Immigration, Emigration and Migration: Australia and UK Compared

Let’s start this post with some definitions otherwise things might get a little confusing.

  • Immigration: means move ‘IN’ to a country.
  • Emigration: means move out or ‘EXIT’ a country.
  • Migration: is the act of ‘MOVING’ from one place to another.

All are for periods longer than a holiday; otherwise it’s just called a holiday.

A Holiday

A Holiday

I say all this because I think you might need it in a minute, but I haven’t just done it for you, I’ve done it for myself as well. I get confused with these words also. But armed with the above definitions I can now confidently say…

My name is Bob, I am an Australian immigrant having emigrated from the UK; I migrated in 2007. I think.

On with the post.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) Statistical Bulletin

Yes, on 28 November 2013 the above UK governmental department came out with their latest report regarding migration statistics for the UK.

So, who’s moving there and from where? Or, now we’ve got our words straight, of those who are migrating, who are immigrating to the UK and where are they emigrating from?

For 2012 the top five countries from which people arrived were:

  1. China: 40,000 (8.7% of all immigrants)
  2. India: 37,000 (8.0% of all immigrants)
  3. Poland: 29,000 (6.3% of all immigrants)
  4. US: 29,000 (6.3% of all immigrants)
  5. Australia: 27,000 (5.8% of all immigrants)

China finds itself at number one in the list for the first time ever knocking India off of that top slot in the process. In 2011, 61,000 immigrants came from India so there is a significant fall in numbers there.

What is even more significant from our point of view is that Australia is now only in fifth place. If we were to go back to 2002, Australia were in top position ahead of China, US, South Africa and Germany. Back in those days, Aussies would travel to the UK to earn more money; after all, one GBP would buy you three Aussie dollars around that time.

Since 2007 though, when the pound started to plummet, Aussies have been heading back home to Australia.

Top five destinations for those leaving the UK:

  1. Australia: 48,000 (16.1% emigrants)
  2. US: 19,000 (6.4% of all emigrants)
  3. India: 17,000 (5.7% of all emigrants)
  4. China: 16,000 (5.4% of all emigrants)
  5. France: 15,000 (5% of all emigrants)

So, Australia is still the top destination for those quitting the UK, a position it has held since 1997. The numbers obviously change though; here they are for the last five years:

  • 2008 – 56,000
  • 2009 – 56,000
  • 2010 – 39,000
  • 2011 – 49,000
  • 2012 – 48,000

All in all, 503,000 people immigrated to the UK during 2012, 320,000 emigrated from the UK leaving a net migration figure of +183,000 for the UK.

Figures in Australia

Arrivals for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 were:

  1. India – 29,018
  2. China – 25,509
  3. UK     – 25,274

It should be noted here that these figures are for “permanent residents moving to Australia” whereas the above UK figures are for “destinations of next residence” for which no permanency is implied. In other words, the UK figures include those coming to Australia on temporary residencies, explaining the difference between 25,274 and 48,000.

For more details on those Australian figures, see my post called List of Top Nationalities Migrating to Australia 2011/12.


POMS are still heading down under from the UK but not so many Aussies are making a beeline for old Blighty these days.

That was easy, wasn’t it?

If you would like to see the full 37 page report, click which will directly open the PDF.

Visa Assessment Service
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Marie January 25, 2018, 7:53 am |

    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for your website and the wealth of info on here.

    Do you know if anyone has had any problem getting citezinship in Australia because they didn’t go to the state that nominated them on their original visa application?


    • BobinOz January 25, 2018, 8:46 pm |

      No I don’t Marie, but that is not to say it doesn’t happen. I suspect there may be a risk of problems, but I just don’t know.

  • Barry February 13, 2015, 6:57 pm |


    Looking to move to Aus, Iam 45 and my wife is 41 and qualified hairdresser and salon owner, she has been working in hairdressing for the last 9 years and still is. Been told we can get PR but really would like a good agent to assist with the visas etc. Do you know of any good agents who are MARA registered who can assist? Preferably a UK based one only because of the time difference but if you were to feel a Australian one would be better then would consider that. Thanks.

    • BobinOz February 16, 2015, 1:21 pm |

      Hi Barry

      Yes, I do have my very own MARA registered migration agent working with me on this website, if you would like to use him it all starts with an assessment…

      Visa Assessment Service

      Of course, he is based here in Australia, but these day it’s just not necessary to have face-to-face meetings, everything is done electronically via email and telephone/Skype.

      He is very experienced and knows what he’s doing, I highly recommend him. Good luck, Bob

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.