Australian immigration - US and UK top sources for overstayers

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Many people may be surprised to know that British and American nationals make up the greatest number of overstayers, according to a new report released by Australia's Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

The report on immigration trends released by Australia's Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone on January 20 found that on June 30 2004 there were 10,000 Britons and Americans who had overstayed their visas and were in Australia illegally. The next biggest groups were 3,900 Chinese, 3,000 Indonesians and 2,800 South Koreans. People from Middle Eastern countries hardly appeared in the statistics at all despite being at the centre of numerous illegal immigration controversies over the past few years.

However, American and British nationals are still regarded as low risk groups. This is because the number of visa infringers from these countries is a small proportion of the total number of entrants to Australia, and many of those on the wrong side of the immigration laws have only overstayed their visas by a matter of days or weeks.

The report also presents other data about immigration to Australia. Australia's population reached 20.1 million at the end of June 2004, an increase of 238,600 compared with 12 months earlier. This growth consisted of 121,000 due to natural increases in the population, and net migration of 117,600 people to Australia. The report estimates that by the middle of the 21st century the population will be 26 to 27 million.

29,000 skilled workers left Australia permanently last year, but this was more than compensated for by 44,000 skilled immigrants. One quarter of the Australian workforce was born overseas, with the tope three pre-migration occupations being computer professionals, accountants and managers/ administrators.

The biggest source of migrants is the UK, followed by New Zealand.