Overseas Workers Get More New Zealand Visas

Overseas workers get more NZ visas

Thursday January 11, 2007
By Paula Oliver
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand is approving more people for temporary work permits and permanent residency as the Government looks to plug worker shortages.

A detailed analysis of who came here and why in the year to June 30, 2006, was released yesterday in the form of the annual Migration Trends report from the Department of Labour.

It paints a picture of a rapidly rising number of temporary work permit approvals, while permanent residency numbers have also increased after suffering a sharp fall in 2003/04.

Almost 100,000 people were issued temporary work permits in the 2005/06 year, up 21 per cent from the previous year, and continuing a steady rise from just 34,000 in 1999/2000.

The expansion of working holiday schemes with several other countries played a key role in the increase.

New schemes with Norway and Thailand began during the year, and caps were removed on how many people could take up working holiday permits from Britain, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

There are signs that the number of working holiday-makers coming to New Zealand will increase even further, with the total number of places available set to rise to 40,000 in 2006/07 from 36,000 in 2005/06.

Temporary permit numbers were also boosted during the year by an increase in those issued to people for specific purposes or events – such as sporting activities, entertainment, or film and production crew work.

And as temporary work permits rise, permanent resident approvals were also higher in 2005/06 than a year before.

Just over 51,000 people gained approval to be a permanent resident in New Zealand in 2005/06, up from almost 49,000 in 2004/05.

The number is flat when compared with 2001/02, but shows a recovery from 2003/04, when approvals slipped to 39,000.

In terms of permanent and long-term migration, which covers people who arrive in New Zealand intending to stay for 12 months or more, there has been a shift in the main source countries people are arriving from.

The number of arrivals from Asia has decreased, largely because of falling international student numbers.

Conversely, numbers from Europe and particularly the United Kingdom, have increased.

In recent years the number of New Zealand citizens departing long-term has been consistently greater than the number returning from overseas, meaning there has been a steady loss of New Zealand citizens over time.

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe yesterday said that the high number of work permit approvals and other statistics presented in the latest report show New Zealand is successfully attracting the migrants it needs.

The increases were a reflection of the need of employers to get overseas staff, because of low unemployment and a shortage of local workers.

“It shows the Government is responding well with effective immigration measures,” Mr Cunliffe said.