This annual report is the 15th in a series that examines trends in temporary and permanent migration to and from New Zealand. The report updates trends to 2014/15 and compares recent immigration patterns with patterns identified in previous years.
Canterbury returns to normal
Canterbury had the second highest regional net migration gain of 6,400 people. A net outflow of permanent and long-term migrants followed the earthquake in February 2011, but since 2011/12 the number of arrivals has steadily increased. Although the number of people approved for Essential Skills work visas in Canterbury in 2014/15 increased, it was a much smaller increase than in the previous three years, suggesting the rebuild might have reached capacity.
Net migration continues to grow
A net migration gain of 58,300 people occurred in 2014/15, the highest net gain ever recorded. This was due to a low net migration loss of New Zealand citizens (5,600 people) combined with a large net gain of non–New Zealand citizens (63,900 people). Net migration is forecast to rise slightly until September 2015 before dropping back.
International student numbers on the increase again
A total of 84,856 international students were approved to study in New Zealand, an increase of 16 per cent from 2013/14, the second year-on-year increase. China has remained the largest source country of international students (27 per cent) followed by India (23 per cent) and South Korea (6 per cent).
Numbers of temporary workers increased across the three main work categories
A total of 170,814 people were granted a work visa, an increase of 10 per cent from 2013/14. Those approved to work in New Zealand under the Essential Skills policy rose 8 per cent from 2013/14. This was the third year-on-year increase in Essential Skills workers since the global financial crisis, and it reflects the ongoing demand for labour in New Zealand.
One in six international students gained residence
International students have become an important source of skilled migrants for New Zealand and in other OECD countries. By 30 June 2015, 17 per cent of students had transitioned to residence five years after their first student visa. In 2014/15, 43 per cent of skilled principal migrants were former international students.
Skilled principal migrants largely have New Zealand work experience
Research shows migrants have better employment outcomes if they have New Zealand work experience. By 30 June 2015, 18 per cent of temporary workers had transitioned to residence three years after their first work visa
In 2014/15, 43,085 people were approved for resident visas, down 2 per cent from 2013/14. The increase in those approved under the Skilled/Business stream (6 per cent increase) was not enough to offset the decrease in those coming through the Family stream (down 14 per cent).
India is the largest source of skilled migrants
In 2014/15, 21,165 people were approved through the Skilled Migrant Category, almost half of all residence approvals (49 per cent). The number of Skilled Migrant Category approvals increased 4 per cent from 2013/14.
China is the largest source country of family-sponsored migrants
In 2014/15, 8,922 people were approved for residence through the Partnership Category and 4,477 people were approved through the Parent Category. Family approvals made up 35 per cent of all residence approvals.
Around half of International/Humanitarian Stream approvals were from Pacific countries
Over 1,400 people were approved residence through the Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category in 2014/15, with Samoa and Tonga being the largest source countries of approvals.