Three decades ago most immigrants to Australia with work entitlements came as permanent settlers. Today the annual allocation of temporary visas, with work entitlements, outnumbers permanent settler visas by a ratio of three to one. The new environment, with so many temporary visa holders, has led to a two-step immigration policy whereby an increasing proportion of immigrants come first as a temporary immigrant, to work or study, and then seek to move to permanent status. Around one half of permanent visas are allocated on-shore to those who hold temporary visas with work rights. The labour market implications of this new two-step system are substantial. Immigrants from non-English speaking countries (NES), are affected most. In their early years in Australia, they have substantially reduced full-time employment and substantially increased part-time employment, usually while attending an education institution. Three years after arrival one third of NES immigrants are now employed part-time which, rather than unemployment, is becoming their principal pathway to full-time labour market integration. Surprisingly, little has changed for immigrants from English speaking countries (ES).
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