UK top source country for NZ migrant workers

The UK is the top source country for migrant workers in New Zealand, new figures show.

According to newly released data, NZ work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year.

And the UK is by far and away the top source country for migrant workers, with 16.6 per cent of all New Zealand’s temporary foreign work force hailing from Britain. This is twice as many as the second most popular source country, Germany, which provided 8.8 per cent of foreign workers in the country.

Australia, South Africa and the United States round up the top five source countries.

Interestingly, despite China and India being among the biggest source countries for permanent residents, they are not among the most popular for direct migrant workers.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley told the New Zealand Herald that this is because migrant workers from Asian countries were less likely to get direct access to New Zealand on skilled work visa.

“They are more likely to transition to permanent residence through temporary work and study visa routes using options such as the transition to work provisions,” he explained. “Given the penetration, and now ownership, by Australians of industries and companies, a significant component of Australian migration to New Zealand will involve middle and senior managers, as well as certain experts, for these companies.”

In the year to the end of February, migrant arrivals to New Zealand hit a new record high of 71,333. Excluding New Zealand and Australian citizens, most arrivals in the year to February (43,025) were on work visas.

The government last week announced changes to policy to tighten immigration, focusing on changes in the work visa skilled migrant category. It was announced that migrants will need to earn more than NZ$49,000 to qualify for the skilled migrant visa from now on.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the changes were aimed at increasing the quality of migrants, and not reducing numbers.

Article published 26th April 2017