Country Profile: Republic of the Philippines

Country Profile: Republic of the Philippines

Capital City: Manila

Population, 2010: 93.6 million

Official Language: Tagalog

Monetary Unit: Philippine Peso

1. Overview

The number of Filipinos migrating to Australia increased rapidly in the 1980s and was initially dominated by Filipino women arriving as spouses under the then Family Reunion Program. Since 2004 however, the majority of Filipino migrants have come to Australia via the Skill Stream. The number of visas granted through the Skill Stream accounted for two thirds of the permanent visas granted in 2009-10 and has more than doubled since 2006-07.

Economic factors contribute significantly to the continued increase in skilled migration from the Philippines. While the Philippines is a country rich in resources with a large and literate population, its per capita GDP is less than a tenth of Australia’s on a purchasing-power-parity basis. For this reason, many skilled Filipinos work overseas to provide remittances for their families. Overseas remittance income accounts for more than 10 per cent of the Philippine economy. Another factor driving migration is better quality of life in countries like Australia- access to education and health care are big pull. These factors have contributed to the Philippines having one of the highest emigration rates in the world-particularly among the educated, with 14 per cent of its tertiary educated population currently living abroad.

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, the Philippines currently ranks 97 out of 169 countries. With its region it is reasonably placed, with an HDI of 0.64 compared to the East Asia and Pacific regional average of 0.65.


2. Community in Australia

At the end of June 2009 there were an estimated 168 500 Philippine born people living in Australia, 39.8 per cent more than was reported in the August 2006 Census of Population and Housing. It is the seventh largest migrant community in Australia – equivalent to 2.9 per cent of Australia’s overseas born population and 0.8 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Philippine born migrants:

  • The median age of 39.5 years was almost three years above that of the general population.
  • Females outnumbered males by a large proportion – 63 per cent compared with 37 per cent.
  • In 2010, their labour force participation rate of 74.9 per cent was considerably higher than the national rate of around 65 per cent.
  • The unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent in December 2010 was lower than the national rate of 5.0 per cent.*
  • At September 2010 an estimated 112 600 Filipinos were employed in Australia. Labourers were the largest occupation group (19.3 per cent), followed by professionals (18 per cent) and clerical and administrative workers (16.9 per cent).


3. Permanent Migration and Temporary Entry

Summary, 2009-10

Permanent Additions to the Australian Population*

There were 10 651 Philippine born permanent additions to the Australian resident population in 2009-10. This made the Philippines the largest South East Asian source and the seventh largest source overall of new migrants to Australia for that year. Among the new additions to the Australian resident population:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 64 per cent of all permanent additions and comprised 2488 skilled migrants and 4293 accompanying family members.
  • The Family Stream comprised 3454 family migrants and accounted for 32 per cent of all permanent additions.
  • Non-program migration of Philippine born New Zealand citizens accounted for the bulk of the remainder contributing 3.3 per cent of permanent additions.

Permanent Migration Visas Granted, 2009-10*

Table 2

There were 10 152 Philippine nationals who were granted a permanent visa in 2009-10. Among the new permanent visa holders:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 67 per cent (6832 persons) of the permanent visas granted, with two-thirds of grants going to employer sponsored applications.
  • The Family Stream accounted for 33 per cent (3307 persons), with over three quarters of visas granted to either the partner (51 per cent) or fiancé (30 per cent) of an Australian resident.*

Temporary Entry Visas Granted, 2009-10

Table 3 & 4

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

  • 2953 Student visas were granted, of which half of all visas were granted to those intending to undertake a Vocational Education and Training course in Australia.
  • 4780 Filipino workers were granted a Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa, with Registered Nurses, Skilled Meat Workers and Motor Mechanics as the main sponsored occupations.
  • 34 375 Visitor visas were granted.

