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The number of people in New Zealand on work or student visas has declined by 63,417 since its peak in February 2020

The number of people in New Zealand on work or student visas has declined by 63,417 since its peak in February 2020

The number of people in New Zealand on work and student visas is continuing to decline, but only slowly.

According to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, which tracks visa numbers, there were 240,465 people in NZ on work or student visas at the end of April.

That was down by 63,417 (-20.9%) from the peak of 303,882 in February last year.

The figures, which go back to 2008, show that overseas student numbers peaked at 86,064 in October 2019. They have declined steadily since then to 52,899 at the end of April this year.

That's a reduction of 33,165 (-38.5%) since the 2019 peak and the numbers are continuing to decline.

Since the beginning of this year the number of overseas students has been declining at the rate of about 2000 a month.

That means the number of overseas students is now at its lowest level since December 2014.

The number of overseas workers is also in a slow but steady decline.

The number of people on work visas peaked at 221,256 in March last year, but has since declined to 187,566 at the end of April this year. That's a reduction of 33,690 (-15.2%).

However most of the reduction in the number of people on work visas occurred last year and their numbers have been reasonably stable since the beginning of this year.

In April, 501 people came into NZ on work visas, while 1698 people on work visas left the country, giving a net loss of 1197.

However another 6012 had their work visas renewed, suggesting that while relatively few overseas workers are entering the country at the moment, most of those who are already here are staying.

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I thought rents might have dropped with less demand - but they've still gone up 6% despite people leaving. Imagine what will happen if/when they all return. Rent increases of 10% or more because we actually have real demand?

Couple that with increased welfare payments of the government - where will the inflation end?

Well, you are (I assume intentionally) leaving outside your argument the fact that the RBNZ lowered the OCR to historical lows, which encourage housing investment in a way we have never seen before, in many cases investors as the data shows are heavily overleveraged, they obviously need to get a return on investment, so there's your 6% increase. I do not think they can push that much further without a considerable increase in wages.


Or increases in welfare - which the labour government just provided! How insane...

Yes, some ridiculous $40 a week on those that need it the most, I doubt that will be spent in luxury. Stop blaming the poor.

Why don't we pay them an extra $400?
Why not if there is no relationship between your worth as a worker and what you 'need' to be paid to entice you off benefit.



Do you really believe that most people on a benefit are there by choice? Sadly, the tax and benefit systems all too often act not with but against each other, creating serious disincentives to taking many of the jobs on offer. In my experince, for what it's worth, most people want to work. Sure there are those who game the system, but that happens throughout society. indeed, nobody puts more effort into gaming the sytem than the really wealthy-why else do tax havens exist?

Most not. But not all. Earlier this year my son concluded it was easier than finishing his builders apprenticeship. If it can apply once it can apply to others. Even myself happy with income from Super supplemented with what my wife earns could / would if forced return to paid employment (I rather fancy being a traffic warden). It is partly politics and partly the rapid decline of the protestant work ethic.

Try having all your muscles, organs included rot away genetically then come back and say severely disabled people should be out there picking fruit while having to be fed through a tube on heart meds.

The treatment of the seriously disabled is a disgrace - a lack of kindness / sympathy from our politicians. Not the same issue as unemployment benefit.

This comment transpires so much hate...


I wonder how far Labour would actually go to keep house prices from falling? How many poor people would they throw under the bus before they allowed one single landlord or asset owner to take a hit?

Our economy has been making up for its loss of productive industries for decades by creating jobs in the low-paying service sectors built around import and consumption.
As the de-industrialisation has picked up its pace since the GFC, successive governments have doubled-down on the wealth effect to keep the economy ticking and lower income workers employed, to the extent of bringing heaps of new consumers from abroad.

This is why swearing into government comes with the implicit responsibility of protecting wealthy homeowners, so they keep buying $6 coffees, Ford Rangers and trips to the South Island; now more than ever with our borders shut.

