Massive increase in immigrants to New Zealand

Published:  22 Jun at 6 PM
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New Zealand’s net immigration figures have hit an all-time high as 73,000 more arrive than leave.

According to figures for the month of May 2017, immigrants are still flooding to New Zealand in increasing numbers, led by would-be expats from the UK and Australia as well as migrants from China. Las month's net migration figures show an increase on last year of 3,600, with 75 per cent of the 130,400 arrivals non- Kiwis looking to settle in the country. The rush to become part of the country’s growing economy happened at the same time as fewer New Zealanders than normal left to try their luck in Australia.

Chinese citizens comprised 12 per cent of arrivals over the past year, and are the largest group of expats on residence visas at 3,149. The numbers of Britons and Americans arriving totalled 10 per cent each, but 31 per cent fewer arrivals from India were logged during the same time period, resulting in a 40 per cent drop in student visas for Indian nationals. However, an increase in the numbers of students from South Africa and the UK made up the study visa totals.

In the past, New Zealand has been an ever- popular expat destination, especially for retired Britons and those starting a new business along with a new life. Following the 2008 financial crash, the islands were a hub for skilled expat professionals in many sectors including medicine, construction and education. Teachers, nurses and doctors were especially welcome, with many deciding to set up home and stay permanently in the islands.

The recent decision by the New Zealand government to restrict skilled worker visas came as a shock, even although its stated intent was to keep local jobs for local people rather than advertising them across the world. The first effects were felt by temporary agricultural workers whose visas were changed to allow less time in the country, and prospective immigrants whose skills had always been welcome were affected by a rewrite of immigration’s skills list to include fewer categories.

Government justification for the changes didn’t only rest on jobs for New Zealanders, but also included a supposed need to reduce the already high numbers of immigrants with permission to stay. Concerns included housing shortages and overcrowding in the capital Auckland, as well as in a number of other larger cities across both islands. With last year’s 70,000 immigrants mostly choosing to live in and around the capital, its population count has now exceeded 1.5 million.
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