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The number of work and residency visas being issued is picking up again but new student visas are almost non-existent

The number of work and residency visas being issued is picking up again but new student visas are almost non-existent

The number of work, student and residency visas being approved by Immigration NZ picked up again in May, although the numbers remain well below where they were before the COVID-19 lockdown commenced in March.

There were 5925 work visas approved in May, which was up from the 2922 that were approved in April, but still well below the 15,219 work visas approved in March.

In May last year 21,021 work visas were approved.

However residency visa approvals are getting much closer to their normal numbers again. There were 1653 residency visas approved in May compared to 75 in April, 2166 in March and 3309 in May last year.

But student visa approvals have almost dried up.

There were just 252 student visas approved for the first time (excluding renewals or extensions of existing student visas) in May. This was up on the 75 approved in April, but still massively down on the 1935 first time student visas approved in March, and the 4332 approved in May last year.

There has also been a decline in the total number of people in this country on work, residence or student visas since March.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, there were 478,173 people in New Zealand on work, residence or student visas at the end of May, which was 15,012 fewer than there were at the end of March (-3.0%).

However numbers remain up on where there were 12 months ago, when 466,077 people were in the country on work, student or residence visas. So although the number of people in the country on migrant visas has declined by 3% since March, they remain 2.6% higher than they were in May last year.

There were 185,112 people in the country on residence visas at the end of May, down 2.7% compared to the end of March, 79,026, on student visas, which was down 3.5% on March and 214,035 on work visas, which was down 3.2% compared to March.

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47 Comments

21
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However residency visa approvals are getting much closer to their normal numbers again

Like I've said before, two-thirds of these approvals go to non-skilled based applicants - secondary applicants and family stream. Add them to the pile of all the recent tour guides, chefs and cafe managers without work and usable skills in the current environment.

27
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""5925 work visas approved in May"". Can I mention both my son and son-in-law are unemployed in Auckland and two of my daughters are looking for accommodation to rent in Auckland and it is expensive.

I'm happy to accept those who were in the pipeline (INZ's treacle bureaucracy) they could include the high level surgeon who may now be performing life-saving surgery. If our immigrants are competing for jobs with the very well paid I have objection but if we bring in more so called students to perform menial jobs that are paid too badly for Kiwis to accept then it will become an election issue.

"Can I mention both my son and son-in-law are unemployed "

Yes you can, but can I say:
With everything stacked against migrants (from scrutiny of qualifications to INZ mandated "market tests") it says a lot more about your son in laws that they weren't able to get a job, than it does about the migrants.

And since you're being anecdotal, here is mine: I'm a technical expert on a couple of software platforms. When I go for continued training, 80-90% of the attendees are foreigners. Where are the Kiwi that need to be upskilling to compete? The economy is competition, and all jobs are competitive. If you aren't getting one, it means you need to up your game.

23
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Is it possible that those migrants accept working conditions that are sub par for New Zealand? Effective wages below minimum wage, unpaid extra hours, unlawful work conditions are rampant at places that employ unskilled or low-skilled immigrants.
This is coming from a fellow immigrant software guy. I also noticed the lack of kiwi applicants for tech jobs - and the abysmal 'quality' of many immigrant applicants that claim to have 5-10 years of experience and university degree.
An anecdote many might find interesting:
We were looking for a mid-senior level tester. Had about 50 applicants, based on the names 90% of them were from India. Shortlisted 10 people (9 Indian-sounding names, 1 Chinese). Every single one of the Indian applicants were on UNPAID internships. We're talking about people with 3+ years of experience. They have been unpaid for more than 6-12 months in many cases! Let that sink in. Is it kiwis' fault for not wanting to work like that?

NZ employer technique of now. We need a new (say) accountant. Advertise for an accounting clerk. Oh looksy, was we have half a dozens C.A ‘s (or whatever) applying, which is actually what we want but don’t want to pay for. Let’s grab one of these. Or cheaper still, grab the foreign grad who will do the indefinite unpaid intern thing.

I have sympathies for any uni grad/ school leaver. I fear they will be a lost generation as the economy goes into hibernation for many years.

If the issue was the quality of the worker then why not replace 98% of Kiwis with Indians (their 1.3 billion against our 5 million means they have talent galore). Maybe for the same reason parents don't replace their babies with cuter babies from Indian orphanages. We must look after our own (I sorry it it does sound terribly MAGA) it is our duty to treat immigration as a means of making NZ a better place for New Zealanders. Maybe our elite has thought that means cheap 3rd world wages providing services and ever increasing house prices but if our elite was thinking about all Kiwis then they would be far more selective about immigration. Basically every immigrant should be universally accepted as adding value to NZ.

