However, since the mid 1990s attitudes have changed in Australia and it has been recognised that in the context of globalised labour markets it is essential to have mechanisms to allow non-permanent entry of workers in certain skilled groups in shortage in Australia (e.g. nurses, engineers) and it has introduced a suite of temporary-residence visa categories. The temporary migration program has an even greater focus on skill than the permanent settlement program.
The numbers reflecting those arriving and their various temporary visa categories are presented in the figure.
The Temporary Business Entry Visa (457 "business long stay", see
61.390 new applications were lodged and in mid-2008 there were 134.238 people in the 457 designation working in Australia. The onset of the global financial crisis saw the number of new applications fall to 54.810 in 2008-09.The largest, and most rapidly increasing, inflow of temporary migrants with the right to work in Australia has been of foreign students. In mid-2008 there were 317.897 foreign students resident in Australia, with 80.2 percent being from Asia. This inflow brought an estimated A$15.5 billion into Australia in 2008, which makes it the third largest export earner after mining and tourism. Australia, with around a fifth of its university population made up of foreign students, has one of the highest such proportions for any country. Students can work for up to 20 hours during term time and full time during breaks. They can and do often apply for permanent residence after completion of their studies.
The Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program has also reached record levels, with 154.148 arrivals in 2007-08, doubling in the last 10 years and increasing by 15 percent over the previous year. The WHM program is a reciprocal one that allows young people (aged 18-30 years) from 19 nations to have working holidays in Australia for periods of up to a year. The fact that WHMs fill some important niches in the labour market, such as in harvesting, tourist activity and restaurants, has been recognised by recent legislation allowing WHMs to extend their stay in Australia if they work in particular areas of labour shortage.
A distinctive feature of the temporary migration program is that it is restricted to skilled workers. However, an initiative of the new Labour government