Dramatic fall in skilled immigrants applying to be residents

5:53 pm on 31 October 2017

The number of people applying to be skilled migrant residents fell by almost half in the six months after new immigration rules were drawn up.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse

Former Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was aiming for a five percent decrease in resident numbers, but it's more than a third. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The previous government announced new work visa rules in April, although it loosened minimum income requirements when it introduced them in the run-up to the election.

Immigration New Zealand statistics show 4644 skilled migrants applied for residence between April and last month, compared to 9150 in the same period last year.

Overall resident approvals - including other categories such as partnerships - fell by 3700 in the same period.

If the trend continues, resident numbers for the current financial year will be 29,000, compared to 47,684 the year before.

That equated to a 39 percent fall, well below the 5 percent decrease the then-immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said he was aiming for when a residence review was announced last October.

He set a 'planning range' of 85,000 to 95,000 resident approvals over two years, down from between 90,000 and 100,000.

Mr Woodhouse increased the number of points required for residence from 140 to 160 points under the Skilled Migrant Category, and temporarily closed the parent category.

Immigration New Zealand said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had been reviewing the Parent, Partnership and Dependent Child policies and the new government would decide whether it wished the ministry to continue that work.

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