Skilled migrants - a shift to the regions?

4:27 pm on 6 June 2016

A government policy to encourage immigrants to settle in the regions has led to a 45 percent increase in skilled workers being approved for residence visas outside Auckland.

The number of business people applying for visas to set up companies in the regions has also gone up, from five to 62.

But the number of people successfully applying for skilled migrant visas to work in Auckland has also increased.

New Zealand sign

Photo: 123RF

Prime Minister John Key announced last July the government would triple bonus points for immigrants with a job offer in the regions, on the condition they stay there for at least a year.

A similar incentive doubled the points of business people setting up a company outside Auckland who applied for an entrepreneur work visa.

Read RNZ's explanation of how residency points work (July 2015)

Official figures show that, in the first five months of the new scheme, 144 more skilled migrant visa applications were approved for those settling outside Auckland than those in the city (at 2223 compared to 2079).

In the corresponding period a year earlier, 282 more were approved for Auckland than for the regions (1812 compared to 1530).

Overall, nearly 1000 more visas were approved in the five months to April compared to a year earlier - with 4300 this year, compared to 3342 in 2015.

Immigration New Zealand area manager Michael Carley said feedback on the new policy had been very positive.

"But INZ and the government will continue to review and monitor the impact and effectiveness of the policy to ensure regions get the help they need."

Meanwhile, budget papers show the immigration budget blew out by $26.8 million this year.

Immigration New Zealand said the volume of visa applications was higher than forecast, primarily due to higher numbers of visitors from Asia, and an increase in work and residence applications.

But it said the increased expenditure incurred in processing the higher volumes was offset by an equivalent increase in revenue from visa fees.

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