That pretty much states the policy of the Opportunities (TOP) party:
https://www.top.org.nz/smarter_immigration_policy
"The TOP test for immigrants is: if you can improve our standard of living we welcome you. If not, thanks but no thanks."

I worked as a BA consultant for several companies and one trend I've increasingly noticed in the corporate scene is older migrant workers in entry-level positions, especially in STEM and other training-intensive jobs.
The fact that greedy employers can legally leverage years of technical experience at entry-level salaries due to the workers' desperation to find suitable jobs to move to NZ permanently with their families is putting young Kiwis at a serious disadvantage.
FYI INZ mandated market tests neither applies to post-study work visas nor when the occupation is listed on the long-term skill shortage list.

Wondering how an older person would get in? Age is usually a factor in applying, and the parent visa has been suspended for years.

I came in aged 54 because much to my surprise NZ permitted it (the limit was 44 in Australia). Worked ten years and retired about the same (most of my Super coming from the UK so I'm nott cheating taxpayers or at least not much). I wanted in so took a salary that was roughly half of what I would have got back in London. I expect the Indians, Chinese, Filipinos do much the same. At least I was driving down salaries for experienced computer professionals not checkout operators in off-licenses.

10
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dla your "everything stacked against migrants" comment is laughable. Two migrant workers I interacted with yesterday literally did not speak English. They work for a major NZ company I assume they are not hiring illegals. Queenstown has virtually no other population than migrant workers: they call each other "locals" without any hint of irony. The labor pool is mostly of the barrel scraping variety the labor immigration rules have very visibly been lax.

11
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I have had lots of bosses who prefer new migrants as they are generally more submissive, will accept bullying, will accept unfair conditions, will accept longer unpaid hours and lower pay. I don't blame the migrants as they are being taken advantage of by bullying egotistical bosses (of which there are many in NZ). I can say though that, in my experience, local workers have a much better work ethic than the majority of migrants I have worked with.

One threw his job away and the other simply lost it two days ago because the work was not available - he has been working very hard for 2 years with no days off, early start in the dark with eight hour days and more than a couple of hours commuting. He was so reliable his bosses frequently allowed him to bring the company vehicle home even in the week he was made redundant. He is what you might consider a permanent resident foreigner but as a father of my granddaughter I consider family. Now he is looking for night work at a supermarket and is also planning to study just as you recommend.
Incidentally I was also an expert on a few computer platforms and very well paid for it. Now retired but never minded competing with high quality immigrants (the best programmer I've met in NZ was from Kerula). I do object to competition for low paid jobs from pseudo-students and their families although I must admit they are efficient and pleasant at the checkout.

13
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it is already an election issue,the immigration numbers dont lie.I dont think i am the only one who wont be voting for WP again for his failure to do anything about it.

I think TOP may be the only party with a rational immigration policy - but I've not checked recently. Winston will not be getting my vote either.

I actually had high hopes for WP with his immigration policies and hoped he would fix the problem. More fool me. He didn't even talk about the issue for years once elected and now all of a sudden its an issue again. He thinks we are all stupid. What a lemon. Possibly the biggest lame duck politician I have ever seen. I would NEVER vote for this let-down ever again. I feel defrauded!!!

"are looking for accommodation to rent in Auckland and it is expensive."
Which area Lapun ?
We just rented our 2 bed auckland unit to contacts of the neighbour. No drop in rent. High quality tenant. There was a lot of enquiries, a lot of them we wouldn't have accepted.

North shore. 2-bed seems to be just over $500 and 3-bed just under $600. Given the arbitary way the NZ acccommodation supplement works may be best to find a 3-bed about $570 - the extra bedroom always comes in useful.
By expensive I'm thinking fraction of take home pay.

Greg,
Could you clarify who is included in Residency Permits. You say 185,000 are in the country on Residence Permits. How do these Permits differ from Permanent Residency Permits. I would expect those permits alone would greatly outnumer 185,000?

Basically a 'resident visa' gives you the same status as the 'permanent resident visa'. You can only get the latter after being a resident for 2 years. The main difference between the two is that the former has an 'expiry date' related to re-entering NZ. You can stay in NZ for as long as you like, but if you travel abroad you won't be able to re-enter the country from abroad after that date.

You can go directly to permanent resident without being a resident first for two years.

10
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Is that why there are so many homeless people about these days?
there were 478,173 people in New Zealand on work, residence or student visas at the end of May....although the number of people in the country on migrant visas has declined by 3% since March, they remain 2.6% higher than they were in May last year.

