Trends and outlook 2015/16
This annual report is the 16th in a series that examines trends in temporary and permanent migration to and from New Zealand. The report updates trends to 2015/16 and compares recent immigration patterns with patterns identified in previous years.
Net migration continues to grow
A net migration gain of 69,100 people occurred in 2015/16, the highest net gain ever recorded, and an increase of 19 per cent from the 58,300 recorded in 2014/15. This was due to a low net migration loss of New Zealand citizens (3,100 people) combined with a large net gain of non–New Zealand citizens (72,200 people), the highest recorded.
International student numbers on the increase again
A total of 91,261 international students were approved to study in New Zealand, an increase of 8 per cent from 2014/15, the third year-on-year increase. China has remained the largest source country of international students (28 per cent) followed by India (22 per cent) and South Korea (5 per cent). After a sharp rise in the numbers from India in 2014/15 (up 42 per cent on 2013/14), only a small increase (3 per cent) occurred in 2015/16.
Numbers of temporary workers increased across the three main work categories
A total of 192,688 people were granted a work visa, an increase of 13 per cent from 2014/15. India overtook the United Kingdom to become the largest source country. Those approved to work in New Zealand under the Essential Skills policy rose 11 per cent from 2014/15. This was the fourth year-on-year increase in Essential Skills workers since the global financial crisis and it reflects the ongoing demand for labour in New Zealand. The other two main work policies, Working Holiday Schemes and Family policy, also increased compared with 2014/15 – Working Holiday Schemes increased 6 per cent and Family policy 14 per cent.
One in five international students gained residence
International students have become an important source of skilled migrants for New Zealand and other OECD countries. By 30 June 2016, 19 per cent of students had transitioned to residence five years after their first student visa. In 2015/16, 45 per cent of skilled principal migrants were former international students.
Skilled principal migrants largely have New Zealand work experience
By 30 June 2016, 18 per cent of temporary workers had transitioned to residence three years after their first work visa. Most (92 per cent) of the 14,668 principal migrants approved for a Skilled/Business resident visa in 2015/16 previously held a temporary visa, with almost all of those visas being a work visa (96 per cent).
In 2015/16, 52,052 people were approved for resident visas, up 21 per cent from 2014/15. Similar levels of increase occurred in those approved under the Skilled/Business stream (22 per cent increase) and the Family stream (20 per cent increase). The largest source countries of permanent migrants to New Zealand were China (18 per cent), India (16 per cent) and the United Kingdom (9 per cent).
Around half of International/Humanitarian Stream approvals were from Pacific countries
Almost 1,600 people were approved residence through the Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category in 2015/16. In addition to the Pacific quotas, 1,458 people were approved through the Refugee Quota Programme. The largest source countries of Quota Refugees in 2015/16 were Syria and Myanmar (24 per cent each), followed by Afghanistan (14 per cent).