Australia’s Migration Programme does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion. This means that anyone from any country can apply to migrate, regardless of their ethnic origin, gender or colour, provided they meet the criteria set out in law.
All applications for migration to Australia are assessed against requirements set out in the Migration Act and Regulations. There are different criteria for different categories of visas and the criteria are established to meet Australia’s national interests and needs. The Government determines the criteria and sets the number of people who can enter under the programme on an annual basis. The policies and legislation governing migrant selection are applied equally to all applicants.
The criteria for the Migration Programme are selective—those applicants who meet Australia’s requirements and have good prospects for successful settlement are chosen. There are detailed rules governing entry in each migration category and selection is based on a case-by-case assessment of applications.
Migrants might be selected on the basis of factors such as relationship to an Australian permanent resident or citizen, skills, age, qualifications, capital and business acumen. All applicants must also meet the health and character requirements specified by migration legislation.
If a person satisfies Australia’s selection criteria, they stand an equal chance of being selected, unless there is a cap imposed on the number of visas allocated to a particular category. Fact Sheet – Managing the Migration Programme has more information.
The applicants for permanent entry to Australia must be assessed against Australia’s health and character requirements, which are designed to exclude any people whose presence in Australia would not be in the interest of the Australian community. More information is available in Fact Sheet – The Health Requirement and Fact Sheet – The Character Requirement.
People who might be excluded from entry on character grounds include criminals or associates of criminal organisations, war criminals and any person likely to vilify a segment of the community.
Migrants are selected under the Migration Programme in three streams—skill, family and special eligibility; while the Humanitarian Programme offers resettlement to refugees and to displaced persons who have suffered discrimination amounting to gross violations of their human rights.
The rules for each, in general terms, are as follows:
- Skill—most migrants must satisfy a points test, have particular work skills, be nominated by particular employers, have other links to Australia or have successful business or investment skills and bring sufficient capital to Australia to establish a business or investment of benefit to this country. More information is available in the following fact sheets:
- Family—selected on the basis of the family relationship to a sponsor in Australia—usually partners, fiancés, dependent children and parents. Fact Sheet – Overview of family stream migration has more information.
- Special eligibility—covers former residents who had not acquired Australian citizenship and are seeking to return to Australia as permanent residents. More information is available in Fact Sheet – Special Eligibility Stream.
- Humanitarian—refugees and other Humanitarian Programme arrivals must satisfy the criteria concerning refugees or humanitarian cases. More information is available in Fact Sheet - Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Programme.
More information about migration programme outcomes for 2010-11 to 2013-14 and planning levels for 2014-15 are available.