Country Profile: Republic of India

Republic of India

Capital City: New Delhi

Population, 2010: 1.21 billion

Language: Hindi, English

Monetary Unit: Indian rupee


1. Overview

India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, covering a diverse range of activities – from subsistence agriculture through to modern manufacturing and information technology. Much of India’s increased economic engagement with the rest of the world in recent years has been driven by growth in the services sector – most notably the outsourcing of work from developed countries.

Despite recent progress significant challenges remain – these include addressing high inflation, managing government debt and improving infrastructure. Another challenge is to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are experienced more equitably with high levels of unemployment and low average incomes throughout India. Although India has a large well-educated middle class, average incomes are less than 10 per cent of Australian levels and low by international standards. Economic opportunity therefore provides the biggest incentive for Indian emigrants, and skilled workers will be attracted to countries such as Australia, which offer high living standards. This diaspora is most notable among the educated with 4.3 per cent of India’s tertiary educated population living outside India.

Although Australia is not one of the top 10 destination countries for Indian emigrants, a large and well-established Indian community combined with high living standards will ensure continued demand for Indians seeking to migrate. Australia is a top destination for students however, with Indian nationals representing 21 per cent of all international students in 2009-10.

A summary measure of well being is the Human Development Index (HDI), produced by the United Nations. The HDI is a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: health, education and income. Australia ranks very high on this measure, with a 2010 score of 0.94, second only to Norway.

Table 1

By comparison, India has a HDI of 0.51 resulting in a rank of 119 out of 169 countries. Although this ranking is quite low in international terms, it is only sightly below the regional average of 0.52.


2. Community in Australia

At the end of June 2009 there were 308 540 India born people living in Australia, 47.7 per cent more than was reported in the August 2006 Census of Population and Housing. This makes it the fourth largest migrant community in Australia – equivalent to 5.3 per cent of Australia’s overseas born population and 1.4 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Indian born migrants:

  • The median age of 30.2 years was almost seven years below that of the general population.
  • Males significantly outnumbered females – 59 per cent compared with 41 per cent.
  • The participation rate of 79.6 per cent was high, well above the national rate of 6.5 per cent.
  • At December 2010 the unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent was slightly higher than the national rate of 5.0 per cent.*
  • 194 800 Indian nationals were working in Australia at September 2010. Of those employed professionals were the largest group, representing 31 per cent of the total. Clerical and administrative workers and labourers were also common occupations (13 and 14 per cent respectively).


3. Permanent Migration and Temporary Entry

Summary, 2009-10

Permanent Additions to the Australian Population*

There were 23 342 India born permanent additions to the Australian resident population, making India the third largest (behind the UK and China) source country of new migrants to Australia. Among the new additions to the Australian resident population:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 76 per cent of all permanent additions and comprised 8721 skilled migrants and 8913 accompanying family members.
  • The family stream comprised 5164 family migrants and accounted for 22 per cent of all permanent additions.
  • Non-program migration of India born New Zealand citizens accounted for the bulk of the remaining 1.9 per cent.

Permanent Migration Visas Granted, 2009-10*

Table 2

There were 23 164 Indian nationals that were granted a permanent visa through the Migration Program. Among the new permanent visa holders:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 78 per cent (18 042 persons) of the permanent visas granted, with the General Skilled Migration Program* accounting for three-quarters of all skilled visa grants.
  • The Family Stream accounted for 22 per cent (5103 persons) of the permanent visas granted, with 8 in every 10 visas granted to the partner of an Australian resident.*

Temporary Entry Visas Granted, 2009-10

Table 3

Of the main temporary entry program visas granted to Indian nationals:

  • 29 721 Student visas were granted, of which 60 per cent were to those enrolling in a vocational education course, with a further 37 per cent enrolling in an undergraduate or postgraduate course in Australia.
  • 11 440 Indian workers were granted a Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa, with Computing Professionals, Applications and Analyst Programmers and Registered Nurses the main sponsored occupations.
  • 98 557 Visitor visas were granted.


Detailed Analysis

Permanent Migration Visas Granted

Table 2 & 4

Skilled Migration

Skilled migration is focused on facilitating the permanent entry of those who can make a positive contribution to Australia through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurial spirit and future employment potential.

  • In 2009-10, 107 868 Skilled visas were granted, with grants to Indian nationals accounting for 17 per cent (18 042 grants) of the total.
  • Total permanent visas granted through the Skill Stream fell 6 per cent in 2009-10. This trend was followed by Indian nationals with skilled visas falling by 10 per cent (2063 places) last year.
  • Skilled migration remains the predominant route for Indian nationals seeking permanent residency in Australia. In 2009-10, the Skilled Program accounted for almost 8 in every 10 permanent visas granted to Indian nationals.
  • Reflecting the shift in skilled migration towards, demand-driven entry, there has been a steady increase in the number of Indian nationals applying through the employer sponsored component, increasing from 8 per cent of all skilled visa grants in 2006-07 to 26 per cent in 2009-10.
  • The number of Indian nationals granted a General Skilled Migration* visa was down by 20 per cent in 2009-10, following a period of stable growth this fall coincided with the introduction of priority processing in January 2009.
  • Computing Professionals, Accountants and Mechanical Engineers were the main occupations among the new General Skilled Migration visa holders.

