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Overseas students and migrant worker numbers have declined by 63,532 in the last 12 months

Overseas students and migrant worker numbers have declined by 63,532 in the last 12 months

The number of people in New Zealand on work or student visas is continuing to slowly but steadily decline.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which monitors the number of people in this country by visa type, show that the number of people in this country on work visas peaked at an all time high of 221,256 in March last year but has declined in every month since.

At the end of February this year there were 186,108 people in this country on work visas, down by 34,857 (-15.8%) compared to February last year.

So although the number of people on work visas is declining, it is a slow decline averaging just under 3000 a month.

That means the number of people in this country on work visas has declined back to around the levels of February 2018, when there was 180,024.

However, the decline in overseas student numbers has been more severe.

Since February last year, the number of people in the country on student visas has declined from 82,917 to 54,242, a reduction of 28,675 (-34.6%).

That is the lowest it has been at that time of year since 2013/14.

Altogether there were 63,532 fewer people in this country on work or student visas at the end of February compared to a year earlier.

Which means on average, their numbers have reduced by 5279 a month over the last year.

Perhaps surprisingly given the pandemic lockdown restrictions on international travel, there has also been a reduction in the number people in this country on what MBIE calls Recent Residence visas.

These are are people who have been in the country on residence visas for up to five years, after which MBIE stops counting them.

Their numbers have reduced from 189,021 in February last year, to 180,384 in February this year, a reduction of 8637 (-4.6%).

The graph below shows the monthly population trends for people on work or student visas, from January 2020 to February 2021.

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we need more covids


let's hope they start investigating the questionable (fake) Pre Travel covid tests that are required before boarding a flight to NZ. Amazes me how many cases seem to come in daily still, suspiciously from a certain country known for creative certificate creation..... Maybe if they start prosecuting them it may stop.

CCP already brief local parliamentary agent to open the border first with Taiwan, China (reported lower case) - and at the moment they're preparing an advanced holographic passport marker for their citizens that has been vaccinated with the dear Sinovac (50-55% efficacy) home grown vaccine.
Another dilemma for NZ, try to be up there with 'Pfizer' standard, but have to welcoming the red carpet for the dear cheaper but mass of everything.
CCP will be red faced, if their citizen have to be forced by Four eyes & the blinker... to use the 'golden standard of US made Pfizer vaccine).. hmm.

Sess.. with the exception of maybe 3 or 4 countries I am sure I could buy a negative covid result for well under $100 anywhere in Asia.

True. But then why not buy an actual covid vaccine.

True, I think you could probably buy one pretty cheap in most of Asia as well.


Good news. It is a trend that needs to continue.

I have little concern for those who argue that their income is reliant on them, they will be creative enough to find new ways to make money.


Grow their own tomatoes maybe?

Ha ha like that ASB ads eh? grow and consume tomatoes to get into the ladder, forget about kid/starting a meaningful family life etc.
How about that?.. other banks suggestion to get 'partner' for sure when applying for loan, single won't cut it. If necessary? be flexible/willing to change your partner preferential gender. Absolutely, inclusive.. but open for interpretation.

I’m building my own veggie boxes, there’s no way I’m buying from this inflated economy. Even my undies are second hand, a stain or two doesn’t worry me.

But seriously, I agree. Avoid the inflated economy, avoid made in China and also help the environment.
Killing three birds with one stone.

Man did this government miss a beat by not setting up quarantine facilities to bring in offshore students. Parents all over the world would have jumped to have sent their kids to New Zealand through this. Schools are now having to make staff redundant to cover funding gaps and Auckland central city is dead.


Schools? Mass redundancy!

What like Auckland grammer? Or some dodgy hole in the wall English academy?

We can't afford to maintain the people we already have. Let's close down this visa back door for good.

No, staff at normal high schools.

Half of them are recent imports too.

I am fine with changing the post-study work visa rights (visa "back door" as you put it), but I see no harm in overseas students paying money to study here. In fact, there is significant benefit to local students because it allows universities to offer choices that would be uneconomic without the internationals. Offering top quality education can only help our country. Then in terms of work rights, I would probably limit them to PostGrad degrees only - anyone who has the stamina and smarts to do a Masters or PhD can only help our economy. Small numbers compared to the visa-shops set up with low quality "degrees", which indeed need to be shut down.

