South Africa is considered an upper-middle income country and is Africa's second largest economy after Nigeria. The South African economy is diversified across a range of sectors including financial, communications, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. South Africa has a relatively high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita compared to other countries in Africa, though only one-quarter of Australia's on a purchasing power parity basis.
Despite having relatively high GDP per capita, South Africa faces significant long-term social and economic challenges such as income inequality, unemployment and HIV/AIDS. South Africa is ranked in the top 10 countries in the world for income inequality and over one-quarter of South Africans are unemployed. South African emigrants are therefore driven by a strong incentive to potentially seek better employment and social outcomes in countries abroad, such as Australia. This incentive to migrate is most notable amongst skilled South Africans with 7.5 per cent of tertiary-educated South Africans living overseas.
At the end of June 2014, 176,340 South African-born people were living in Australia, 48 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This is equivalent to 2.7 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 0.8 per cent of Australia's total population. South Africa-born migrants represent the eighth largest migrant community in Australia.
For Australia's South Africa-born migrants:
- Their median age of 40.9 years was 3.5 years above that of the general population.
- Males and females were equally represented.
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 migration (non-points tested)|
|Business Innovation and Investment||350||126||93||56||-39.8||-84.0|
Total: Skilled visa grants||
|Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)||88.0||84.5||84.9||83.1||n/a||n/a|
Family migration |
Total: Family visa grants||
|Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)||11.8||15.4||14.9||16.6||n/a||n/a|
Special Eligibility |
Total: Permanent migrants||
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 South Africa.
|Temporary visa category||2011–12||2012–13||2013–14||2014–15||Per cent change|
on previous year
|Per cent change|
for the period
|English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students||0||0||0||0||n/a||n/a|
|Vocational Education and Training||175||153||165||214||29.7||22.3|
|Non-Award||8||< 5||< 5||7||75.0||-12.5|
|Foreign Affairs or Defence||22||17||19||11||-42.1||-50.0|
Total: International Student visa grants||
|Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)||4,086||2,870||1,682||1,717||2.1||-58.0|
Total: Visitor visa grants||
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 South African nationals for Points Tested Skilled Migration outcomes and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) grants.
|No. of migrants||Points Tested Skilled Migration ||No. of migrants|
| ||Advertising and marketing professionals||31||Software and applications programmers||34|
| ||Technical sales representatives||26||Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers||21|
| ||ICT business and systems analysts||26||ICT business and systems analysts||17|
| ||Software and applications programmers||26||Industrial, mechanical and production engineers||17|
| ||Advertising, public relations and sales managers||23||Secondary school teachers||16|
| ||Management and organisation analysts||22||Electricians||15|
| ||General practitioners and resident medical officers||18||Other engineering professionals||12|
| ||Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians||13||Metal fitters and machinists||11|
| ||Production managers||12||Computer network professionals||10|
| ||Advertising, public relations and sales managers||23||Software and applications programmers||48|
| ||Software and applications programmers||22||Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers||30|
| ||ICT business and systems analysts||21||Primary school teachers||30|
| ||General practitioners and resident medical officers||20||General managers||22|
| ||Management and organisation analysts||19||Civil engineering professionals||20|
| ||Advertising and marketing professionals||19||Industrial, mechanical and production engineers||20|
| ||General managers||18||Secondary school teachers||19|
| ||Technical sales representatives||18||Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists||17|
| ||Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians||18||Human resource professionals||17|
| ||Other specialist managers||40||Accountants||124|
| ||General practitioners and resident medical officers||39||Software and applications programmers||62|
| ||Motor mechanics||38||Industrial, mechanical and production engineers||26|
| ||Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians||36||Secondary school teachers||26|
| ||Technical sales representatives||33||Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers||25|
| ||Advertising, public relations and sales managers||29||ICT business and systems analysts||25|
| ||Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians||29||Other engineering professionals||23|
| ||Contract, program and project administrators||28||Civil engineering professionals||18|
| ||Production managers||26||Dental practitioners||15|
| ||Other building and engineering technicians||26||Primary school teachers||14|
| ||Contract, program and project administrators||71||Accountants||171|
| ||Other specialist managers||64||Software and applications programmers||72|
| ||Civil engineering professionals||54||Metal fitters and machinists||59|
| ||General practitioners and resident medical officers||54||ICT business and systems analysts||42|
| ||Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians||48||Electricians||38|
| ||Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians||48||Other engineering professionals||35|
| ||Motor mechanics||47||Industrial, mechanical and production engineers||26|
| ||ICT business and systems analysts||46||Secondary school teachers||20|
| ||Management and organisation analysts||41||Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers||19|
| ||Metal fitters and machinists||40||Civil engineering professionals||18|
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.
|Proportion of all persons counted in the Census – 2011 (%)||32||25||20||7||10||2||1||2|
|Proportion of South Africa-born counted in the Census – 2011 (%)||28||17||24||4||24||1||1||1|
Permanent additions – 2014–15 (%)|
|Skill stream (primary)||27||16||18||4||32||0||1||1|
|Skill stream (dependent)||26||12||21||5||32||0||1||2|
Temporary entrants – 2014–15 (%)|
|Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)||34||17||17||2||26||0||2||2|
Permanent departures (%)|
|All South Africa-born permanent residents||33||17||24||3||20||0||1||1|
This table uses rankings to show the significance of South African migration for the past four financial years.
|Ranked position of migrants||2011–12||2012–13||2013–14||2014–15|
|Population in Australia||8||8||8||8|
|Points Tested Skilled Migration||6||7||9||12|
|Total Skill stream||5||5||7||7|
|Total Family stream||13||16||17||16|
|Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) ||7||7||12||12|