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 Philippine nationals accounting for 6 per cent (6832 grants) of the total.
  • Despite skilled visa grants declining 6 per cent overall in 2009-10, skilled visa grants to Filipinos rose by 18 per cent.
  • The Skill Stream is now the predominant route for Philippine nationals seeking permanent residency in Australia. Permanent visas granted to Filipinos through the Skill Stream have more than doubled and have gone from 51 per cent of the total in 2006-07 to 67 per cent in 2009-10.
  • Reflecting the shift in the skilled migration towards, demand-driven entry, there has been a seven-fold and 2009-10 increase in the number of Filipinos applying through the employer sponsored component between 2006-07.
  • The points-tested General Skilled Migration Program*, while accounting for 34 per cent of skilled migrants in 2009-10 from the Philippines, has remained fairly stable.
  • Accountants, Computing Professionals and Registered Nurses 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 Philippine nationals accounting for 5.5 per cent (3307 grants) of the total. This represents the fourth largest cohort of Family Stream migrants, behind China, the UK and India.
  • Fiancés and partners of Australian residents accounted for 30 per cent and 51 per cent respectively of all Family visas granted to Philippine nationals in the last year.

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 accredited 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.

  • In 2009-10, 2953 Philippine nationals were granted a Student visa – representing 1.1 per cent of total Student visas granted in the last year. The Vocational Education and Training sector accounted for 50 per cent of all visa grants, while a further 34 per cent of students enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate course in Australia.
  • The number of grants to Filipino students has more than doubled in the last four years, from 1453 students in 2006-07 to 2953 students in 2009-10.
  • Despite student visa grants falling by 15.8 per cent overall (50 540 grants) in 2009-10, for Filipino nationals they rose 2.4 per cent (2 953 grants).
  • At June 2010, there were 4240 Filipino Student visa holders in Australia, representing 1.1 per cent of all international students in Australia and making Filipinos the 22nd largest group of international students.

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.

  • The Philippines is currently the fifth largest source of Australia’s subclass 457 migrants with 12 710 Philippine born migrants were on this visa in Australia at June 2010.
  • In 2009-10, there were 4780 subclass 457 visas granted to Philippine nationals, representing 7 per cent of total subclass 457 visas granted.
  • This was a dramatic decline on previous year, with grants 51 per cent down on 2008-09.
  • Western Australia attracts the most Filipinos entering Australia with a subclass 457 visa followed by Queensland, with 39 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
  • Among the Filipino workers sponsored under this program, Registered Nurses, Skilled Meat Workers and Motor Mechanics were the main occupations for which Australian employers recruited from the Philippines.


In 2009-10, 34 375 Visitor visas were granted to Philippine nationals – representing an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.


4. Emigration*

In 2009-10, 447 Philippine born permanent residents indicated at departure that they were leaving Australia permanently – with 43 per cent intending on returning to the Philippines.

  • 20 per cent of emigrants were professionals, while a further 8 per cent were associate professionals.
  • The largest proportion were emigrating from New South Wales (47 per cent) followed by Queensland (19 per cent).


5. State and Territory summary

Table 5

Philippine born persons in Australia tended to be fairly well distributed around the country. While almost half (48 per cent) of those residing in Australia at the time of the 2006 Census lived in New South Wales, varying proportions of new Filipino permanent and temporary entrants favoured different parts of the country. Western Australia was the most popular among the skilled cohort, attracting 25 per cent of new skilled migrants from the Philippines, while 37 per cent of family migrants intended to join family in New South Wales. Half of all international students from the Philippines were enrolling in an academic institution based in New South Wales. Employers in Western Australia sponsored around 4 in every 10 subclass 457 workers from the Philippines.


