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South Africans under Top-10 most successful Australian visa applicants

New data shows that migrants from South Africa are some of the most successful Australian visa applicants.  In fact South Africa placed 8th on the rankings of countries for migrants entering Australia. Statistic data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics support this finding.  We looked at the profile of the typical South African migrant in Australia, and we must admit, it’s no wonder Saffas, as South Africans are affectionately known in Australia, are so popular.

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The data showed that South African migrant popularity really established itself around 2006 when the Australian government had at that point already approved more than 111 000 South African visa applications.  In the ten years to follow another 70 000 South Africans joined that figure so that by 2016 well over 180 000 South Africans were living and working in Australia.

We have a bit of a history

Links between South Africa and Australia date back to the earliest days of European settlement, when food and livestock were supplied from the Cape of Good Hope to the British penal colony in Australia. Australia's first vine stock also came from South Africa.

In the 1850’s the discovery of gold attracted European and South African settlers.  In the 1901 Census recorded 1500 South African born people living in Australia.  The number grew slowly and by the time the 1933 census was concluded 6179 South Africa-born people called Australia home.  Political tension in South Africa during the 1970’ and 1980’s spurred on an immigration wave and by 1986 just over 37 000 South Africans had left their country of birth to pursue a new life in Australia.

The profile of a typical Saffa


The 2011 Census recorded 145 683 living in Australia.  More than 40 000 South Africans were living in New South Wales followed by Queensland (35 549), Western Australia (35 327) and Victoria (24 447).  The balance are scattered over the continent

Age and gender:

Census data also revealed that South African migrants were, on average 39 years old with the biggest portion, 37 per cent, being between 25 and 44 years old.  Half of migrants are male and half are female.

Mother Tongue:

More than three times as many spoke English at home than those who spoke Afrikaans.  Nearly 37 000 South African born migrants living in Australia at the time of the 2011 census said they spoke a language other than English at home, 97.5 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 1 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.

Median Income:

South Africans commanded a much higher salary than other migrants and even Aussies themselves.

At the time of the 2011 census the median individual weekly income for the South Africa-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $882, compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.



South Africans in Australia were, and still are, higher qualified and educated than other migrants and even Australians. 

The 2011 census found that 70.1 per cent of the South Africa-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population. Of the South Africa-born aged 15 years and over, 10.5 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.


South Africans mostly migrated to Australia with a job offer in hand or possessed a skill set that would make them instantly employable as such 76 percent of all South Africans living in Australia are employed and contributing to Australia. Info published on the Australia Bureau of Statistics’ website,, showed that this figure was 11 per cent lower in the case of Australian-born citizens.



Source: Sydney Morning Herald, dss,

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Australia South Africa migration migrants