Work visa numbers down 10% from March peak, student visa numbers down 20% from a year ago

Work visa numbers down 10% from March peak, student visa numbers down 20% from a year ago

The number of people in this country on work and student visas continues to decline.

According to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, which monitors the number of people in the country by visa type, there were 199,509 people on work visas in this country at the end of September.

That was down by 21,696  (-9.8%) compared to the March peak of 221,205, but still ahead of the 196,995 people that were in the country on work visas in September last year.

Work visa numbers usually follow regular seasonal trends, typically peaking in March, then declining slightly over April, May and June, before flattening out in July and starting to rise again in August.

The numbers have followed that trend again this year, except instead of picking up again in August they have continued to decline in both August and September.

The drop in the number of people in the country on work visas would have been greater except there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of people on work visas leaving the country, which declined from 13,362 in September last year to  4938 in September this year.

That has been partially offset by an increase in the number of people transferring from work visas to residency visas, which rose from 1413 in September last year to 2187 in September this year.

There were 13,296 people who had their work visas renewed in September, unchanged from September last year.

The number of overseas students in this country has declined at twice the pace of those on work visas.

Overseas student numbers typically peak in February and remain more or less stable until October, then fall away strongly over November and December before jumping back up again in January and February.

However this year the numbers peaked as usual in February but have declined in every month since.

At the end of September there were 67,863 people in this country on student visas, down by 15,018 (-18%) compared to the February peak and down by 15,933 (-19%) compared to September last year.

In September, 6192 people who were already in the country had their student visas renewed, 1398 transferred from student visas to work visas and 1023 people on student visas left the country.

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

56 Comments

Adviser says INZ asking migrants who don't make the criteria for either temporary visas or permanent residency to prepare their departure is 'not the Kiwi way'.

A lot to unpack in this article from so-called immigration experts with financial interest from volume-based migration.
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/428288/overseas-workers-told-to-leav...

Prediction is for rents to start declining from
November as university finishes. Our property manager was saying it’s the first time he hasn’t been able to fill up a vacant house within a week in Sandringham since 2012! Its not a lack of suitable tenants but a lack of people coming through. 3 bedroom house $690 per week- wants me to drop to $650

and also , renovate it , because you are supposed to host people , not other beings

All these retired people taking out their cash from the bank to put it into housing could end up in trouble IMO. I do wonder how many ghost houses there are already in NZ. I understand it could be over 100k of houses aren't being lived in.

Yep COVID has finally caught up with rental market. Many tenants are now becoming first home owners too and borders being shut. Rentals will be down but house prices continue to go up. I wonder what will happen in February when mortgage deferrals end and everyone that can buy a house already did and there is more listings and less buyers....

Tbh I would have thought the decline would be much higher especially student visas

Should be worse next year as in 2020 many international student had already paid fees and were in country before the March lockdown.

It should be next year that one has to watch out.

Nah those already here on SV would stay and renew or even apply for work visa. No way I would go home for Xmas or Chinese new year if I was in their position.

Yes, most already in the system.
By Feb 2021 - international students will be down by 80% or more

sure mate. Election over so govt has more ability to move and i think they will

down 80%? Hope so.

Karl Marx is that you

Hopefully named after Karl Popper rather than Karl Marx but you would need to ask Mum. Just wish she had named me Pauline! One day we will see how right she was. Just take a look at Brussels, Paris or Stockholm.

stuart.. don't you mean it should be better? Fewer student and work visas is positive unless you are fixated on financial gain.

Any idea about the number of overstayers ?

Most visas have been extended.

How many at the Mt Roskill church who didn't front for a test are overstayers? I guess it would be racist to want an investigation.

I wonder how soon after the covids restrictions are eased further that Labour will open the taps again?
Now we have Council of Trade Unions after some payback now Winnie is gone. Trade Unions are predominately interested in their members, not unemployment or inequality.

You're right. More low-wage migrants = more members needing protection.

The number of incoming Labour list MPs (plus the existing ones) who have worked directly or indirectly for unions in the past is truly mind-boggling.
https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/vote-2020/election-2020-the-forty-newc...

Earlier this year, CTU called for the government to offer permanent residency to all migrant workers in NZ - perfectly summarises their stance on immigration.

If they all get residency visas, they can all buy houses.

no, they can't , they don't have money

did you also notice the amount of health people coming in on the labour side, 3 real doctors and a midwife.
and nationals only doctor (whom i like) looks like it may lose his seat on specials and come in on the list.
it will make an interesting health select committee, labour can stock it with health people

Not denying that at all, it's a pleasure to have those skills in the Parliament.
It is a bit concerning that so many incoming MPs having no broad policy experience other than in collective bargaining.

Having said that, the National caucus has too many career politicians and business people who don't understand policy at all.
Waiting for the day we elect more candidates like Bill English and Grant Robertson across the board.

13
up

Why cant we get workers and need immigrants? Simple..because the benefit gets abated so heavily. Would you pick fruit if 60% of the splendid wage was lost via abatements?

Frustratingly this never gets much transaction as a headline - everything else gets blamed, typically lazy kiwi's or low wages. . Hopefully benefit reform is the top of the agenda.

Then we can happily wave by bye to these temp workers..

We could start by finding out how many of those who became 'skilled migrant' residents over the last 10 years ended up on some sort of welfare shortly after.

I say that because 4 out of the 5 parties that have made it into Parliament have no interest in stopping low-wage migration; in fact, National-ACT argue for more of it.

