Australian Temporary Visa Holder Statistics December 31, 2022

The Australian Department of Home Affairs publishes data via the Australian Bureau of Statistics on temporary visa holders in Australia. The most recent data comes from December 31, 2022 and it makes for interesting reading on:

  • The vastly improved processing of visas by Home Affairs since the change of government (massive drop in bridging visas)
  • the recovery in temporary visa holders in Australia with work rights, post borders reopening.

Australia’s unemployment rate was just 3.7% in January 2023 and yet anecdotal evidence from discussions with vSure customers (typically some of Australia’s largest employers) in early 2023 is that the staffing shortages have dramatically changed, with fewer clients reporting issues finding staff.


On the surface, there were 2.39m visa holders in Australia as at December 31, 2022 compared to the pre-COVID benchmark of December 31, 2019 of 2.4m. This points to full recovery after 3 years of COVID related suppression. The breakdown by visa class makes for interesting reading – particularly when you look relative to working rights.

Visitor Visas In Australia

Visitor visas, for whom do not have work rights in Australia, were at 635,816 as at 31 December 2019 and have recovered to 530,283 as 31 December 2022, despite airlines still not operating at pre-COVID level and airfares being significantly more expensive than 3 years ago.

Working Holiday Visas Australia

Checking the stats on 417 and 462 working holiday visas, which peaked at 141,000 as at December 31, 2019 and bottomed at 19,324 2 years later – we had 112,335 working holiday visas in Australia as at 31 December 2022 – showing significant momentum in the working holiday visas coming into Australia.

Assessing the quarterly trend:

Our expectation is that there is a pent-up demand for Working Holiday Makers (WHM) in Australia created by the COVID border closures. With 30% cap increases on countries with 462s through to June 30 2023 and the changes afoot to UK 417s (age limit increase to 35 and 3 year visas rather than 1), we expect that on current trends, WHM arrivals should continue to exceed departures at least through until the end of the June Quarter, even beyond. This should see a peak of close to 200,000 WHM we suspect.

Student Visas

Student visas have recovered from a low of 315,949 as at December 31 2021, to 456,970 as at December 31, 2022, BUT this is a long way short of the peak of 633,816 as at September 30 2019. BUT it is worth noting this data pre-dates the Chinese government’s mandate on in-person degrees.

In summary, the trend in Students returning is solid, but not as dramatic a recovery as Working Holiday Makers. We also doubt that Australia will regain the pre-COVID level student numbers for many years:

Bridging Visas

Bridging Visas show signs the department of Home Affairs is finally getting in top of visa applications, with a dramatic decrease in the final quarter of 2022. There were 179,921 as at June 30 2019 rising to a whooping 369,182 come September 30 2022! The December quarter saw this number decline to 203,494 – a massive 44% drop in just 1 quarter!!

Skilled employment visas

Then there’s the temporary resident, skilled employment visas, they dropped from 143,000 as at June 30 2019, to 94,500 over the subsequent 3 years, zapping another 50,000 workers from out labour market! This has now recovered marginally to 105,319 as at December 31, 2022.

The New Norm

As you can see from the above, Working Holiday Makers are back and still flooding in! Students are coming and we expect the Chinese government ruling will accelerate the trend. Skilled visas are kind of recovering, but slowly (despite government policies). Bridging visas have fallen off a cliff!

Here’s the full break-down courtesy of

BP0019 Number of Temporary visa holders in Australia 2022-12-31