So many questions..

If there are 15000 less on work, residence or student visas since March, how did they get out of the country, there was 6 weeks of lockdown in between??? Or is it because they are now NZ Citizens???

Almost 6000 work visa approved in May, who is going to pay for their 14 day quarantine at $6200 a pop? and with unemployment set to skyrocket, do we need them?

Receiving a work visa doesn't mean you have just entered the country. So not $6200 x 6000. When I first came here, I was on a temporary work visa, and kept reapplying every 9 months or so. Eventually I went to a residence visa (which I always qualified for) because the constant medicals, checks, visa costs, etc, were becoming too expensive. But I still have friends who have been here for 4 years who just get new work visas every time - as they have no intention of staying permanently.

Exactly, not everyone applying for a visa is new to NZ. I think this is lost in the statistics.

Immigration NZ employees are still trying to get back to full productivity after nearly 3000 of them had limited to no remote working capability for weeks during the lockdown.
Further, policy makers haven't issued any guidelines to immigration officers to reassess applications on whether their skills are still needed post-Covid. Unless the sponsoring employer shuts their business or pulls the plug on the applicant's job offer, there is no way these applications can be rejected.

Indeed. My friends residency visa has been processing for 9 months - so long before Covid was lurking.

There is a simple and proven way. The point count depends on annual salary. The work visa costs money. In NZ the former is roughly average wage or a little lower and the latter is trivial. Both can be changed by INZ without requiring NZ parliaments approval (that is why we never have a debate about immigration in parliament). Set the cost of a work visa to roughly the cost of one in PNG and it would be about double the cost of employing a teacher and last three years so that would be about $40k per year per work visa and give a major boost to NZ businesses training staff. Alternatively increase the salary limit - I'd say to the level of an average IT staff at Auckland council.

Further, policy makers haven't issued any guidelines to immigration officers to reassess applications on whether their skills are still needed post-Covid. Unless the sponsoring employer shuts their business or pulls the plug on the applicant's job offer, there is no way these applications can be rejected.

I don't believe that is true. I am looking at a letter right now from immigration regarding one of my team's work visa renewal. It states, and I quote:

"The position you had been offered was advertised prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has greatly affected New Zealand's economy and job market meaning there has been significant changes to the labour market since that time. The change in the labour market was unpredicted and extremely fast. The documents you have provided to date do not allow us to make a complete assessment, given the amount of change that has occurred."

It goes on but I won't go into any more detail as it's a sensitive and developing situation however it's pretty clear to me that changes in the labour market are influencing work visa issuance already.

"Or is it because they are now NZ Citizen..".

I think you need a little education on the immigration process, you've missed a couple steps.

There isn't a simple or quick path for most immigrants to go from work/student visas to permanent residence or citizenship.

For most the path to citizenship is the same.
1.Temporary Visa (e.g. student or work).
2. After 2 years in the country, submit an expression of interest (EOI), and get selected from a pool for an invitation to apply for residency. After being selected, you gather and submit evidence/documents for residency. All in this is a 4 to 12 months of processing.
3. After 2 years of residency, you can submit for permanent residency (about 1 to 2 months process).
4. After a total of 5 years with a Resident Visa while staying in NZ, you can apply for citizenship.

With almost no exception, there is at least a 5 to 7 year timeframe (for most more than 7) from being issued a work visa to getting citizenship.

Non comprendez?
If border is "closed" how are these NEW work visa non Kiwis to get in?

Many work visas expire after a certain amount of time. They have to reapply for a new work visa. Therefore presumable most of them were already here and still have work.

NZrs flooding home to access our welfare and other support systems, years or decades after turning their backs on the country. Hundreds of thousands of work visa migrants unwilling to leave but with no work. A rising tide of long term kiwis citizens losing their jobs with little prospect of finding another, about to become a torrent. Yet we keep approving more foreigners to live and work here. It's a special kind of stupidity.

10
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middleman lets not get it twisted who turned their backs on who: NZ decided to become a nasty place for anyone born after a random point in time. It was a decision to go down this road of making housing unaffordable. Lets not pretend that the people affected by this are the bad guys.

14
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The boomers just don't understand how hard it has become for kiwis who didn't buy a home before 2005 or who were not handed down a property from their parents. They simply have no clue and do not care. They are the problem with NZ.

Are you serious ? Its The foreign buyers are the problem.

