Country Profile: Vietnam


Capital City: Hanoi

Population, 2010: 89 million

Official Language: Vietnamese

Monetary Unit: Vietnamese Dong


1. Overview

The first wave of Vietnamese migration to Australia started in the mid-1970s following the end of the Vietnam War. This resulted in a large influx of refugees. Today the vast majority of Vietnamese migrants come to Australia via the Family Stream which accounted for 8 in every 10 of all Vietnam born permanent additions to Australia in 2009-10.

The Vietnam born community in Australia is estimated at 203 850 and, after the USA, Australia is the second most common destination for Vietnamese migrants. Economic prosperity is a huge driver for emigration (particularly among the educated) and 27.1 per cent of Vietnam’s tertiary-educated population live abroad. Most permanent migration of Vietnamese to Australia however, is family migration. Australia is also a leading study destination for Vietnamese students.

In the early-to-mid 1990s, liberalisation measures resulted in rapidly expanding exports and high economic growth in Vietnam, with real GDP growth averaging 9 per cent per year. Despite solid and continuing real GDP growth, GDP per capita is still comparatively very low. This provides high incentives for Vietnamese nationals to leave in the hope of better opportunities in countries like Australia – where on a purchasing-power parity basis GDP per capita is more than 10 times higher. Lifestyle and a large Vietnamese community will see Australia remaining as a destination choice for many Vietnamese seeking to study, work and live 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

Comparatively, Vietnam’s HDI in 2010 was 0.57, giving the country a rank of 113 out of 169 countries. The HDI of East Asia and the Pacific in 2010 was 0.65, placing Vietnam below the regional average.


2. Community in Australia

At the end of June 2009 there were 203 850 Vietnam born people living in Australia 27 per cent more than was reported in the August 2006 Census of Population and Housing. This is equivalent to 2.3 per cent of Australia’s overseas born population and 0.9 per cent of Australia’s total population.

For Australia’s Vietnam born migrants:

  • Their median age of 41.8 years was four years above that of the general Australian population.
  • Females slightly outnumbered males – 53 per cent compared with 47 per cent.
  • Labour force participation was low, in December 2010 the participation rate of 59 per cent was below the national average of 65 per cent.
  • Unemployment rates are high – in December 2010 Vietnam born persons in Australia reported an unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent, a rate significantly higher than the national rate of 5.0 per cent.*
  • In September 2010 there were 95 000 Vietnamese born working in Australia. The main occupations were professionals (19 per cent), labourers (16 per cent) and machinery operators and drivers (14 per cent).


3. Permanent Migration and Temporary Entry

Summary, 2009-10

Permanent Additions to the Australian Population*

There were 4080 Vietnam born permanent additions to the Australian resident population. Among these new additions:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 16 per cent of all permanent additions and comprised 321 skilled migrants and 348 accompanying family members.
  • The Family Stream, comprised of 3247 family migrants, accounted for 80 per cent of all permanent additions.
  • The remaining 3.6 per cent of all permanent additions were mainly non-program migrants – mostly Vietnam-born migrants who enter Australia as New Zealand citizens, while Humanitarian and Special Eligibility Programs accounted for less than 1 per cent of the total.


Permanent Migration Visas Granted, 2009-10*


There were 3950 Vietnamese nationals that were granted a permanent visa. Among the new permanent visa holders:

  • The Skill Stream accounted for 17 per cent (676 persons) of the permanent visas granted, with employer sponsored migrants accounting for half of these grants.
  • The Family Stream accounted for 83 per cent (3273 persons) of the permanent visas granted, with more than two-thirds entering as the partner (54 per cent) or fiancé (20 per cent) of an Australian resident.

Temporary Entry Visas Granted, 2009-10

Table 3 & 4

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

  • 8376 Student visas were granted, of which two-thirds (67 per cent) were granted to those intending on pursuing an undergraduate or postgraduate course in Australia.
  • 380 Vietnamese workers were granted a Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa, with Skilled Meat Workers as the main occupation for which Australian employers recruited from abroad.
  • 27 931 Visitor visas were granted.