Jude on record stating they're a needed skill/well trained workforce.. aka seasonal labourer, highly skilled that's why they in fly in/out mostly.

Labour manifesto policy is to increase the abatement threshold from $90 to $160 and raise it further year on year. Post covid the $250 dole may be transitioned into a UBI (for the poor) of sorts. But you can increase your in-hand income legally by 50% in exchange for approx 1 days work. Great for people in the regions now with a plentiful supply of seasonal jobs.

Why would you go pick fruit when you are still on the higher Covid unemployment benefit? Its literally a paid perpetual holiday. Maybe when they get put onto the basic JobSeeker we might see some decide that working is preferable to sitting at home watching Netflix.

Covid Dole was only designed to last until last Saturday. The holiday is over now.

@Greg Ninness you guys keep publishing immigration news in the property section when there is a news sections which would be more suitable, is this an oversight?

Wouldn't think so, immigration being one of the main drivers for house price inflation.

Sorry but makes no sense, you could use the same rule of thumb to add to the property section all economic and politics articles then.

Landlords better start praying that mortgages decrease faster than rent. Combined with increased rates and potentially missed rental income (tenants losing income, longer time on the market when looking for a new tenant), that 4% ROI can quickly turn into 0%.

Your (fake) concern for landlords is admirable (not)

13
up

Oh, I'm not concerned, not even trying to fake that. The highly leveraged slumlords are the ones who should be concerned.

I don't understand you, so what you're saying is that landlords, who are paying less and less in interest costs and who own multiple properties, which have appreciated immensely in value, should be concerned ???

Domestic tourism won't make up for the lack of international tourism -> AirBnB's will stand vacant (see Queenstown rental price decreases as an example).
Those who would've lost their jobs if it wasn't for the wage subsidies will lose their jobs or get reduced hours. They will eventually run out of savings and won't be able to afford their rental.
The big gap in immigration compared to previous years will stay with us for a while.
Increasing house prices will counter the decrease in interest rates (applies to new landlords) and also dampen the ROI.
Appreciation doesn't do anything to your cashflow, unless you sell.
Not sure why you don't understand this.

I don't understand this because I know you're quite simply wrong, yes, wrong. I do own a Motel and Airbnb's and we have recovered fully and we are at 100% income compared to last year.

So house prices are appreciating, mortgages are dropping and tourism is going just fine and landlords are absolutely creaming it. I'm not saying it's right that landlords are creaming it but I am saying that you're full of it, you have no idea what you're talking about and you just post stuff out of jealousy and frustration, which may be understandable but it's still completely wrong.

We'll see what the stats show a few months from now. I think it's a bit early to compare this Summer season with the previous year's.

slumlord bs label although given half the chance i am sure that's what you would be

Mortgages have become around 30% cheaper this year. It's going to take a while for rent drops to counteract that.

You mean interest only mortgages

This is not how mortgages work, the drop in interest rate does not translate directly into the real interest being paid, especially when asset prices have become more expensive. For instance for a drop from 3% to 2% the savings in a 30y mortgage would be about 17% so about half of what you expected. If you take into account the mortgage would need to be larger than a year ago most of this would wash away in many regions. Here's a figure that depicts what I mean:

https://i.postimg.cc/LsFHZwbT/real-interest.png

"Work visa numbers down 10% on a year ago"

Sorry Greg but I think this headline is misleading, you state yourself (to my surprise) that there are actually more people on work visa in NZ now than a year ago, see below.

"That was down by 21,696 (-9.8%) compared to the March peak of 221,205, but still ahead of the 196,995 people that were in the country on work visas in September last year"

Thanks Yvil. Well spotted.

Relax, Yvil. No need to worry too much about it. We know this, no need to emphasize it. I don't think the headline is misleading. "Work visa numbers down 10% from March peak" It did say "from March peak" which is true and people are expecting this as the border is closed. It's what is going to happen in future matters more.

coh, the headline said "down 10% from a year ago" until my post. Greg changed it to "down 10% from the March peak" after my post, which he acknowledged

I'm very surprised there are more people on work visas now than a year ago

"The drop in the number of people in the country on work visas would have been greater except there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of people on work visas leaving the country, which declined from 13,362 in September last year to 4938 in September this year."

If I remember correctly, expiring work visas were extended so many didn't have to leave.
(more info here: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19/coronavirus-update-inz... )

Also, normally the number of work visas would be up YoY every year by many thousands (see graph here: https://www.interest.co.nz/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/... ), now it's up only 2500-ish.

You shouldnt be. Labour presided over record levels of immigration in 2019/early 2020.

why, those on study move to work to residency , that has been the pathway for the last 20 years.
i would be more surprised if the study ones increased.

The current government, like its predecessors, are well-aware of the poor quality our international education sector offers.

It explains the number of carrots INZ needs to dangle for international students to choose NZ: working rights on student visa, automatic work visa upon graduation, extra points towards residency for NZ qualifications and we're now planning to market ourselves as a Covid-free country.

Juggling a marriage, an affair and a portfolio is a lot of work. Something had to give.

Is the foreign student industry a fraud? Maybe it costs us.
Are our taxpayer funded institutions using taxpayer resources, which they sell off to grab a little extra cashflow?

As an industry I would say not, as an education system definitely.

This site will tie in with some of Greg’s numbers and provide further clarity.

https://www.stats.govt.nz/experimental/covid-19-data-portal

Select category "Visa".

Those on working holidays are heading back but otherwise there’s no rush for the door – many may well simply refuse to leave - what a mess.