About Us

Country profile - Syria

Syria is a lower middle income country with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis approximately one tenth that of Australia. Prior to the conflict starting in 2011, Syria was implementing economic reforms to remove the constraints on growth and social reform. Since the conflict began, the Syrian economy has deteriorated due to international sanctions as well as impact of damage to infrastructure, reduced domestic activity and high inflation.

The past four years of conflict in Syria has forced half of its population from their homes, creating a refugee crisis. As a result, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 12.2 million people in Syria that need humanitarian assistance and around four million refugees currently living in neighbouring countries. Australia is providing humanitarian assistance in response to the growing humanitarian crisis across Syria and Iraq.

Population

At the end of June 2014, 11,270 Syrian-born people were living in Australia, 34 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This is equivalent to 0.2 per cent of Australia’s overseas born population and 0.05 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Syrian-born migrants:

  • The median age of 45.7 years was 8.4 years above that of the general population.
  • Females outnumber males—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 component< 10 98 1,007 2,232 121.6 > 200
Onshore protection component46 113 49 89 81.6 93.5
Total: Humanitarian visa grants 55 211 1,056 2,321 n/a n/a
Humanitarian visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)18.6 51.1 80.7 91.3 n/a n/a
Skilled migration (points tested)            
Skilled Regional< 10  < 10  < 10 < 10 300.0 60.0
Skilled Independent10 16 25 39 56.0 > 200
State/Territory Nominated12 30 38 51 34.2 > 200
Skilled migration (non-points tested)            
Business Innovation and Investment < 10 0  < 10 0 -100.0 -100.0
Distinguished Talent0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Employer Sponsored < 10 < 10 < 10 13 44.4 > 200
Total: Skilled visa grants 35 53 78 111 42.3 > 200
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)11.9 12.8 6.0 4.4 n/a n/a
Family migration            
Child < 10 < 10 14  < 10 -85.7 100.0
Partner174 115 157 103 -34.4 -40.8
Parent0 < 10  < 10  < 10 -66.7 n/a
Other Family29 21  < 10  < 10 200.0 -89.7
Total: Family visa grants 204 148 175 109 -37.7 -46.6
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)69.2 35.8 13.4 4.3 n/a n/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility < 10  < 10 0 0 n/a -100.0
Total: Permanent migrants 295 413 1,309 2,541 94.1 > 200

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, 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 Syria.

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 Students< 10 < 10 < 10 < 10 0.0 100.0
Schools     0 < 10 0 0 n/a n/a
Vocational Education and Training  < 10 0 < 10 0 -100.0 -100.0
Higher Education    22 < 10 13 15 15.4 -31.8
Postgraduate Research   < 10 < 10 < 10 < 10 -37.5 66.7
Non-Award    0 < 10 0 0 n/a n/a
Foreign Affairs or Defence   0 0 < 10 0 -100.0 n/a
Total: International Student visa grants   32 23 28 22 -21.4 -31.3
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)  25 73 38 37 -2.6 48.0
Visitors                 
Tourist     348 145 157 166 5.7 -52.3
Business visitor    70 44 70 49 -30.0 -30.0
Medical Treatment    0 0 < 10 0 -100.0 n/a
Total: Visitor visa grants    418 189 228 215 -5.7 -48.6

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 Syrian 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
 Technical sales representatives < 10 Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers < 10 Computer network professionals < 10
 Archivists, curators and records managers < 10 Construction managers < 10
 Mining engineers < 10 Software and applications programmers < 10
 Other engineering professionals < 10 Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers < 10
 Telecommunications engineering professionals < 10 Electrical engineers < 10
 Structural steel and welding trades workers < 10 Electronics engineers < 10
 General practitioners and resident medical officers < 10 Human resource professionals < 10
 - - Actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians < 10
 - - Call or contact centre and customer service managers < 10
2013–14
 Contract, program and project administrators < 10 ICT business and systems analysts < 10
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers < 10 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers < 10
 Engineering managers < 10 Advertising and marketing professionals < 10
 Other specialist managers < 10 Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers < 10 Construction managers < 10
 Archivists, curators and records managers < 10 Contract, program and project administrators < 10
 Advertising and marketing professionals < 10 Software and applications programmers < 10
 Other medical practitioners < 10 Architects and landscape architects < 10
 Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists < 10 Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists < 10
 Computer network professionals < 10 Generalist medical practitioners < 10
2012–13
 Importers, exporters and wholesalers < 10 Software and applications programmers < 10
 General practitioners and resident medical officers < 10 Accountants < 10
 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers < 10 Civil engineering professionals < 10
 Contract, program and project administrators < 10 Computer network professionals < 10
 Finance managers < 10 Electronics engineers < 10
 Engineering managers < 10 ICT business and systems analysts < 10
 Other education managers < 10 Agricultural and forestry scientists < 10
 Call or contact centre and customer service managers < 10 Construction managers < 10
 Management and organisation analysts < 10 Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists < 10
 Civil engineering professionals < 10 Geologists and geophysicists < 10
2011–12
 University lecturers and tutors < 10 Accountants < 10
 Medical laboratory scientists < 10 ICT business and systems analysts < 10
 ICT support technicians < 10 Other engineering professionals < 10
 Advertising, public relations and sales managers < 10 Dental hygienists, technicians and therapists < 10
 Retail managers < 10 Architectural, building and surveying technicians < 10
 Accountants < 10 Electronics engineers < 10
 Archivists, curators and records managers < 10 Secondary school teachers < 10
 ICT sales professionals < 10 Software and applications programmers < 10
 Mining engineers < 10 Specialist physicians < 10
 Software and applications programmers < 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 Syria-born counted in the Census - 201162 27 4 3 3 1 0 1
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Humanitarian Programme71 21 1 2 3 0 0 1
Skill stream (primary)23 35 0 27 8 0 0 8
Skill stream (dependent)31 17 12 21 10 0 0 10
Family stream64 25 2 0 3 0 0 6
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students49 21 17 7 7 0 0 0
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)26 30 7 2 35 0 0 0
Permanent departures (%)
All Syria-born permanent residents59 21 3 3 14 0 0 0

Country ranking

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

 

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014–15
Population in Australia73 73 72 69
Points Tested Skilled Migration69 58 52 47
Employer Sponsored105 90 87 77
Total Skill stream78 70 64 59
Total Family stream42 52 43 58
International students109 122 121 123
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) 82 73 72 71
Visitors100 119 114 122