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There are thousands of people seeking asylum living in the Australian community. Some of these people have come to Australia by plane, and sought asylum afterwards. Some of them have come to Australia by boat. The way they came affects whether they are detained, the conditions of their visas, and how their claim for protection is determined.

It also affects the way statistics are reported. There are very few current statistics on people who came by plane. There are more detailed statistics on people who came by boat, but its publication has varied over time.

Most of the statistics on this page come from the Department of Home Affairs (formerly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection), which publishes details for people who came by boat living in the community on a ‘Bridging Visa E’, which is the type of visa they are living on in the community. This has been published somewhat irregularly over the past few years, and provides statistics on where people are living in their community, including their gender, age, and nationality. This page includes the statistics as at 31 March 2018, with the next report due for July 2018.

This data overlaps with some of the same data reported in the fast-tracking statistics now published by the Department, which are published monthly. Other statistics come from answers to questions on notice to Senate estimates.

Column graph showing numbers of permanent protection applications and grants

People seeking asylum by plane

While this data used to be reported by the Department, it no longer reports this in its published statistics or through its annual report. However, a recent answer to a question on notice at Senates estimates indicates that the numbers of people seeking asylum by plane has been increasing. The question asked for the numbers of permanent protection visas applied for, and granted, in the past few financial years. Since December 2014, people who seek asylum by boat, and those who come by plane without valid visas, are not eligible for permanent protection visas. This also affected those who came earlier and whose claims had not been finalised. The figures for the financial years 2015-2016 onward therefore reflect only people who came by plane with valid visas and later sought asylum.

These figures show a significant increase in the number of asylum claims by those coming by plane, and a declining rate of grant. In the last full financial year, there were 18,290 applications, but only 1,711 visas granted.

Who is coming by plane?

The same question on notice also asked for the top 10 nationalities for people seeking asylum by plane, and the top 10 nationalities of those seeking asylum by plane who succeeded in their claim for protection.

The top 10 nationalities of those who seek asylum by plane are quite different from those who come by boat, with many more from our surrounding Asia-Pacific neighbours. In the past five years, the main nationalities seeking asylum by plane include those from China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Those who succeed, however, tend to be from Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya.

Top 10 nationalities granted protection who came by plane

2012/132013/142014/152015/162016/172017/18 (YTD)1
PakistanPakistanPakistanIraqIraqIraq
IranEgyptIraqLibyaPakistanPakistan
EgyptIranIranPakistanLibyaLibya
China, Peoples Republic ofLibyaChina, Peoples Republic ofAfghanistanIranIran
IraqChina, Peoples Republic ofEgyptChina, Peoples Republic ofChina, Peoples Republic ofChina, Peoples Republic of
LibyaIraqLibyaIranAfghanistanMalaysia
SyriaAfghanistanAfghanistanSyriaSyriaSyria
Sri LankaLebanonSyriaLebanonEgyptBangladesh
FijiIndiaPapua New GuineaEgyptLebanonLebanon
ZimbabwePapua New GuineaTurkeyPapua New GuineaPapua New GuineaEgypt

Top 10 nationalities claiming asylum by plane

2012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-20172017-2018 (to 31 January 2018)
China, People's Republic ofChina, People's Republic ofMalaysiaMalaysiaMalaysiaChina, People's Republic of
IndiaIndiaChina, People's Republic ofChina, People's Republic ofChina, People's Republic ofMalaysia
PakistanPakistanPakistanIndiaIndiaIndia
EgyptFijiIndiaIraqVietnamVietnam
IranEgyptIraqPakistanPakistanThailand
LebanonIranLibyaFijiIraqPakistan
IraqLibyaFijiVietnamIndonesiaIndonesia
LibyaLebanonIranIndonesiaFijiFiji
FijiNepalLebanonIranTaiwanBangladesh
BangladeshMalaysiaBangladeshBangladeshThailandTaiwan
Pie chart showing people granted bridging visa Es by category

People seeking asylum by boat

On 31 March 2018, there were 18,325 people who had sought asylum in Australia by boat and were in the community, having been released on a Bridging Visa E.

However, 1,815 were recorded as being in the community waiting for the grant of further Bridging Visa E. This means that these people do not currently have lawful permission to stay in the community, and do not have current rights to work, study or access Medicare. This often happens because of delays in the administrative process of renewing a visa. In some cases, this is because their visas can only be renewed after the Minister personally allows for the grant of a further visa.

