Migration Trends & Outlook 2008/09
The global economic slowdown has affected migration trends across the OECD...
In recent years, employment growth has been strong in OECD countries, and migrant labour has played a large part in this growth. The global economic slowdown has resulted in decreased demand for labour. In response, many governments have moved to make policy changes to lessen the impact on locally born populations.
...but the New Zealand Government has not had to intervene as much as many other OECD countries.
New Zealand immigration policies tend to be responsive to change, so the Government has generally not responded to the changing economic situation by changing its policies. A regular review of the occupational shortage lists meant several occupations that were no longer deemed to meet the policy requirements were removed from the lists.
Although unemployment in New Zealand has risen rapidly, the rate here is still quite low compared with other OECD countries.
New Zealand's unemployment rate has risen to 6.0 percent, a modest rise compared with some OECD countries. It is likely the unemployment rate in New Zealand will rise further in 2009/10.
New Zealand still has immediate and long-term skill shortages in many areas and still needs skilled migrants to meet these shortages.
Sixty-two percent of residence approvals through the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) in 2008/09 were in the Skilled/Business Stream. Most of these approvals were in the Skilled Migrant Category (in which 27,011 applications were approved). Eighty percent of principal applicants (the main person listed on a residence application) in the Skilled Migrant Category were approved with a skilled job or offer of employment.
The impact of the global economic slowdown on New Zealand's temporary migration flows has been mixed...
The global economic slowdown, the recession in New Zealand, the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak, emerging markets for export education, and fluctuations in the currency have had quite different impacts on the various temporary migration flows.
...with fewer opportunities for new migrants to enter New Zealand's labour market...
Many temporary migrants who come to New Zealand to work gain entry through policies that are labour market-tested (such as the Essential Skills Policy). That is, workers generally need to have a job offer to work here. With the rise in unemployment, there has been less demand for temporary migrant workers. Also, decline rates through the Essential Skills Policy have increased as able and appropriately skilled New Zealanders become available to work.
...and fewer tourists visiting from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Tourism from many of New Zealand's key markets has fallen because of the economic slowdown and the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. In particular, 15 percent fewer visitors arrived from Asia. The impact on tourism from Europe and the Americas was not as severe. People visiting New Zealand came from the same top five source countries; however, the overall number of visitors from these five countries decreased in 2008/09.
In contrast, export education remains strong.
About 74,000 international students were approved to study in 2008/09-6 percent more than in the previous year. Traditionally, students have come to New Zealand from China, South Korea, and Japan. The numbers from these countries are falling, but other countries are emerging as important sources of international students. In 2008/09, 8,200 students from India were approved to study here, a 42 percent increase from the previous year.
In 2008/09, 46,097 people were granted permanent residence, mostly from onshore, and mostly through the Skilled/Business Stream.
Most people granted permanent residence in 2008/09 (62 percent) came through the Skilled/Business Stream. And most applications for permanent residence (81 percent) were made onshore (that is, the applicants were already in New Zealand). The number of onshore applications has been increasing in the past decade.
The United Kingdom is still the largest source country of people granted permanent residence.
Nineteen percent of residence approvals in 2008/09 were from the United Kingdom. The other main source countries were China (15 percent) and South Africa (12 percent). Notably, approvals from the Philippines increased from 2 percent in 2005/06 to 8 percent in 2008/09, making it the fourth-largest source country for residence approvals.
A growing number of international students are staying in New Zealand permanently when they finish studying.
Fifteen percent of people who gained permanence residence in 2008/09 were previously on student permits, while another 59 percent were previously on work permits. Many students transition to work permits and then gain residence as skilled migrants. In 2008/09, 30 percent of skilled migrants gained points for recognised New Zealand qualifications, up from 25 percent in 2007/08.
Many family-sponsored migrants in 2008/09 came from China.
In 2008/09, China was the largest source country of residence approvals in both the Uncapped Family Sponsored Stream (16 percent) and the Parent Sibling Adult Child Stream (28 percent).
Thirty percent of all residence approvals (14,046 people) were through the Uncapped Family Sponsored and Parent Sibling Adult Child streams.
New Zealand remains committed to its international obligations regarding refugees.
Applications through the Refugee Policy take priority in the International/Humanitarian Stream. In 2008/09, 757 people were approved for residence under the Refugee Quota programme. Myanmar was the largest source country of Refugee Quota programme approvals (24 percent). A smaller group of refugees (207 people) was granted residence after first seeking asylum in New Zealand.
Although migration flows have been affected by the global economic slowdown, migration remains important to New Zealand...
Migration continues to play a role in attracting skills and labour into sectors where skill shortages persist, and will increase in importance as economies recover.
...and New Zealand remains an attractive destination for migrants.
New Zealand's lifestyle, environment, and relative safety are unique advantages that continue to make it a competitive destination for both temporary and permanent migrants.