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 – Philippines

Table 1: Economic and Human Development Indicators, 2010

Australia Philippines
Adult Literacy (%) 99.0 92.6
Fertility Rates (children per female) 1.9 1.5
GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) 39 692 3 725
Life Expectancy at birth (years) 81.9 68.9
Mean years of schooling 12 9.7
Human Development Index 0.94 0.64
Median Age (years) 37.8 29.9
Population (millions) 22.3 93.6
Population growth, 2010 (%) 1.7 -0.6

* 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

Philippines 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Skilled Migration
  Business Skills 7 4 10 7
  Distinguished Talent 0 1 2 0
  Employer Sponsored 673 1 172 3 078 4 509
General Skilled Migration
  Skilled Family Sponsored 1 328 1 279 987 304
  Skilled Independent 995 1 152 1 196 1 210
  State/Territory Sponsored 179 252 516 802
Total – Skilled visa grants 3 182 3 860 5 789 6 832
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%) 51 55 64 67
Family Migration
 Child 311 278 362 316
 Prospective Marriage (fiancé) 935 952 966 985
 Partners 1 646 1 623 1 554 1 686
 Parent 56 44 86 100
 Preferential/Other Family 150 193 243 212
Total – Family visa grants 3 098 3 090 3 211 3 307
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%) 49 44 36 33
Special Eligibility 0 6 1 21
Total – Permanent Migrants 6 280 6 956 9 001 10 152

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

Philippines 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students 12 70 70 38
Schools 19 29 42 41
Vocational and Education Sector (VET) 679 1 014 1 690 1 463
Higher education 322 470 712 1 014
Postgraduate 31 45 46 83
Non-Award 23 12 50 37
AusAID or Defence 367 368 273 277
Total – International Student visa grants 1 453 2 008 2 883 2 953
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) 6 870 9 180 9 790 4 780
Tourist 23 061 25 152 23 316 26 384
Business Visitor 6 897 7 404 5 762 6 118
Sponsored Family Visitor 1 307 1 491 1 774 1 873
Total – Visitor visa grants 31 265 34 047 30 852 34 375

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

Philippines Business Long Stay (subclass 457) General Skilled Migration
Temporary Entry (employer sponsored) Permanent Entry (unsponsored)
2009-10 Registered Nurse 220 Accountant 270
Skilled Meat Worker 100 Computing Professional * 140
Motor Mechanic 70 Registered Nurse 80
Computer Professionals* 60 Civil Engineer 50
Welder (First Class) 50 Electronics Engineer 40
Applications and Analyst Programmer 50 Electrical Engineer 30
Fitter 40 Mechanical Engineer 30
Metal Fabricator 40 Chemical Engineer 20
General Medical Practitioner 30 Secondary School Teacher 10
Minister Of Religion 20 General Medical Practitioner 10
2008-09 Welder (First Class) 390 Accountant 240
Metal Fabricator 380 Computing Professional * 70
Motor Mechanic 370 Registered Nurse 50
Registered Nurse 360 Office Manager 40
Fitter 230 Project or Program Administrator 40
Construction Rigger 160 Cook 30
Computing Professionals NEC 120 Civil Engineer 30
Civil Engineer 100 Application and Analyst Programmer 30
Cook 100 Electronics Engineer 20
Cook 70 Mechanical Engineer 20

Sourced from internal data collected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
* Within the broad professionals field, where no actual classification exists for the specific occupation.
Table 5: National Geographical Distribution, by country of birth and nationality



Proportion of all persons counted in the Census, 2006 33 25 20 8 10 2 1 2
Proportion of all Philippine born counted in the Census, 2006 48 23 16 5 6 1 2 1
Geographical Distribution, Permanent Additions 2009-10
Skill Stream 20 20 18 10 25 1 5 1
Family Stream 37 20 21 6 10 1 2 1
Geographical Distribution, Temporary Entrants 2009-10
International Students 50 18 14 5 7 0 3 3
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 14 11 23 4 39 1 7 1
Most recent State or Territory of Residents, Emigration
All Philippines born 47 15 19 3 12 0 2 2

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: Philippines’s migration ranking relative to other countries

Philippines 2008-09 2009-10
Philippine born Population in Australia 7 7
General Skilled Migration 7 7
Employer sponsored 5 5
Total Skilled Stream 5 5
Total Family Stream 4 4
International Students 24 22
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 6 5
Visitors 20 20

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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