In an answer to a question on notice at Senate estimates, the Department stated that on 31 January 2018, there were 29,166 people on a Bridging Visa E. Of those, 6,790 of those people did not have the right to work lawfully in the community.

Pie chart showing people by State or Territory

Where are they living?

Of the 18,325 people who came seeking asylum by boat in our community at 31 March 2018, more than 80% were living either in Victoria (7,891 people) or NSW (7,234 people). 1,220 people were living in Queensland, and another 1,016 were living in South Australia, with 717 people in WA. There were relatively few in the ACT, Tasmania and Northern Territory.

The more frequently updated fast-tracking statistics also break down the numbers of people living in different States or Territories, although it focuses on a smaller group of people known as the ‘Legacy Caseload’, so the numbers do not match.

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Bar chart showing numbers by postcode

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in NSW. Most are from Iran, Sri Lanka, stateless, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

Bar chart showing nationalities of people in NSW

How old are they?

This graph shows the age groups of people living in NSW. As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35.

Column chart showing age groups for people in NSW

Are they male or female?

Most of them (85%) are male, with only 15% of them female.

Pie chart showing proportion of males to females in NSW

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Bar graph showing where people live by postcode in Victoria

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in Victoria. Most are from Iran, Sri Lanka, stateless, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

Bar graph showing people by citizenship in Victoria

How old are they?

This graph shows the age groups of people living in Victoria. As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35.

Column chart showing age groups in Victoria

Are they male or female?

Three-quarters are male, with a quarter of them female.

Pie chart showing gender in Victoria

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Bar chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in Queensland

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in Queensland. Most are from Iran, Sri Lanka, stateless, Vietnam or Afghanistan.

Bar chart showing people on bridging visa E by citizenship in Queensland

How old are they?

This graph shows the age groups of people living in Queensland. As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35.

Are they male or female?

Over two-thirds are male, with 28% of them female.

Pie chart showing gender in Queensland

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Bar chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in South Australia

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in South Australia. Most are from Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or stateless.

Bar chart showing people on bridging visas E by nationality in South Australia

How old are they?

This graph shows the age groups of people living in South Australia. As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35.

Are they male or female?

Most (70%) are male, with 30% of them female.

Pie chart showing gender in Queensland

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Bar chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in WA

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in Western Australia. Most are from Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or stateless.

Column chart showing people on bridging visas E by age in South Australia

How old are they?

This graph shows the age groups of people living in Western Australia. As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35.

Column chart showing people on bridging visas E by age in Western Australia

Are they male or female?

Most (85%) are male, with 15% of them female.

Pie chart showing gender in WA

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode. There is only one postcode in Tasmania where there are more than 10 people seeking asylum on a Bridging Visa E.

Column chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in Tasmania

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in Tasmania. There are 14 people from Iran and 10 people from Afghanistan, and a mix of other nationalities.

Column chart showing people on bridging visas E by nationality in Tasmania

How old are they, and are they male or female?

As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35, and mostly male. Because the numbers for most age groups are under 10, we have not created a graph here. Similarly, because the number of females is under 10, we have not shown a graph here.

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Column chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in ACT

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in the ACT. Most are from Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan.

Column chart showing people on bridging visas E by nationality in ACT

How old are they?

As there are fewer than 10 people in most age groups, a graph is not included here. However, consistently with the national trend, most of the people are young, with many under 35.

Are they male or female?

Most (80%) are male, with 20% of them female.

Pie chart showing gender in ACT

These pages show statistics, by State and Territory, of people who came seeking asylum by boat and who are living in our community on a Bridging E Visa (including those waiting for a grant of a new Bridging E visa). Click on the tabs on the left to navigate to your State or Territory.

Where they are living

This graph shows where people are living by postcode.

Column chart showing people on bridging visa E by postcode in NT

Where do they come from?

This graph shows the nationalities of people living in the Northern Territory. There are 37 people from Sri Lanka and 30 people from Vietnam, and a mix of other nationalities.

Column chart showing people on bridging visas E by nationality in NT

How old are they?

As with the population generally, they are mostly young, with most under 35, and mostly male. Because the numbers for most age groups are under 10, we have not created a graph here.

Are they male or female?

Overwhelmingly, they are male, with only 18% of them being female.

Pie chart showing gender in NT