Detailed Analysis

Permanent Migration Visas Granted

Tables 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 Vietnamese nationals accounting for 0.6 per cent (676 grants) of the total. Skilled migration accounted for just under a fifth (17 per cent) of all permanent visas granted to Vietnamese nationals.
  • Total skilled visas granted through the Migration Program were down 6 per cent in 2009-10, but for Vietnamese nationals they were 20 per cent (114 grants) higher.
  • The number of General Skilled Migration* visas granted to Vietnamese nationals has been decreasing in recent years – down from 489 grants in 2007-08, to 297 grants in 2009-10. Over the same period Employer Sponsored migration has grown almost ten fold.
  • Accountants, Computing Professionals and Civil Engineers were among 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 Vietnamese nationals accounting for 5.4 per cent (3273 grants) of the total.
  • In 2009-10 Permanent family visas granted through the Migration Program were 7 per cent higher, but for Vietnamese nationals they were 20 per cent higher – most of this growth evident in partners and parents of Australian residents.
  • The Family Stream accounted for over 8 in every 10 permanent visas granted to Vietnamese nationals in the last year. The largest components within the Family Stream were partners and fiancés (cumulatively accounting for 74 per cent of all family visas granted, with sustained growth evident in the child, parent and other preferential family totals).


Temporary Entry Visas Granted
Tables 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.

  • Vietnam is the nineth largest provider of overseas students to Australia. As at June 2010, there were 16 440 Vietnamese Student visa holders in Australia, representing 4.2 per cent of all international students in Australia.
  • There was a 10 per cent fall in the number of Student visas granted to Vietnamese nationals since 2008-09, less pronounced than the overall fall in student visas of 16 per cent.
  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) of the student visas granted to Vietnamese nationals in 2009-10 were granted to those enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate course in Australia.


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.

  • In 2009-10, there were 380 subclass 457 visas granted to Vietnamese nationals 70 per cent lower than the previous year, and 54 per cent lower than the number granted in 2007-08.
  • Among the foreign workers sponsored under this program, Skilled Meat Workers was the main occupation for which Australian employers recruited from abroad.



In 2009-10, there were 27 931 visitor visas granted to Vietnamese citizens. This was a small increase of almost 3 per cent from 2008-09, which was in line with total growth for visitors to Australia as a whole. Around 75 per cent of these visitors from Vietnam travelled to Australia to visit friends and relatives or to holiday.


4. Emigration*

Table 5

In 2009-10, 1350 Vietnam born permanent residents emigrated from Australia, with 6 in 10 emigrants indicating that they intended returning to Vietnam.

  • Around 14 per cent of these emigrants were professionals, while a further 8 per cent were tradespersons (or similar workers).
  • A majority (59 per cent) were emigrating from New South Wales – which was also the most popular residential State accounting for 40 per cent of Vietnam born residents in Australia during the 2006 Census.
  • New South Wales was over-represented among the emigrant cohort – accounting for 59 per cent of all Vietnam born emigrants but only 40 per cent of Australia’s Vietnamese born population at the time of the census. In comparison Victoria, which is home to 37 per cent of Australia’s Vietnamese born, provided only 21 per cent of emigrants in 2009-10.


5. State and Territory summary

Table 5

New South Wales was the most popular state of residence for Vietnamese persons in Australia. Around 4 in every 10 Vietnam born residents in Australia at the time of the last Census lived in New South Wales, and the State was also the intended residential location for 40 per cent of new family migrants and a quarter of new skilled migrants to Australia in 2009-10. In contract, Vietnamese international students showed a preference for Victoria, with 43 per cent enrolled in an academic institution based in that State, while a third (34 per cent) of all Vietnamese subclass 457 workers were sponsored for employment in Queensland (followed by Western Australia with 22 per cent).


