The number of work visas being approved is rising strongly while residency visas are falling

The number of work visas being approved is rising strongly while residency visas are falling

New Zealand's total migrant population increase was a whisker short of 17,000 in the 12 months to the end of November.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (based on Immigration NZ data) show there were 472,800 people in this country on migrant visas at the end of November, up by 16,989 (+3.7%) compared to the same time last year.

NZ's migrant population has been steadily increasing for the last six years (see graph below), rising from 343,065 at the end of November 2013 to 472,800 at the end of last month, an increase of 129,735 (+37.8%) over that period.

Of the 472,800 migrants at the end of November, the biggest group by far were the 211,698 people on work visas, making up 45% of all migrants, followed by 185,463 on residence visas (39%) and 74,109 on student visas (16%), see graph 2 below.

Not only are people on work visas the biggest group of migrants in the country, they are also the fastest growing group.

In the 12 months to the end of November 251,133 work visas were approved, up 9.3% on the previous 12 months and up 53.5% on the 12 months to November 2013.

By comparison just 34,614 residence decisions were approved in the 12 months to November, down 12.6% on the previous 12 months and down 31% from the recent peak of 50,139 residency approvals in the 12 months to November 2016.

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Graph 1:

Source: MBIE

Graph 2:

Source: MBIE

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This is a better sign.

If its not clear to people already, we have a massive infrastructural deficit and we don't have sufficiently qualified people to deliver it. Past governments have ignored this deficit for political reasons, and now the chickens have all come home to roast.

NZ inc needs people who have skills we are short of, rather than people who come here to escape their third world living conditions at home.

You don’t want people who are “to escap[ing] their third world living conditions at home“ when those are the people who made this country what it is.


I think, that our country is no longer configured with a combination of culture/infrastructure/technology to support further growth of the sort "Anyone chasing the kiwi dream is welcome"

For a long time it totally was - a refugee family placed into a 3 bed home, 5 minutes walk from good schools, was a good addition to that community and those refugees became great members of the NZ society.

Now we are a long way past that, maybe we would try to place that family in a 2 bed town house and expect them to drive to school, and commute in heavy traffic to a job that doesn't pay enough to ever really find their feet.

And a modern work-visa immigrant will be chasing the impossible too. Accepting poor wages to get a foot in the door, scrimping and cutting all corners to survive.

Made NZ what exactly ?
A inflated property market for speculators & a easy work visa option

I agree with you but I am afraid that we are not making the right kind of investment decisions to attract the right kind of migrants. Our low-wage, high-cost economy has massive infrastructure deficits and lacks the type of industries needed to offer promising career prospects to the highly-skilled.


If the developed world stopped stripping third world countries of all their skilled workers, they probably wouldnt still be third world countries.

I don't agree with this at all. The developed world isn't actively stripping third world countries of their skilled workers. It's those workers (the likes of me) who are trying to get the hell out of a country that's rotten to its core due to mostly political issues. No one asked me to come here, it was my choice.
It wasn't 'the developed world' who kept electing extremely corrupt, criminal politicians in my home country for decades. I'm originally from Hungary, if you've been following the world news you might have heard about some of the sh** that's been going on there. It's not new though, it's just getting close to the point of no return (i.e. turning democracy into autocracy).

Today I learned that Hungary is a third world country.

ever been there?

I knew someone was going to bring this up. If you want to nitpick, yeah, Hungary isn't "third world" (although some parts of it are), nor is it a developed country. Is there anything about my actual points you don't agree with?

Mark “CourtJester” down on the CCP list as potential troublemaker !
Keep your head down Court Jester for the country you escaped to is a changing also

The challenge is not getting the immigrants who have the skills, but to keep them in NZ. The same goes to young NZ born talents.

Yes I would agree with you on that. I'm currently living in Auckland where immigration is very high. I'm constantly see both young Kiwis and immigrants who wanted to stay in NZ but are disillusioned due to the extremely high cost of living (House prices and rents). So they feel forced leave to find more affordable places to live.

I think chicken prefer to roost than to roast ; )

Spotted ;)

I think he meant to say roast! NZ is stuffed..

