The number of arrivals in New Zealand of foreign nationals rose highly in 2017 to give the country its highest increase in net migration ever.
The island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean saw a net increase of 72,300 long-term and permanent migrants in 2016-17, an increase of 4.7 percent compared to the year prior to it, revealed the annual Migration Trends report released on 29 March.
For work visas, it is also said to be the seventh year-on-year hike as there were 152,432 people working temporarily in New Zealand on 30 June 2017, or 16 percent more than the year prior to it.
On the other hand, the number of new overseas students had fallen by about three percent, reducing the total student visa holder numbers to 75,578, or one percent less than the same period in its previous year.
Professor Paul Spoonley, a Massey University sociologist, was quoted by New Zealand Herald as saying that the net growth of immigrants had risen for the fifth year in a row.
He said that this happened even as the Australasian country suspended some visa categories – put in place tougher conditions by increasing points and decreasing for skilled migrants minimum wage levels – tougher vetting of documents for applicants of student visas.
Despite adopting a more deterring approach, the number of people arriving and net migration remained very strong. Statistics New Zealand’s figures showed that net migration fell only by 200 since its previous year.
About 25 percent of all permanent arrivals and 57 percent of all people exiting the country were nationals of New Zealand.
Spoonley said that a more important aspect of the increase in recent years, however, was the outcome of arrivals of non-New Zealand immigrants.
The work visas issued grew by 34 percent and in essential skills visas, family work visas and working holiday scheme visas, they rose by 17 percent, 12 percent and eight percent, respectively. Approvals of new work visas rose by eight percent more than the year prior to it.
Spoonley said the growing number of work visas showed rising issues of labour supply and dependence on immigrant workers in some sectors.
He said that these temporary labourers were crucial for two reasons, they meet crucial workforce shortages and a pool is provided from which permanent residents are sourced.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said that industries, where there were genuine skills shortages, will be allowed to hire migrant workers. He added that new visas were being considered such as Exceptional Skills visas for talented people and a KiwiBuild visa for hiring foreign workers for residential construction firms to train New Zealanders.
The fall in student visas was seen mostly from India (32 percent), though they marginally were made up for by five percent increase in Chinese students.