If you really mean single landlord then it has happened - last night I was calculating what is the going price for buying apartments in the city to rent to students etc since the unexpected change to tax relief on mortgages. My rough estimate being a 20% drop in prices that were already dropping because of Covid keeping foreign students away. Doesn't trouble my family with one investment apartment but I know of pensioners with 15 - they will have gone from wealthy to possibly desperate overnight. However the general thrust of your comment is quite correct.

They'd go as far as the Prime Minister saying people expect house prices to go up, right as prices literally are boiling over, never to be returned to previous already insanely overcooked prices which now look 'cheap' by comparison

If rents didn't go down with people leaving, why would you expect them to go up when they return?

more demand, they only go up with the ability of people to pay and lack of supply, so labour have increased the ability of people to pay more and have still not addressed supply enough, to do that would mean a massive government house building project like the 1950's, instead they are leaving that to the private sector and guess what the private sector will not over build supply as they want prices to stay where they are.
watch out the next thing they will try is rent control

I guess problem being that even though there are less students, when you count all the returnees we still had positive net migration, so demand for rental accomodation has not decreased.

Not really, migration into NZ has gone down from 91'000 pa to 31 March 2020 to 6'600 in the 12 months to 31 March 2021

6600 is still positive is the point.

6600 > 0
You did the math.

The number Yvil is giving you are correct, the returnees myth has been another lie created to keep the housing bubble going a little bit further.

It’s almost like immigrants aren’t always the problem...

Yeah nah mate. Who else to blame then?

I know, we could blame the landlords or more precisely what Groat affectionately calls the "specuvestors" or "darklords"

Spot on for once.


“most of those who are already here are staying”

All the while determinedly treading the pathway to residency – they will never leave until that’s achieved.


The media is full of sob stories and open letters from temporary migrants requesting residency for having paid tuition fees to local institutions here and/or for showing up to their low-paid work daily.

The last thing we want is to run our skilled migration programme on humanitarian grounds.


Agreed. I'm also becoming tired of the media being used (or is it the other way around?) for those sob stories.

..and once achieved they will be off to Aus.

Does overseas student include school children?
Do all tertiary students have the right to work? What % actually work and on average how many hours per week? Are family members of immigrants on student visas permitted to stay in NZ? And work?

Most of them have probably been converted to residency visas.


INZ hasn't accepted new skilled migrant visa applications since April 2020.
At this stage, only Labour and Maori are the only parties in Parliament taking a hard stance against lower-skilled migrants.

Greens clearly want more those low-wage workers to be able to vote next election; National and ACT want to keep sweatshop owners happy with access to vulnerable workers.

"probably" being -- you guess?

The stats are out there. Residency visas way down too.

That's for NEW migrants. It specifically excludes those that are already in the country on another visa and are seeking to replace a work/student visa with a residency visa or have their residency application confirmed. "The number of new migrants to be approved for residence in a given financial year. (This number does not include the following residence applications: replace, confirmation, residence sponsorship or returning residence visas)"

Looking forward to a further big reduction resulting from Labour's yet to be announced new policies. But not hopeful they will get anything done.


Ardern is responsible for record numbers of immigrants under their policies - in National's last year they approved 120,000 new immigrants, in 2019 Labour approved 150,000 new immigrants. Labour can "cut" immigration all the way back to where it was under National, and it would still be the highest immigration rate in the western world.


How many kiwis would have to leave before Jacinda is forced to cancel all flights out? Thank god I broke free but speaking to friends back home there is a lot of people wanting to escape New Zeababwe.

This is one of the most absurd comments I've read on here, and that's setting a low bar.


Its perhaps absurd to somebody who has not just been forced to leave the country they adored because house prices got so far out of the realms of reality that I could no longer even consider affording a home. Its perhaps absurd to somebody who does not understand the anger and absolute feeling of betrayal felt by so many young and poorer people who had not reached the ladder before it was ripped further away from them. You may consider the New Zeababwe comment crass but consider this. Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Africa, a beautiful and idylic place. Then the dictator decided to use the countries wealth as his play thing and decided to only enrich his peers whilst completely destroying the currency and the lives of the poor. Think about it, like you are a young kiwi poor person who just wants an equal go of it.