Agree as long as they deposit a years worth of expenses into a NZ bank before they arrive here. A penniless student working part time at Dominos pizza or Liquorland is a "net negative immigrant" even if they leave once their study is completed.

Agree. I think even now the student visa requires showing a year's worth of living expenses available up front.


Perhaps NZ should properly fund the education system instead of relying on overseas learners who probably use “education” as a pathway to residency....


Totally agree with Jarlaith's comment. Foreign students use it as a pathway to residency -come here for a short course, get a job and get residency! NZ is taking on low skilled migrants who either drive taxis, teach in daycare or run a diary. There are companies in counties like India which specifically promote this idea and are getting lots of attention.

No one worries about additional infrastructure costs, etc associated with high immigration. Employers are only keen to get cheap labour and politicians are too busy working on the soft vote.
Continue on this path and we will be like England. Infact we already are. Just go to Sandringham or Papatoetoe in Auckland!

One has to be very careful when deducing ethnicity from a name. Just look at the trouble the Labour party had when they deduced Chinese origin from surname of house purchasers. However most Patel's I've met originated in India (even if four or five generations ago). But I will bravely agree with Prav Patel and quote my friend Bushan who commenting on immigrants from his country of origin said "They brought in the wrong Indians". Those with PhDs in STEM subjects go straight to Yale, MIT or Oxford - rarely to NZ.


I can't speak for the schools. But, I'm studying some third year papers at Massey University. The other day, the lecturer mentioned that two thirds of the class are studying and watching the lectures remotely from their home countries.

How can there be redundancies, nktokyo when there are teacher shortages in mainstream schools.

Because they don't have enough funding.

nktokyo...some kind of sick joke?

How our economy will survive? I am looking for few good workers but can't find good one. Bunch of useless crooks asking $30 per hour hour. ( by the way I am in Aircon industry)


By good one do you mean over qualified migrants prepared to work for minimum wage?

I am talking about local crowd.


If you won't pay $30 an hour for labour I'm struggling to have any sympathy for you.

Have you employed anyone or have you any business experience so far?
By the way I am not after sympathy but showing poor results of immigration policy.

I presume you run proper training courses and taking on apprentices. Inotherwords, running a proper business as trainees would expect. NZders probably think you're just another quick-buck merchant that will offer no long-term certainties.
If you don't take on any apprentices it's not a good look to NZders who will perceive your business set-up as looking shonky. In employment workers look for other benefits rather than hourly rate, like a well-established business with a widely known reputation.
This takes time, in fact years to develop, and people will always use the well-established business when the boom-times come to an end.

Agreed mate. Well said.

Yes, next point?


Don't worry, ImmigrationNZ are still rubber stamping approvals. Once the border reopens the cheap workers will return.

Not cheap but competent. At least which contributes to company and country. All good ones are leaving NZ. They come back after 50 and enjoy retirement here.


That wasn’t my experience. I do find it surprising that some people can secure permanent residence without ever having set foot in NZ or having job offers. Very weird.

crazy. After checking the data on the mbie website, they can get rubber stamped "off shore".

If that's true (that link doesn't seem to have any info on that) then that's criminal. I guess once they have this they can come to live in NZ in these times of covid...

R1 resident decisions - Feb x72 people approved in "offshore"
A small number compared to when the border was open.
But people still getting approvals while outside of NZ.


Id change that to "need $30 an hour" just to pay extortion rent proxy from over leverage lazy FIAT bank lending.

try paying $40 , but train them to be more productive. I just remember 4 people from gardening company doing something for my neighbor (e.g. put some soil on 4 sq m and seed the grass ), OMG it took them about 6h to do * 4 person .

So slightly faster rate then road building

Good idea then the clients costs go up from $45 to $55.
We pay more for labour you pay more for services.

No, client does not give a damn how long did it take to do the job and how many people were involved , they are paying for the result

Don’t blame them. Need to pay the rent

Business owners can expect to pay more to cover people's high rents and keep landlords in the black. All markets must bow to the needs of landlords

If you are in the aircon industry you will probably be employing mainly tradesmen, at one company in Hastings which I am aware of they are paying up to $45/hr
Whats your charge out rate, probably at least $80/hr

In Auckland, it's cut throat competition. In Auckland, people do Aircon installation for $400. Even if I pay $30 to right candidate then my labour cost is $300 for four hours. Then vehicle and material costs are another $250 to $300.
How can business owner survive?
I think I am in wrong place! Must be in Hastings.

