Migrant visa approval numbers hammered in April but the number of migrants in the country on work, student and residence visas remained fairly stable

Migrant visa approval numbers hammered in April but the number of migrants in the country on work, student and residence visas remained fairly stable

The number of student and residence visas being approved dried up to almost nothing in April, although nearly 3000 work visas were approved during the month.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment show that just 69 residence visas were approved in April, down 97% compared to April last year, while just 75 first time student visas were approved, down 98% compared to April last year.

However, 2922 work visas were approved in April, but that was down 83% from the 17,187 that were approved in April last year (see table below).

Although visa approvals declined massively in April, the number of migrants already in this country on work, residence or student visas does not appear to have declined significantly, if at all.

According to MBIE there were 482,229 people on work, student or residence visas in this country at the end of April, which is down 2.2% compared to March, with residence numbers down 1.4% for the month, work visa numbers down 2.8% and student visa numbers down 2.7%.

However, it is a normal seasonal variation for the number of migrants in the country to decline in April compared to March and last month's decline does not appear unusual.

But compared to April last year it was a mixed bag, with student visa numbers down 4.1% compared to a year ago, residence visas down 1.4% and work visa numbers up 7.2%.

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Visa Approvals by Type
  April 2019 April 2020 Change
Work                    17,187              2,922 -83%
Student (First time)                      3,126                    75 -98%
Residence                      2,424                    69 -97%
Total                    22,737              3,066 -87%
NZ Migrant Population by Visa Type
  April 2019 April 2020 Change
Work                 200,637          214,992 7.2%
Student (Total)                    83,085            79,704 -4.1%
Residence                 190,278          187,533 -1.4%
Total                 474,000          482,229 1.7%
Source MBIE      






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While the three members of my family who have office jobs worked from home INZ just stopped.
The mind-shattering incompetance of INZ knows no bounds. Not mentioning INZ's obvious difficulties implementing policies that are never debated, nor the pressure INZ are under from businesses with a proven record of rorts and exploitation of low-paid workers. It's just experience of their random ways of processing mere visitor visas from PI countries. I'd give examples but (a) there is not enough space (b) it makes me too mad thinking about them (c) those who were involved begged not to be identified because they feared becoming targets next time they wanted to visit NZ relatives.

My friend and partner have been waiting on a residency visas for 6 months or so. He was told it was paused once we went to level 3, and no one could process his visa because INZ staff at home don't have computers. I mean, what? My office managed to get thousands of us working from home in 48 hours, with specialist hardware and software. As with my wife, we were able to take (and later have delivered) monitors, desktops, laptops and even chairs or Ethernet cables. Yet somehow we can't get these people a laptop? Instead have them on wage subsidy and have peoples lives in limbo.

To be fair, they do have significant security issues wrt servers. That said, the police had been trialing at home secure server access for the last year, which meant they were able to have vulnerable office staff work from home - so if police where security is even more important can, they could have, they were just totally unprepared.

I don't see that overwhelming need for security. The members of my family working at home are processing IRD returns - I expect they are legally under obligation to keep that private and my social worker daughter is dealing with some very complex difficult cases where keeping the information secure is not only an obligation but also of seriousrisk danger to her clients.
My family obtained residency 17 years ago - it was a massive wodge of paperwork but nothing that I would be embarassed any kiwi seeing - if we had police records or serious health conditions or had no job offers nor academic diplomas why shouldn't anyone see it? I can think of several prominent cases approved by the minister over the objections of INZ where if the information had been publically available the minister might have chosen differently.

I wish you well. My families application was supposed to take 3 months but that became 7 months - not because of any fault in our application, not because of a massive epidemic but because an MP had asked a question in parliament about an Iraqi with ties to Sadam Hussein gaining residency to NZ. So INZ basically stopped processing residency visas while they tried to wriggle out of the accusation. INZ was incompetant and it remains incompetant and will never stop being incompetant until they charge amounts for visas that permit them to employ sufficient quality staff.
Of course they ought to let you work while they do the processing - if you have lied then you lose the job, the charge for the visa and you have to leave NZ. Our current system is designed to keep good people out but attract desperate but persistant applicants. As one immigration advisor said last month - these are people who would crawl over broken glass to stay here.

Whoops, sorry, just accidentally reported your comment...wrong button press. Think I must have an INZ ex-lease laptop.

All good - I've done it more than once!


We have about 200,000 people on temporary work visas.
The work force in tourism is about 229,000.
We are seeing a lot of New Zealanders returning to NZ.
Our unemployment is heading for over 10% (280,000)

We are sitting in our own little bubble feeling really pleased about how well we are coping in dealling with the virus. We have not even begun to feel the full impact that this will have on the world economy. - Worldwide unemployment, trade barriers, collapsing of grossly over inflated asset bubbles --------
There can be absolutely no justification for any immigration or temporary work visas and those who are here on temporary work visas need to returned home as kindly and early as possible.