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 – Vietnam

Table 1: Economic and Human Development Indicators, 2010

  Australia Viet Nam
Adult Literacy (%) 99.0 90.3
Fertility Rates (children per female) 1.9 2.0
GDP per capita PPP (current international $) 36 692 3 123
Life Expectancy at birth (years) 81.9 74.9
Mean years of schooling 12 5.5
Human Development Index 0.94 0.57
Median Age (years) 37.8 28.5
Population (millions) 22.3 89.0
Population growth, 2010 (%) 1.7 1.0

* 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

Vietnam 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Skilled Migration
  Business Skills 20 23 16 34
  Distinguished Talent 0 0 0 0
  Employer Sponsored 36 44 119 345
General Skilled Migration*
    Skilled Family Sponsored 137 250 182 72
    Skilled Independent 228 217 187 141
    State/Territory Sponsored Visa Classes 13 22 58 84
Total number of skilled visa grants 434 556 562 676
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%) 12 19 17 17
Family Migration
 Child 79 83 99 96
 Prospective Marriage (fiancé) 865 538 655 676
 Partners 1 638 1 291 1 393 1 754
 Parent 276 208 339 462
 Preferential/Other Family 182 245 237 285
Total – Family visa grants 3 040 2 365 2 723 3 273
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%) 87 81 83 83
Special Eligibility 2 0 0 1
Total – Permanent Migrants 3 476 2 921 3 285 3 950

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

* Please see the Explanatory Notes for definitions of the terms used in this document.

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

Vietnam 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
International Students
   English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students 9 185 349 324
   Schools 957 818 1 106 902
   Vocational and Education Sector 659 631 712 663
   Higher Education 1 654 4 606 6 510 5 644
   Postgraduate 198 234 328 377
   Non-Award 15 29 41 53
   AusAID or Defence 353 375 343 413
   Total number of international student visa grants 3 845 6 878 9 389 8 376
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) 790 830 1 270 380
   Tourist 8 291 10 636 10 538 12 858
   Business Visitor 4 812 8 252 7 508 7 180
   Sponsored Family 3 571 7 994 9 122 7 893
   Total – Visitor visa grants 16 674 26 882 27 168 27 931

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

Vietnam Business Long Stay (subclass 457) General Skilled Migration
Temporary Entry (employer sponsored) Permanent Entry (unsponsored)
2009-10 Skilled Meat Worker 30 Accountant 50
Minister of Religion 10 Computing Professional * 20
Baker 10 Civil Engineer 20
Software Engineer 10 Electronics Engineer 10
Software and Applications Programmers NEC 10 Registered Nurse 10
Chef 10 Mechanical Engineer 10
Marketing Specialist < 5 Retail Pharmacist 10
Resident Medical Officer < 5 Marketing Specialist 0
Cook < 5 Business and Information Professionals NEC 0
Geologist < 5 Cook 0
2008-09 Skilled Meat Worker 220 Accountant 20
Chef 60 Computing Professional * 30
Baker 30 Hairdresser 20
Welder (First Class) 30 Cook 10
Cook 10 Economist 10
Electrical Engineer 10 Business and Information Professionals NEC 0
Minister of Religion 10 Cook 0
Research and Development Manager 10 Environmental Research Scientist 0
Software Designer <5 Primary School Teacher 0
Computing Professionals NEC <5 Biochemist 0

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 Vietnam born counted in the Census, 2006 40 37 8 7 7 0 0 1
Geographical Distribution, Permanent Additions 2009-10
Skill Stream 26 25 22 8 13 2 1 2
Family Stream 40 36 10 5 7 0 1 1
Geographical Distribution, Temporary Entrants 2009-10
International Students 32 43 10 5 6 1 0 3
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 20 18 34 4 22 1 0 1
All Vietnam born 59 21 8 2 7 0 0 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: Vietnam’s migration ranking relative to other countries

Vietnam 2008-09 2009-10
Vietnamese born Population in Australia 6 6
General Skilled Migration 23 26
Employer sponsored 31 19
Total Skilled Stream 27 23
Total Family Stream 5 5
International Students 9 9
Business Long Stay (subclass 457) visa 19 25
Visitors 22 22

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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