The immigration doors have been flung wide open again as migrant arrival numbers start heading back up towards pre-pandemic levels.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment show 17,862 people arrived in New Zealand on work visas in February and another 13,638 on student visas.
Overseas worker arrivals slumped to just a few hundred a month between April 2020 and March 2022 as Covid-19 regulations severely restricted international travel.
But their numbers have been increasingly steadily since April last year, and last September passed 10,000 a month for the first time since March 2020.
In the six months from September last year to February this year 86,706 people have arrived in NZ on work visas.
The 17,862 overseas workers who arrived last month were only slightly below pre-Covid levels, with 20,514 arriving in February 2020 and 20,361 arriving in February 2019.
The numbers suggest overseas worker flows are recovering very quickly in the wake of pandemic restrictions, as shown in the first graph below.
Their numbers are likely to keep growing with 20,235 work visas approved in February.
Overseas student numbers are also heading back towards pre-Covid levels.
Their numbers dropped to just a few dozen a month between April 2020 and January last year, down from 21,153 in January 2019.
But their numbers passed 1000 a month for the first time in two years last June, and passed the 10,000 mark last month with 13,638 arrivals.
Student arrivals are very seasonal, following the patterns of the academic year, so it's likely that arrival numbers will drop off sharply again this month before hitting a seasonal peak again in July. (The second graph below shows the monthly student arrival trend).
There has also been a big jump in the number of people receiving residence visas.
Immigration Minister Michael Woods has announced 160,000 people have now been granted residence visas under the special 2021 Residence Visa Scheme, with 80% of applications processed.
As it's name suggests, this scheme was introduced in 2021 to fast track residency for overseas workers who had already been in NZ for several years.
A statement by Woods said the top occupations among those who received the residence visas were nurses, early childhood education teachers, software engineers and primary school teachers.
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