But not as stuffed as australia :))) burning

I wouldn't count my chickens before they're roasted. Check the Moisture deficit maps on the 90secs @ 9 - Both East Coasts, Auckland and Northland

Housework’s you’re got that right
Australia should’ve been building enough nuke power ( Thorium would’ve been safer reactor ) to power more desalination plants
They built one or two but they’re in real trouble if they don’t get more rains

The fall in residence visa approvals are mainly due to a slowdown in application processing. High staff turnover rates and processing centre restructure are among reasons for this slowdown.

A closer look reveals a spike in number of applicants awaiting resident visa decisions to 35k , the highest since 2011.

The government can neither speed up the process to increase resident numbers with national elections approaching nor introduce stricter selection criteria fearing their leader will no longer be perceived a 'protector' of the vulnerable.

NZ needs ppl, period.

NZ needs young, hard working, smart, with can-do attitude, brave, positive, passionate, and healthy ppl.


Like a hole in the head

The world is massively overpopulated

when debt breaks, the last thing you want is population


who decided we need the numbers of people, I didn't, I prefer the old NZ with plenty of green space, swimmable rivers, unclogged roads, could get a park in front of the shops
in my view too many people here now


Me too. But Old Zealand probably won't be able to afford our superannuation bill. Even though its already been paid for by 'I paid taxes all my life'

superannuation should be done away with. Save enough to support your lifestyle - lower income tax to compensate for no super

Even at its projected peak NZS will cost less in % of govt budget spend than many developed countries are already spending on super well before the boomer peak hits. And that's in gross terms. With one of the worlds highest over 60 employment participation rates there is a solid tax clawback of the gross pension. On net terms our scheme is affordable. We'd need even more low quality immigration if NZS was means tested resulting in a flood of Evelyns and Gavins flagging their jobs.

The constant pursuit of GDP growth and ROI generates a need for population growth. Invention and efficiency on their own simply don't grow GDP fast enough to satisfy expectations.

Sadly most of NZ GDP growth seems to be very dependent and our property market which has created a false economy. NZ needs to let our property market cool to let our real economies grow. Too many companies are folding due to not being able to attract and retain staff who offer them low wages in expensive cities like Auckland.

Sharetrader. Absolutely. Few consider or care about the risks to NZ of having to provide for the needs of the tide of humanity being allowed in, should our economy suffer a catastrophic setback due to a natural event or the new climate change religion successfully mass converting present consumers of NZ tourism and carbon heavy primary products.

Don't worry, we will soon become the 27th province once they located the old maps. By then we will get extra 176 millions. It will be people everywhere, even Ekatahuna will become a major city! Just sit tight and wait...

It is quite possible to be "" hard working, smart, with can-do attitude, brave, positive, passionate, and healthy"" and not young. In fact all of those and wise - not every elderly person becomes disenchanted.

Young, hard working, smart, with can-do attitude, brave, positive, passionate, and healthy communist party members.
Am I right?


Wrong-think can always be corrected in CCP holiday camps.


Sounds just like the 'citizens' of Hong Kong-"can-do attitude,brave,positive,passionate". Sadly, I think they will eventually be crushed. Remember Tiananmen Square?

Nice try Xingmowang
Your cover is secured
Don’t think the CCP will like you using the Square comment though
Next time limit your passion for disruptives to more abstract terminology
Be safe comrade & merry Christmas

NZ still has airplanes & the young can leave if they’re under 35 they can go live & work in a number of countries for at least 2 years.
You can leave the country before you’ve seen it


One of my workmates has moved into a central Auckland apartment recently. Interesting observation, he said most of the apartments (which are one or two bedrooms) seem to typically have 4 or 5 people in each, and the vast majority are Indian people.
So we should keep these high occupancies in mind when we are thinking about housing demand and supply.

That's the case everywhere, Fritz.
Occupancy rates are skyrocketing. We have known this for years - one look at the nature of new housing stock highlights this clearly. The majority of houses are being built with three generation occupancy in mind. Interestingly fertility rates are dropping, yet house sizes are increasing!

I guess it's important to note that for a lot of those migrants it's a lifestyle choice. I know several Indian couples who despite being on good salaries chose to live in shared spaces with friends and family members and save up for multiple properties.