Agree, the unemployment rate will start to rise and once it gets a roll on it will be very hard to stop. 10% is going to be a bit light I suggest the real rate will be around 15%, of course they will only count the ones on the benefit when it suits, but need to count all peoples. I would feel better getting taxpayers dollars spent and retraining (if it's a job that it is applicable for) a newly unemployed worker than granting another work visa.

I gave thumbs up but emphasise your 'humanely'. All on residency, work and student visas should be treated as we would treat visitors to our homes - meaning with generosity and respect. It is immigrations rorts, corruption and exploitation that has me returning to this and other sites to make my comments. Terrible hypocrisy by our govt for the last two decades.

Yes absolutely. There are real people and real lives involved here. One must be kind, but firm.

Exactly. You can't blame people who immigrated here, followed the rules, and just tried to move to NZ for better opportunities. The blame should fall on a combination of governments (using immigration to artificially boost gdp) and the companies (using immigration to drive down wages, rather than pay a fair wage to NZ'ers).

Re blame, I would add to your list immigrants that operate business models in NZ that are dependent on utilising (and often exploiting) other immigrants (commonly from their own ethnic group) for low value or uneconomic business purposes. Sponsorship to NZ by these individuals of new low skilled immigrants for use in low value and low-skilled areas (e.g. restaurant "managers", "chefs" in takeaway shops, liqour shop "managers", etc) should be prohibited.

Need to allow some work visas for specialty skills. Saw an article that there are technical staff needed for the Auckland city rail link that can't get here. Ideally, we would have people with those skills, but we don't, and solving that issue is a long term problem. Also, allow actors in to restart the movie industry - would be very attractive for Hollywood and lots of local jobs created here. Need the employer to pay for the quarantine (not the NZ govt), but that shouldn't be much of a hurdle.


I have no problem with a temp work visa costing say $50,000pa or alternatively an employ paid $150,000pa (=$50k tax). Otherwise train a Kiwi. IWith an unemployed son at home I get fed up seeing low-paid immigrants: fast food, Uber drivers, etc.

Back in the days when NZ was building much of it's major infrastructure we had a saying. NZ is being designed by Assistant Engineers (pre registered Engineers) and build by Apprentices. There was some truth to it. The important thing was to have a few key senior Engineers and Tradespeople who could provide the necessary guidance. Not only did we build the country but also provided a wonderful environment to develop our people.

Thats how we got the leaky homes syndrome!

Much latter. I thought that it was caused by undue influence from the building material companies on changes to the building regulations?

I applaud your intentions but similar to what somebody has already pointed out, we can’t retain ‘NZ way of living’ if the business wheels stop turning, which to be honest, relies heavily on skilled labour. We all know there is a skill shortage within key industries that move a country forward - which can’t be solved overnight. Perhaps, now’s a good time to start building those capabilities.

Our world has turned upside down in the past few months but the fundamentals of life haven’t.

As painful as it might be to see your whanua struggling for employment, let’s not abruptly direct them on immigrants. Sure, work towards tightening the tap on migration but also acknowledge the massive work that needs to be done in building up those skills and capabilities.

"the number of migrants in the country on work, student and residence visas remained fairly stable" - if they can't leave, it's not surprising. How many will become refugee's though?


How are we going to address all these people on work visas losing their jobs?
One can sympathize with their plight. But really, after a bit of grace, they need to leave.
I would suggest that NZ might provide some degree of financial aid in getting them home. But only up to a point ($500 per head?)

The annual cost of a work visa should include an amount that would pay for a return to country of origin. Note we have to be humane - for example PNG is not accepting its own passport holders back in - I know of a few visitors from PNG who are stranded in NZ and Qld.

Interesting to see what effect this will have across the greater economy. Gone are the days of being able to cobble together, say...a construction company entirely of foreign nationals. Its starting to make more sense as to why Burger King pulled the pin on its operations, their restaurants seemed to be entirely staffed with international school types or immigrants who are so highly skilled they have come all the way to NZ to run a fast food drive through restaurant! Good riddance to all that!

Its election year. If Winny is around expect noise and a potential drag on applications so he can say whTs hes doing. His latest claim from last week was temp and work visas that are now unemployed should exit nz.

they probably should leave, things are going to get quite difficult in the medium term and you don't want a temp/work visa type getting in the way of a kiwi making an extra dollar stacking shelves to make ends meet. Will be interesting to see if the employers can lift their standards of treating their staff after all this...

Yes will be interesting indeed. I left my work as the last kiwi labourer in a team of 12. All temporary immigrants with no interaction outside their work bubble. I loved the employment rort where they would quickly advertise on Seek, (who uses Seek to find a labourers job..) then when no Kiwi applicants applied another immigrant would turn up on Monday! It's a long used scam and one that is detrimentally affecting opportunities for young Kiwis to experience what it means to have a job/laugh/work mates and progress in life! #reset2020