Family Migration

Family migration facilitates the entry of close family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The program is currently dominated by fiancés, partners and dependent children, but also provides options for other family members such as parents, aged dependent relatives, carers and remaining relatives to join family in Australia.

  • In 2009-10, 60 254 family visas were granted, with grants to Indian nationals accounting for 8.5 per cent (5103 grants) of the total. This made India the third largest contributor of Family Stream migrants, behind the UK and China.
  • The Family Stream accounted for 22 per cent of all permanent visas granted to Indian nationals in the last year, up from 19 per cent in 2006-07. The partner component of the program which currently accounts for 80 per cent of all Indian family migrants has undergone strong growth over the last four years.


Temporary Entry Visas Granted

Table 3 & 4
International Students

The Student Visa Program 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.

In 2009-10 there was a reduction in both the number of student visa applications received and the number of visas granted. Reasons included increased competition from overseas markets compounded by the strengthening of the Australian dollar, the introduction of robust student visa integrity measures and changes made to the General Skilled Migration program. While student visa grants fell by over 15 per cent, the total stock of international students in Australia remained relatively unaffected, only decreasing 1.1 per cent in 2009-10.

  • After the USA, Australia is the second most popular tertiary study destination for international students originating from India. In 2008, 14 per cent of all Indian international tertiary students chose Australia.
  • India is the largest provider of overseas students to Australia, as at June 2010, there were 79 710 Indian student visa holders in Australia, representing 21 per cent of all international students in Australia.
  • In 2009-10, 29 721 Indian nationals were granted a student visa – representing a huge decrease of 55 per cent on 2008-09 grants, and much greater than the overall 15 per cent fall in student grants over the same period.
  • Indian students are highly concentrated in Vocational Education and Training sector which experienced a larger fall at this time. The Vocational Education and Training sector accounting for 60 per cent of all Indian student visa grants.

Business Long Stay (subclass 457) Workers

The subclass 457 visa program allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign workers for employment in management, professional, technical and skilled trades’ positions. The program is demand-driven and highly responsive to Australian labour market conditions. Statistics shows that the demand for subclass 457 visas increases in line with increased skilled vacancies.

The demand for foreign workers under this program declined following the economic downturn, but application rates steadily increased over the second half of 2009-10. In recent months business conditions have begun to improve and the number of applications lodged has increased.

In 2009-10, 67 980 visas were granted globally, a reduction of 33 per cent on the previous year.

  • India is the second largest source of Australia’s subclass 457 migrants with 14 010 India born migrants on this visa in Australia at June 2010.
  • In 2009-10, there were 11 440 subclass 457 visas granted to Indian nationals. This was 23 per cent lower than the previous year.
  • Among the Indian workers sponsored under this program, Computing Professionals, Applications and Analyst Programmers and Registered Nurses were the main occupations for which Australian employers recruited from India.


In 2009-10, 98 557 visitor visas were granted to Indian nationals, with tourists accounting for two-thirds of all visitors. The number of visitor visas granted to Indian nationals has increased by 29 per cent over the last four years, from 76 303 grants in 2006-07 to 98 557 grants in 2009.

The number of sponsored Family Visitor visa grants has also increased – more than doubling (from 624 to 1325 grants) between 2006-07 and 2009-10.


4. Emigration*

Table 5

In 2009-10, 849 India born permanent residents indicated at departure that they were leaving Australia permanently – with over 35 per cent intending to return to India. Other popular destinations were Singapore, USA, New Zealand and the UK.

  • Around a third of these emigrants were professionals, with managers and administrators accounting for a further 10 per cent.
  • The largest proportion were emigrating from New South Wales and Victoria, with each State accounting for 48 per cent and 27 per cent of India born emigrants respectively.

5. State and Territory summary

Table 5

New South Wales and Victoria were the most popular States of residence for Indians in Australia. Around 4 in 10 established India born migrants lived in New South Wales at the time of the last Census, while Victoria was the most preferred destination for the 2009-10 cohort of permanent migrants. Indian international students favoured Victoria, with 43 per cent enrolled in an academic institution based in Victoria. 35 per cent of subclass 457 workers from India were sponsored for employment in New South Wales.

