NZ sees sharp drop in permanent residents

New Zealand has seen a sharp drop in the number of permanent residents settling in the country, although temporary visa holder numbers are rising.

New figures show that the overall number of new permanent residents fell from 47,684 to 37,948 in the last financial year. Almost three-quarters of this decline was attributed to a drop in skilled immigrants.

In the same period, however, the number of temporary work visas issued rose by 4,000 to take the overall number of short-term workers in the country to more than 230,000.

The opposition National Party’s Immigration spokesman, and former Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, says that this is the opposite of what the government said it will do.Tourist woman at lake Tekapo, New Zealand

“So we have this almost perverse trend at the moment where we’re getting very high numbers and increasing number of lower skilled workers coming in on temporary visas but lower numbers of higher skilled workers gaining residence,” he said.

“That’s a significant drop at a time when our economy most needs skilled migrants.”

Association for Migration and Investment chair, June Ranson, also believes that the NZ government has to find a way to encourage more people to become permanent residents.

“They have made it tougher on people trying to get residence but I think in some respects this is going to backfire,” she said. “Employers need these people and while people may be happy to come in on work visas there’s an expectation that they can, in fact, progress to residence.”

Current Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said he is looking at ways of encouraging more skilled immigrants to become permanent residents.

Article published 18th January 2019