Net migration swelled New Zealand’s population by a record 67,619 in the 2016 March year. Quite a change from the 2012 March year, which recorded an annual net migration loss of 3,383. What happened?
Since 2012, about half this annual increase is from fewer New Zealanders departing for Australia and more returning from there. What about the balance?
A look at changes in visa applications granted can tell us something. The number of Student visa holders entering the country each year increased by 11,553 since the 2012 March year and that for work visa holders increased by 14,683.
A migrant must be granted a residence visa to settle, even if previously the migrant had some other kind of visa. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment reports, in “Migration Trends and Outlook 2014/2015” that about 49 per cent of resident visa holders are sourced from Skilled and Business visa holders. Many of the Skilled category are former Student and Work visa holders.
In the 2012 March year residence visas covered 13,005 people compared with 14,735 in the 2016 March year. So the net increase in migrants who are Student and Work visa holders is not yet showing up in resident visas subsequently granted.
Will the growth in Student and Work visas translate into similar growth for Residence visas? We shall have to wait and see.