Groat - I was mentioning this to murray86 on another article. I think boomers have completely missed the point of just how dark younger generations are towards them over this. I also pointed 'The 4th Turning' which suggests that there is a change of power happening at present and it will be millennials leading the world very soon. I hope the younger generation aren't out for revenge for the pain that boomers (mostly unconsciously and are still unconscious to) have caused younger people.

The fact that younger people are having to leave their own country because they can't afford a home, while many boomers are cruising around in campervans receiving superannuation and rental income - its just completely crazy how imbalanced our society has become.


B-b-b-b-but they p-p-p-paid taxes all their life. They're entitled to own surplus property to their needs for the purpose of siphoning off the next generation's earnings/ability to save. The pension doesn't pay enough, and it's not their fault they voted for Muldoon to disestablish the communist "Kiwisaver" style superannuation scheme of the 1970's which would have been worth $240 billion today.

you guys shouldnt be so hard on pensioners,some of them are losers too,renting,stacking the shelves at new world etc;

It would not surprise me if the ones stacking shelves own multiple properties with multiple income streams but they just wanted "more", do you think most boomers would care that the job they are doing and don't need, could be done by a poor single mother who needs to feed her family? Obviously not all boomers are this cruel but from my personal experience a large proportion are.

The jealously and envy is particularly strong today, even by your low standards

You confuse jealousy and envy with total dissappointment and an overwhelming sense of betrayal. Like how Jesus was not jealous or envious of Judas.

Hmmm…, nah definitely jealously and envy


IO, I have never suffered from mental health issues before in my lifetime but this last year spent in NZ trying to get on the ladder was absolutely horrendous. Watching the total unadulterated greed of others trying to get more and more houses, whilst my partner and I just wanted one? Putting in high offers in deadline sales for 'sold as seen' dumps only to be blown out of the water by a landlord. Then to see Jacinda say "its what kiwis expect" and Orr and his "first class problem"? I was ashamed of how my country men and women behaved. When we arrived in Oz I cannot express just how much of a weight was lifted from our shoulders. My partner and I both got really well paid jobs right away and we are now feeling happy and excited about our future. It was the best thing we ever did! The black dog has gone forever!

You basically conveyed exactly our situation and it will be the same for many. I feel a deep sense of relief now I ha e moved to Australia.

Good for you Groat. Rest assured that what has happened to the NZ housing market isn't permanent. Hope to see you back again in the future with afamily maybe, the country always needs more people with 'get up and go' rather than 'sit on arse and speculate'.


Dark is an understatement.... My partner and I were planning to buy our first home this year, the recent increase in house prices has destroyed our future and everything we have worked for our whole lives. I wouldn't mind a bit of revenge.... To start, we need to means test super and recognize it as the benefit that it is.

I get your anger. I have family locked out of the housing market by greedy speculators. I think the way young kiwis are being excluded is appalling. But why finger only superannuitants ?. I imagine you will have engaged in the depressing open home charades, auctions etc so won't have missed the other key players. eg our migrant community that has also been buying up large.


I see more cackling groups of balding old white men with kiwi accents over bidding at auctions, more than immigrants certainly. They are rude and mean and they visibly get joy out of walking all over us. We can't even get a family home, let alone pay for a wedding or have children. We are being locked out of a future, not just a home.

The super thing isn't just housing revenge related. It bugs me that we spend most of our taxpayer dollars on the wealthiest part of society. That doesn't feel right to me at all, its not very good 'pie distribution'.

That 'wealthiest part' pays much of the income tax that is redistributed. Nearly 50% of people pay zero income tax, after transfers. The marginal income tax rate hiked to 39c, progressive capital taxes levied on property through the rating system and punitive taxes on overseas invested capital suggest the wealthy are already surrendering a chunky portion of the 'pie'. Greedy fellow boomer property speculators are partly to blame for your predicament but government decisions and inaction over the last decade are what you should primarily be blaming. A tsunami of immigration has overwhelmed our ability to house the population and your generation is the collateral damage. I suggest a good part of your anger should be directed at wellington.

