females outnumbered males—53 per cent compared with 47 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.

The following table shows the size and composition of the 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

Skilled migration (points tested)            
Skilled Regional965 374 156 67 -57.1 -93.1
Skilled Independent1,703 1,811 1,606 1,232 -23.3 -27.7
State/Territory Nominated952 979 580 733 26.4 -23.0
Skilled migration (non-points tested)           
Business Innovation and Investment363 421 170 244 43.5 -32.8
Distinguished Talent0  < 5 6 8 33.3 n/a
Employer Sponsored634 587 622 607 -2.4 -4.3
Total: Skilled visa grants 4,617 4,174 3,140 2,891 -7.9 -37.4
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)83.8 81.0 74.6 72.7 n/a n/a
Family migration            
Child67 85 112 140 25.0 109.0
Partner608 647 663 721 8.7 18.6
Parent208 222 278 225 -19.1 8.2
Other Family < 5 15  < 5 0 -100.0 -100.0
Total: Family visa grants 886 969 1,056 1,086 2.8 22.6
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)16.1 18.8 25.1 27.3 n/a n/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility5 8 11 0 -100.0 -100.0
Total: Permanent migrants 5,508 5,151 4,207 3,977 -5.5 -27.8

Temporary migration

Depending on the purpose and duration of their visit, people can come to Australia on a Visitor visa, or through another 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, tourism or 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 Malaysia.

Temporary visa category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Per cent change
on previous year
Per cent change
for the period
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students188 179 259 376 45.2 100.0
Schools250 155 164 154 -6.1 -38.4
Vocational Education and Training1,453 1,793 2,129 2,986 40.3 105.5
Higher Education6,288 5,897 6,180 6,203 0.4 -1.4
Postgraduate Research787 805 544 422 -22.4 -46.4
Non-Award238 222 229 197 -14.0 -17.2
Foreign Affairs or Defence112 92 87 76 -12.6 -32.1
Total: International Student visa grants 9,316 9,143 9,592 10,414 8.6 11.8
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)1,875 1,537 1,241 1,152 -7.2 -38.6
Visitors
Tourist179,292 200,978 254,299 279,542 9.9 55.9
Business visitor13,663 14,894 13,081 12,722 -2.7 -6.9
Medical Treatment23 24 20 16 -20.0 -30.4
Total: Visitor visa grants 192,978 215,896 267,400 292,280 9.3 51.5
Work and Holiday visa grants 100 100 100 100 0.0 0.0

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 Malaysian 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 193 Accountants 208
 Chefs 37 Other medical practitioners 70
 Accountants 32 Generalist medical practitioners 57
 Cooks 28 ICT business and systems analysts 56
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians 25 Civil engineering professionals 52
 Advertising and marketing professionals 23 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 45
 Cafe and restaurant managers 22 Registered nurses 45
 University lecturers and tutors 21 Architects and landscape architects 44
 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 19 Software and applications programmers 38
 Other medical practitioners 18 Chemical and materials engineers 33
2013–14
 General practitioners and resident medical officers 186 Accountants 227
 Accountants 33 Generalist medical practitioners 105
 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 29 Software and applications programmers 75
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians 27 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 73
 Cafe and restaurant managers 26 Civil engineering professionals 53
 Advertising and marketing professionals 24 Life scientists 51
 Chefs 22 Architects and landscape architects 50
 Management and organisation analysts 19 Other medical practitioners 50
 ICT business and systems analysts 19 Registered nurses 48
 Cooks 19 Advertising and marketing professionals 46
2012–13
 General practitioners and resident medical officers 176 Accountants 282
 Accountants 42 Generalist medical practitioners 176
 Other specialist managers 34 ICT business and systems analysts 96
 Cooks 32 Other medical practitioners 96
 Other engineering professionals 28 Software and applications programmers 92
 Software and applications programmers 27 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 75
 Cafe and restaurant managers 26 Pharmacists 60
 Management and organisation analysts 25 Advertising and marketing professionals 58
 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 25 Life scientists 57
 Chefs 24 Civil engineering professionals 55
2011–12
 General practitioners and resident medical officers 248 Accountants 352
 Contract, program and project administrators 48 Generalist medical practitioners 138
 Civil engineering professionals 44 Software and applications programmers 110
 Management and organisation analysts 39 ICT business and systems analysts 107
 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 38 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 99
 ICT business and systems analysts 38 Pharmacists 97
 Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians 35 Solicitors 87
 Other engineering professionals 31 Other medical practitioners 84
 Accountants 29 Civil engineering professionals 76
 Chefs 27 Electronics engineers 69

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 - 2011

32

25

20

7

10

2

1

2

Proportion of Malaysia-born counted in the Census  - 2011

24

34

11

6

22

1

1

2

Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Skill stream (primary)15 41 7 12 21 1 0 2
Skill stream (dependent)13 39 6 15 22 1 1 2
Family stream24 38 9 5 21 1 0 1
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students16 40 12 9 18 2 0 2
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)19 24 17 6 30 1 3 1
Permanent departures (%)
All Malaysia-born permanent residents33 31 11 4 20 1 0 1

Country ranking

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

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014–15
Population in Australia9 9 9 9
Points Tested Skilled Migration5 5 8 10
Employer Sponsored13 14 13 14
Total Skill stream7 7 10 11
Total Family stream14 12 11 12
International students5 7 8 6
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)11 15 15 15
Visitors5 5 5 5