Well get out of the business.

Jacinda needs to get out, not me. Lol

Or employ people on Work Visas and get them to give you a kickback on their wages. An alternative I came across when I was applying for residency 18 years ago is to run a business not for profit but for selling to foreigners applying for NZ residency (fortunately that was not my route to becoming a Kiwi).

Yeah thats right pat.t, people still expect to make major profit at employees expense.

I don't think you can live in Auckland on $30 per hour mate.

Yes there are people out there who are useless. They can't show up to work on time, they're slow and negative etc. I agree with that.

But the working people in this country have been shafted for sooooooooo long by endless low skilled immigration. It's about time things turned around.


Tourism on life support, immigration down, students starting online or living elsewhere, retail getting hammered, and inflation catching fire where ever you look. All of that but money piling into housing at a rate that seems unimaginable.

What could possible go wrong?

Joining all the dots together doesn’t appear to be possible for a significant number of people both here and around the world. Saw some stats this week confirming that banks are not lending to small businesses. But, they are the businesses that are paying the salaries of the masses taking on eye watering debt........ what could possibly go wrong indeed.... too many people wearing blinkers with their rose tinted spectacles.

Why would the former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth Jacinda Ardern and her comrades think small business should be a priority?

the figure quoted for recent residence visaa reducing by 4.6%,if they ghost them after 5 years,would you not expect the figure to reduce by 20% if we closed the border 12 months previously?

they are still rubber stamping those that are currently in NZ. But once they approval they can bring their overseas family into NZ. Happening even while we have a closed border...


There is zero community Covid in Australia. As Scott Morrison rightly pointed out (and I dislike him), if NZ doesn't want a tourism industry that's our decision. Queenstown would have ski holiday bookings up the wazoo if we accepted the very low risk. Pilots back to work, hospitality etc etc.

Yaay, another reasons for govt to ask RBNZ to up the QE game here, more stimulus for wages.. to fulfill the 'local wish/standard' - which in the end, will supply back into the raising rents then to the more leverage of housing investors, then their mortgage commitment to OZ banks.
Meaningful correction, is as good as vaporizing hope for young professional Kiwis, by doing tweaking here and there, PR promise (not backed by action/legal base) - For, every new Healthcare pro graduates? (Nursing, Med, Pharmacy, Physiotherapist etc.) - leave soon, that land of long dark drop - It's Not worth of your dedication.


Down 5278 every month. We are still short of houses but that means about 2000 houses a month we don't have to build to catch up.

or 2000 less combi/'self contained' vehicles on the roads every month. ;-)

so each month -- more progress than Labour made in three years !


Greg... hate to be the grammar police, or more accurately the vocab police, but your choice of the word severe stands out as clearly inappropriate usage in relation to a drop in immigration numbers. Severe can only be (correctly) used when it pertains to something bad or undesirable. My suggestion is a correction by way of replacing severe with pleasing.
Good informative article though I feel it would have explained the migrant visa crisis more completely had the number of parents and partners (also currently here on temp visas) been included as I understand it adds nearly a whopping 100 000 (or close to another 50%) to the total.
I wonder how much longer it will take and how much more it will cost to vaccinate these extra 300 000 people?

But but we need them because otherwise we have no one who can run a cafe or bottle shop. Or drive a taxi or pack groceries in a supermarket. And on and on.

With a steady decline in tax dollars coming in, Labour probably will need to raise GST to keep the welfare Ponzi going- it's more popular for their loyal voters to do so than to cut benefits.

Yahoo. Fantastic.

Number of people in NZ on work or student visas declining by more than 5000 a month

Incidentally, 5000 investors /month borrowed to purchase property (C31). Also coincides with 3k FHBers every month. The FHB & VISA figures potentially free up 2k rental properties per month (assuming 4 people per dwelling). Some investors could be buying from other investors so not "adding" supply, but even at saaayy 50% it's a lot of rental supply.

The Universities & Polytechs are now also ramping up online delivery to international students living overseas. With a view to Immigration NZ fast tracking them to job visas or student visas when the borders reopen.

Definitely bad news for tertiary educational institutions, international students have been their cash cows for so many years.