Plenty of people out there who'd rather accumulate assets, increase income and reduce expenses than living the quarter acre dream.

At least some of them will want to buy a house someday and start a family so that could mean two homes needed where only one is rented. The other factor is very often couples get sick of sharing and so when they can afford their own separate accom they will do that.

Yes we should provide 6 man tents at the airports
Well at least Auckland airport
The Warehouse where everyone gets a bargain might be encouraged to discount them
Think of it
Indians housed in cosy China made tents
Well at least until they can get the tents from Bangladesh
I’m sure the National Party will make it housing policy


All political parties are same be it Nationa or NZ first or Labour........everyone is into vote bank politics and once have the votes and are in power who cares...

Recent example is Labour Party who asked votes on CGT and immigration but now have dumped CGT and amnesia on immigration.

I think I read somewhere that residency visas are only down because Immigration NZ isn’t processing them as quickly and has a backlog...

From family experience the process consists of put application into intray; leave it there for many many months, take it out; realise the medicals and police certificates are out of date; search for a missing full stop; then actual processing takes maybe 3 months or even less. It is a recipe for repulsing the highly talented who can earn money in other countries and it handicaps NZ businesses in need of specific international experience.
It explains why so many residents are Uber drivers and so few are contributing serious tax revenue to NZ.

Absolutely correct as know few who have been advised that their residency visa (from Work Visa) has not been alloted a case office (though they have the points required) and have been advised since 07th December 2018, no new case has been processed BUT the truth is that few who applied in February/April have got their case officer SO are doing it on selective basis under instrustion from ministry to slow down as election next year.

Backlog has been created and sooner or later will have o clear as most of them have required points needed.

Is WP still in NZ as was talking so much before the election, wonder what happened to him.

I'm glad I'm in (and now a citizen). INZ is not only bureaucratic and fairly incompetant (many examples - would need a full article to describe) but also arbitrary. For example there was a family reunion visa that ticked along for years and then in mid-2016 they just suspended it. Not much fun for those families about to apply - eg one college teacher returned to UK to look after his parents.
So INZ could easily just change the point count or alter the earnings or the academic requirements.
Can't blame the poor bureaucrats - any competant ones will have moved on to a more fulfilling job years ago - it is the govt that is unwilling to have a public debate on planned population growth in case it sounds racist.

The reunion visa was like many categories being rorted by immigrants who couldn't believe we would be so stupid as to say bring your old people from the 3rd world with permenant disease and we will happily have our health system clogged with them...the big pushback came from good old elderly national voters and to be fair they could see what was happening when their operations were being cancelled to make room for the the wards full of elderly tuberculosis patients from the sub continent that need taking care of. Should never have been allowed to happen, the new settings are far better. Next to be sorted out should be the entrepreneur category which allows the owner of an asian curio shop to be open but not actually trade yet have residency....get the picture?


Too many junk education courses in NZ, not enough high quality course aimed a producing production.

It is PATHETIC that NZ cannot educate its own citizens to fill core services. Even more PATHETIC we have to turn to 2nd and 3rd world workers.


The OECD says NZ has a very skilled workforce. We compare very well with other countries. Trouble is they like a 1st world wage and are displaced by 3rd world immigrants.


Hence why the best and brightest leave NZ to acquire said "1st world wage".

OECD also says we compare poorly in other areas

Yep - should let far fewer in and cull some of those that are here and then wages might rise to a level that residents will actually want the jobs rather than working for minimum wage

the time has come to radically review this situation -- and the massive uncertainty it causes people and employers when work visas come to be renewed - -often with no rhyme nor reason for the decision.