Explanatory notes

  1. Unemployment rates for individual migrant countries are calculated from the monthly ABS labour force survey (using published and unpublished data) and have been averaged across six months to account for monthly fluctuations and a small sample size. The national unemployment rate is the seasonally adjusted figure for December 2010.
  2. 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, that have entered Australia during the respective reporting period.
  3. Visa grants are the sum of all permanent migration and temporary entry visa applications granted in Australia, through the Australian Government’s online visa portal, and visa grants made at an Australian mission abroad.
  4. Australian residents are Australian citizens residents in Australia and other permanent residents.
  5. General Skilled Migration (GSM) is the sum of total Skilled Family Sponsored, Skilled Independent and State/Territory Sponsored visas.
  6. Emigration is the number of persons who reported on their overseas departure card that they were leaving Australia permanently.


Further reading

This profile was prepared using information and statistics collated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and commentary extracted from the following publications:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
See:Country, economy and regional information

Department of Immigration and Citizenship

International Monetary Fund
See:Country Information

Central Intelligence Agency
See:World Fact Book 2010

United Nations Development Program
See:Human Development Report 2010

World Bank
See:The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011

Statistical tables – India

Table 1: Economic and Human Development Indicators, 2010

Indicator Australia India
Adult Literacy (%) 99.0 61.0
Fertility Rates (children per female) 1.9 2.5
GDP per capita (US$) 36 692 3290
Life Expectancy at birth (years) 81.9 64.4
Mean years of schooling 12 4.4
Human Development Index 0.94 0.51
Median Age (years) 37.8 25.0
Population (millions) 22.3 1 214
Population growth, 2010 (%) 1.7 1.3

* All data (with the exception of adult literacy rates) were sourced from the UNDP Human Development Report 2010. Data on adult literacy was sourced from the CIA World Factbook, due to incomplete country information in the UNDP Report. Australia’s data was sourced from the ABS. Data on GDP per capita from International Monetary Fund, World Economics Outlook Database Oct 2010.


Table 2: Number of persons granted a permanent Australian visa (by nationality), 2006-07 to 2009-10

India 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Skilled Migration
 Business Skills 96 114 63 83
  Distinguished Talent 6 8 1 8
  Employer Sponsored 1 240 2 128 3 966 4 626
General Skilled Migration
  Skilled Family Sponsored 2 119 2 226 1 670 750
  Skilled Independent 10 653 12 510 10 543 8 026
  State/Territory Sponsored Visa Classes 1 751 2 295 3 862 4 549
Total number of skilled visa grants 15 865 19 281 20 105 18 042
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas %) 81 83 80 78
Family Migration
Child 173 187 229 234
Prospective Marriage (fiancé) 218 199 217 173
Partners 2 877 3 284 3 824 4 070
Parent 280 251 572 527
Preferential/Other Family 86 113 94 99
Total number of family visa grants 3 634 4 034 4 936 5 103
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%) 19 17 20 22
Special Eligibility 6 2 1 19
Total – Permanent Migrants 19 505 23 317 25 042 23 164

Sourced from internal data collected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Table 3: Number of persons granted a temporary Australian visa (by nationality), 2006-07 to 2009-10

India 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students 140 106 79 84
Schools 52 62 147 96
Vocational and Education Sector 6743 12 582 36 731 17 853
Higher Education 26 521 34 150 27 717 10 988
Postgraduate 454 424 449 470
Non-Award 207 285 344 208
AusAID or Defence 29 30 36 22
Total – International Student visa grants 34 146 47 639 65 503 29 721
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) 11 980 15 120 14 770 11 440
Tourist 51 919 64 636 70 223 75 120
Business Visitor 23 760 25 175 21511 22 112
Sponsored Family Visitor 624 716 1 040
Total – Visitor visa grants 76 303 90 527 92 774 98 557

Sourced from internal data collected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Table 4: Main occupations among those granted a permanent (GSM) or temporary (subclass 457) visa, 2006-07 to 2009-10



Proportion of all persons counted in the Census, 2006 33 25 20 8 10 2 1 2
Proportion of all India born counted in the Census, 2006 39 36 7 5 10 1 0 2
Geographical Distribution, Permanent Additions 2009-10
Skill Stream 27 33 10 12 14 1 2 2
Family Stream 33 40 9 5 11 0 1 2
Geographical Distribution, Temporary Entrants 2009-10
International Students 24 43 17 6 7 0 0 1
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 35 32 11 5 13 1 2 2
All India born 48 27 7 4 11 0 1 1

Information on migrants was sourced from internal data collected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Information on the geographical distribution of the total population was sourced from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

Table 6: India’s migration ranking relative to other countries

India 2008-09 2009-10
Indian born Population in Australia 4 4
General Skilled Migration 1 1
Employer sponsored 4 4
Total Skilled Stream 2 2
Total Family Stream 3 3
International Students 1 2
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 2 1
Visitors 10 10

All information refers to the number of visas granted that year and was sourced from internal data collected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, except for Population in Australia which is sourced from the ABS and refers to the stock of overseas born persons in Australia at the time.

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