Didn't realise superannuants paid the most tax? Maybe they did in the past sure, but they aren't covering their expenses now are they? Millennials are, and we didn't even get free uni to help with that, and we have to save for our own retirement. Older generations are milking us via tax for their super and healthcare, and also via rent, to further increase their income while hoarding assets like greedy dragons! It's horrendously unfair, and humans get very angry when they feel unfairness.

"balding old white men" - Ageist, racist and sexist in one short line.

Appreciate you calling out my prejudice. Sorry for offending you by describing my experiences.

@ Millenium Woman.
I'm a classic old white man (albeit with full hair)
I am angry indeed at the situation young people find themselves in. I think it the greatest crisis New Zealanders have faced in a long long time. And life damaging for young people and our nation.
Never realised the difference hair makes to my views.

Thanks for your response and empathy. Haha I didn't realize how much the hair affected my views too!! I just have a couple of particular individuals in mind, who deeply angered me at open homes and in an auction room (by making me and my partner feel interior, sniggering at us), they were stereotypical fat cats (which actually made us laugh a bit). But I shouldn't project my experience with them onto all people who look similar. But I guess that's how unconscious bias is evolved to work.

There's a very dark side to the male kiwi pysche

You get my agreement on means testing super.

I am a boomer the only people I know with multiple homes are my children's generation I personally don't know any boomers with multiple homes I know a couple with commercial property but I know of young people with up to 12 homes

I only know of 1 boomer with rental properties, but accept that they must be out of my circle of friends. Generalisations about boomers shouldn't be made, however wealthy, speculators shouldn't get super.

Agreed EdwardD very wealtht don't need super and shouldn't receive it

Sorry accidentally touched report

Not sure what my father was..pre boomer? born in early 30s.he would be rolling in his grave right now to see what is happening. He was conservative with money after growing up Northern England during depression times which had an affect on him and he was what you'd call ultra frugal to the point of painting his house with a mixture of leftover paints (resulting in a shade affectionately known as dad-brown) . My FIL is in 70s and similar mindset, will try to make his house worth less on paper to keep the rates down. Not all oldies are of that greedy mind set or into risk taking, spendy behaviour. Some pensioners complain about low interest rates in savings because that was what they were counting on and they did not go out and buy up houses, they had one and it didn't occur to them to buy more than one


The Labour Govt seems bent on implementing separate systems based on race, with one race being heavily favoured over the other. Its probably only a matter of time before land confiscations begin. One can argue its already started with Ihumātao - its just a question of whether you will be compensated or not. Or they just implement policies where they make it impossible for one group to buy houses, while the Govt buys those houses and gifts them to the other group. This is also already happening with Kainga Ora outbidding FHB to purchase established houses.

Sorry accidentally hit report... but while i'm here, this is a very ironic comment! Is it a joke?

sadly,no joke and 12 upticks!

Separatism usually ends up leading to social unrest elsewhere here we appear to have multiple issues all combining housing , separatism, generational divide nz will come under severe strain unless these issues are addressed

The Aussies will soon be over here recruiting. Lots of well paid jobs going begging in Australia. Only need to work there for a couple of years and you have a house deposit. Or a whole house, if you buy somewhere in Australia (outside of Sydney/Melbourne).

Yes moving there is a brilliant option for many people. The Government and RBNZ can't expect people to stay.


Perhaps for once you might try and understand why so many young people in NZ are feeling so distraught. We know you are a well off 50 something who came to NZ and benefitted from coming here with foreign currency and buying property when housing was affordable and got a decent payout from the ChCh earthquake. Pretty much timing and fortune, rather than skill and talent. What have you done for this country other than paid a few motel cleaners the minimum wage.
You seem to have a pretty non-empathetic personality.

Over 50? I would have guessed alot younger!

Can be good to go there for a few years. I would advise against planning on staying permanently if you don't have a clear path to citizenship.