Lets look at all those people on work visas -- who want ot stay - are contributing positively and can sustain themselves and offer them permanent residency -- give them and employers teh certainty -- and then start again with a much more targeted system -- only in areas of high skill needs - doctors nurses teachers - health professionals - trades people --

this would also save a fortune in administration of the 200 thousand long term work visas that role over and over for no good reason

The problem is that it's a lot of work to verify that the applicant stated their actual income, employment and partnership status, accomodation, finances etc. There are some loopholes that are constantly being exploited. For example, someone may - on paper - have a salary that's above the minimum requirement, but might in reality have to pay back a big portion of it to their employer every month. Also there's really no way to verify work experience abroad. We've had people applying for jobs that they claimed to have 10 years experience in (at some random Indian company in most cases), but couldn't even do the most basic stuff.
Immigration NZ has been short on staff for several years now. I'd start by fixing that.

i am more concerned with the people who are already here -- where we can access most of the information through IRD records -- and yes - -there will be the odd person doign as you say and Gifting back salary in return for the job -- but for 99% it wont be that way -

the effort and time to confirm - is no more than what is required to renew a visa, and it only happens once not every year or two as is the curent practice -- more importantly - people have job security and employers have the same

I employ a lot of these people - n healthcare - filling vacancies i cant fill with NZ citizens -- at $25.50 an hour for basic support staff - and 60-70K for nurses - and the effort we have to go to support renewal applications is ridiculous -- never mind the uncertainty -

If we ever get a political party not bastardized by ideology -- but based on common ( its rare as hens teeth) sense - it would have a majority for decades


"In the 12 months to the end of November 251,133 work visas were approved"
It is no wonder there is a shortage of homes and rents are skyrocketing

If have immigrant ready to work on low wages and employers are able to take advantage of them, why will they hire new Zealander as New Zealander will not work below minimmum wages which immigrant readily do - EVEN NOW as they just need money support or top up while struggling to get residency and Job Letter is a big scam - Employer not only get Big money for offering job letter for Visa purpose and also get an employee literally free or with very low pay.

It is a big scam and everone is aware of it as most small to medium business survive on it specially Travel and Hospitality sector (Or will go bust as many operates for the very reason and actual business is just a front) . NZ Economy is based on this Scam, so has to and will continue come what may or come who may !

Easy access to migrant workers results in two main things. Wages are depressed by increasing the supply of workers. Increased demand for housing underpins the house investment gig.
Additionally more of the things that New Zealanders expect to provide for each other through taxes are required. Of course everybody pays taxes. But was that a labor govt surplus we just had? Unspent taxes help no one.
The two main things of course benefit mostly employers and those with easy access to capital. Doesnt seem fair to me.

it is going to end in tears. Is it just me or is this not the reason the Fijians (the real Fijians not the imported sugarcane workers from India) staged coup after coup to protect their nation from being corrupted by a large immigrant community?

Certainly no shortage of Uber and Ola drivers from overseas in Christchurch!
Many come down from Auckland as they get more points for living in ChCh. than Auckland for their residency.
The many I have spoken to say how much better ChCh is to live than Auckland!!!

Until they being set on by people with shaved head!

Skinheads seem to detest East Asians more than South Asians.
The Aryans came from India, after all.

They didn't come from India, they migrated to India. Legend has it that they came from Hyperborea, "Beyond the North, beyond the ice, beyond death – our life, our happiness."

Chairman, let it go, or it will eat you up!
Skinheads are very rare in ChCh haven’t seen them for 10 years.

oh and in closing, if the white half of the country bothered engaging fairly with their treaty partner instead of persecuting, marginalizing and imprisoning them.... I think we'd find that we suddenly have a vibrant and dynamic collaborator to build a truly successful economy with and we wouldn't need this ridiculous model that we are currently pursuing, which I highlight is only making matters worse for our treaty partner.

Oh I thought that people who commit crimes go to prison.... if not then I may as well do something heinous. Are you writing this from inside mate?

Offensive comment deleted. -Ed.

Did I offend you 4thE. If you dont make dumb remarks then maybe you wont get comments you dont like?

to the contrary, my remarks are incisive enough to garner a response from every one, even yourself, I'm inclusive, which means I cater for everyone...even the lowest common denominator...that's you by the way... in case you need that pointed out...cottoned on yet mr joe dirt?

Ka pai 4thE

Tena Tane Ehoa! These white folk I'm descended from really annoy me sometime!

Do you persecute yourself 4thE

not in the slightest. But I do get embarrassed by neandertals such as yourself. Do you wear a John Deere trucker cap and have missing front teeth by any chance? Your comments suggest you'd probably vote for trump if you could...