When I bought my first home 3 years ago we struggled. Despite having a decent deposit, none of the banks would look at us because my wife was a stay at home mum (qualified early childhood teacher) to our newborn. Managed to secure a mortgage through a non-bank lender, but was pretty much capped at roughly 2x my salary. Thanks to the responsible lending code, Kiwis are no longer allowed to cut back on luxuries for the first few years to make the mortgage payments.

Blessing in disguise though, because fast forward to today the wife is back at work and our mortgage payments are less than 10% gross household income.

Foreign buyer - where did you come from?
Were you born in a test tube?
What entitles you to come here and bag our local boomers?
The last of the boomers were born 1965
The explosion in property prices began in 2005 with the flood of foreigners
Where are your parents?

Mike1.The Kiwi diaspora has been going on for decades. While the 1990's reforms saw a substantial increase in emigration, it's revisionism to assert that the wave of departures started at that point or were triggered by subsequent housing unaffordability. The reasons for leaving are multi faceted. Waves of my contemporaries in the 60's and 70's left for lengthy periods simply to escape the stifling culture of NZ back then, the period subsequent generations now reimagine as the golden years. While returnees are entitled to access services it is self evident that they have contributed nothing to creating those services. This of course comes at a cost, particularly if they are unable to find jobs. It's a simple statement of fact.

Middleman. Keep in mind all those returning Kiwi's bring with them their foreign pensions. And come 65 when they apply for the Super they will find out like my wife there is none for them, as their overseas pension (together with their foreign partner's) is subtracted from NZ Super payment. Thus like us I'm sure there are thousands upon thousands of retirees living here who worked substantially overseas for whom no Super is paid out by NZ Government.

I wasn't here until 2002 but if in the 60's and 70's they had found a way of getting all the young over-opinionated Kiwis to leave then it must have been a golden age. For example just think about our young MPs - they are no stupider or wiser than the old ones but they sure are smug and self-regarding. At least Jacinda went to London.

middleman its more complicated than that. The unspoken rule was that if you had brains you left, competed in a "real" environment, then returned with your skills and usually some capital. Its the return part of the equation that housing tampered with. I have earned an income that would be a fantasy income for most NZers, have saved a lot of it and I don't feel didn't feel comfortable moving back to NZ with the prices being what they have been. I have the choice to withhold my money but that is not normal.

NZ's mortgage structure didn't appear by magic. The concept of using equity as a deposit is deeply flawed and evidence of total regulatory capture. It self evidently benefits only people who owned early and destroys the chances of people buying later. A structure that encourages young professionals to leave and never come back is absolutely idiotic.

interest.co.nz had a political party comparison page in 2017:
https://www.interest.co.nz/news/election-2017-policies

Hopefully it will pop up again this year to help us compare before this year's election. Will be interesting to see how it changes for the big parties.

That's a fun link. I like Labour's ""these changes are estimated to reduce net migration by 20,000-30,000"" and ""and introducing a KiwiBuild Visa for residential construction firms"".

With jobs going left, right and centre, the number of new immigrants, bar absolutely essentials like surgeons etc should be precisely zero.

I was an young kiwi emigrant who left for Adelaide in 1976. It was hot & hard there just as it was here. Went to the UK in 1978 & it was cold & hard there. Strikes. Unions marching. Government arguing. The local people were the laziest workers I had ever seen. In one place a group of 3 or 4 of them never did a damn thing all day. I couldn't believe it. Then did the Asian thing which nearly killed me to be fair, but was by far the best education I ever had, including my 13 years at primary & secondary school. When I arrived home I had no money & no job but they were the least of my issues. I have worked steadily for another 40 years since then with only one month on the dole in 1988 (after the share market crash). I knew long before I arrived back, over 40 years ago now, that NZ was the place to be. I was a worker & this is a working class paradise. Sure I could have stayed in Oz & gone to the mines & come home rich, but they too were (& still are) hot & hard places to live & work. Even FIFO is a tough gig. And still today NZ is one of the great small nations on the planet. Okay, the roads are a little busier & the waiting lists for elective surgery a little longer but it is still a working man's & woman's paradise, it's just that most cannot see it for a lack of reference. Our immigrants can see it - very clearly. Our poorer folk who don't know any better don't have a clue how good this is - even for them. I wish they did, because they might stop moaning & start working & get on a build a half decent life which is still very possible today, just as it was yesterday, just as it was last century. Get off your arse, put a smile on your dial, find a job & a decent partner, raise a family, become grand parents & enjoy what we have got to offer, which I repeat, is a lot. Life is a gift. Enjoy it.

Days to the General Election: 20
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.