It's President Trump you peasant.

president know its the truth...


Still supporting the Alt-Right? I was interested to find that this year alone, 8 coal companies in the US have shut down, including the largest private company, Murray Energy. They were major contributors to Trump as he promised to 'make the coal industry great again'.
He, Trump that is, continues to deny the reality of climate change and has make every effort to gut the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). However, many companies and states are thankfully, ignoring him and pushing ahead with their own climate policies.

I couldn't agree more, HW needs to check their privilege.

I couldn't agree more, HW needs to check their privilege.

"There's always some uncertainty around long-term forecasting. Treasury currently believe net migration will decline from 50,000 this year, tracking down to 35,000 in 2024. Treasury has been forecasting slowing migration for some time, as it believes that migration will return to its long-run average.
This has failed to materialise, leading many economists to question Treasury's continued assumption that migration will shrink."

I really don't understand why Treasury could possibly believe this. As Michael Reddell has pointed out, if you let people come here, they will, and in large numbers.

Are Treasury's projections based on an increase in New Zealand citizens leaving? What a vote of confidence in the country if they are.

These third world immigrants must have really heinous living conditions back home to come and work here in a low wage, high cost country.

My sister-in-law lives and is a citizen of a 3rd world country. She has discovered a growth that might or might not be cancer. Lucky she is well paid so she will be going to the Phillipines for tests (NZ was a more expensive alternative and stay at home would be joining a long long queue). It made my wife rejoice living in NZ. Similarly my grandchildren who are entitled to a 3rd world citizenship if they reject their NZ citizenship would have poor schooling if they did so. That is poor but expensive.
So the 3rd world can be lovely; great people and lovely environment but the attraction of the 1st world is just too strong. At least NZ doesn't have the issues Europe has with African illegal immigrants. Why is our govt so out of touch with reality?

Both major parties are too much swayed by 1) a self-absorbed and disingenuous business community clamouring for more cheap labour (e.g. the hospitality sector), and 2) dreamy open border ideology. If open borders worked Germany would not have shut theirs now.

It would be interesting to look at the accuracy of recent Treasury forecasting. It seems awful.

another symptom of another essential government sector stripped of functionality by the 'safe pair of hands' like immigration NZ, Worksafe, IRD, ComCom, Ministry of goes on....hard to report an issue when you actually have no staff....

NZ passport office does a great job.

especially when they are fending off immigration scams from corrupt countries...bottle o franchise anyone? Comes complete with unlicensed liquor, non functioning tills and staff that pay YOU to work for you!

Sounds like a loop, and not a good one. High immigration (which no one voted for) combined govt departmental neglect has lead to massive infrastructure deficit. So the answer is ....more people? While were at it keep putting people on benefits because they cant pass a drug test or get out of bed.


Time to close the door and throw away the key. This is just madness.

NZ Inc. Co. been sold to the world mantra of forever increasing RE value to the points of ignoring any normal economic parameters, those whose benefited? will largely turn blind eyes on this, advocating a defacto. But still we can observe even from the camp of defacto started to realise that this mantra will be just for short term, in the long term? - Very unpleasant predicament. History already teaches us what happened on the French revolution. BUT sadly, the so called 'upper hand' economic of today, sneak around by keep on passing debts, between countries, age demographics etc. (so much terms; QE, OBR, LVR etc.) - How long this will last? a bit like those recent volcanic tragedy eh?... you can put warning level 1,2,3,2,1 etc.. is it being followed? it's not a question of IF .. but always.. WHEN

Welcome to NZ. Where the minute the plane lands the passengers are on their feet up to the overhead lockers on taxi. You then get people 2 rows behind you trying to shove their
way through the isle. They behave like this all the time. Zero manners, Zero Order, Zero Logic just a determined mentality to get in front like an animal. No surprises where they are from.

Ka ruru toku upoko.

House prices are high, groceries and fuel are high, no one shopping at the supermarket appears to speak English. Who's benefiting again?

The New Zealand society we grew up in is unrecognizable. Who signed off on this?

The reason people want to move here is for the Kiwi (and Iwi) culture which is being eroded away.

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