Migration Trends and Outlook 2014/2015

Migration Trends and Outlook 2014/2015 (pdf)
01 Nov 2015

This annual report is the 15th in a series that examines trends in temporary and permanent migration to and from New Zealand. The report updates trends to 2014/15 and compares recent immigration patterns with patterns identified in previous years.



This report is the 15th in an annual series about temporary and permanent migration trends to and from New Zealand. This report updates trends to the end of 2014/15 and has been prepared for:

  • policy-makers concerned with migration flows and their impacts
  • the wider public with an interest in immigration policy and outcomes.

Key Results

Canterbury returns to normal

Canterbury has the second highest regional net migration gain of 6,400 people. A net outflow of permanent and long-term migrants followed the earthquake in February 2011, but since 2011/12 the number of arrivals has steadily increased. Although the number of people approved for Essential Skills work visa in Canterbury in 2014/15 increased, it was a much smaller increase than in the previous three years, suggesting the rebuild might have reached capacity. Importantly for Canterbury's economy, the number of international students coming to the region is rebounding, with the number of new students up 20 per cent on 2013/14.

Net Migration continues to grow

A net migration gain of 58,300 people occurred in 2014/15, the highest net gain ever recorded. This was due to a low migration loss of New Zealand citizens (5,600 people) combined with a large net gain of non-New Zealand citizens (63,900 people). Net migration is forecast to rise slightly until September 2015 before dropping back.

International student numbers on the increase again

a total of 84,856 international students were approved to study in New Zealand, an increase of 16 per cent from 2013/14, the second year-on-year increase. China has remained the largest source country of international students (27 per cent) followed by India (23 per cent) and South Korea (6 per cent). The numbers from India continue to rise sharply.

Numbers of temporary workers increased across the three main work categories

A total of 170,814 people were granted a work visa, an increase of 10 per cent from 2013/14. Those approved to work in New Zealand under the Essential Skills policy rose 8 per cent from 2013/14. This was the third year-on-year increase in Essential Skills workers since the global financial crisis, and it reflects the ongoing demand for labour in New Zealand. Across the three main work policies, the number of people approved for work visas in 2014/15 increased compared with 2013/14 - Working Holiday Schemes increased 12 per cent, Essential Skills policy 8 per cent and Family policy 9 per cent.

One in six international students gained residence

International students have become an important source of skilled migrants for New Zealand and in other OECD countries. By 30 June 2015, 17 per cent of students had transitioned to residence five years after their first student vias. In 2014/15, 43 per cent of skilled principal migrants were former international students.

Skilled principal migrants largely have New Zealand Work experience

Research shows migrants have better employment outcomes if they have New Zealand work experience. By 30 June 2015, 18 per cent of temporary workers had transitioned to residence three years after their first work visa. Most (93 per cent) of the 11,845 principal migrants approved for a Skilled/Business resident visa in 2014/15 previously held a temporary visa, with almost all those visas being a work visa (96 per cent).

Permanent migration

In 2014/15, 43,085 people were approved for resident visas, down from 2 per cent from 2013,14. The increase in those approved under the Skilled Business stream (6 per cent increase) was not enough to offset the decrease in those coming through the Family stream (down 14 per cent). The largest source counties of permanent migrants to New Zealand were China (17 per cent), India (16 per cent) and the United Kingdom (11 per cent).

India is the largest source of skilled migrants

In 2014/15, 21,165 people were approved through the Skilled Migrant Category, almost half of all residence approvals (49 per cent). The number of Skilled Migrant Category approvals increased 4 per cent from 2013/14. This increase illustrates a flow-on effect to residence from the recent upward trend in Essential Skills (temporary) workers and the growth in Indian international students transitioning to residence. India was the largest source country of skilled migrants (21 per cent) followed by the Philippines (13 per cent) and the United Kingdom (11 per cent).

China is the largest source country of family-sponsored migrants

In 2014/15, 8,922 people were approved for residence through the Partnership Category and 4,477 people were approved through the Parent Category. Family approvals made up 35 per cent of all residence approvals. China was the largest source country of residence approvals in the Parent Category (50 per cent) and slightly behind India in the Partnership Category (India 16 per cent and China 15 per cent).

Around half of International/Humanitarian Stream approvals were from Pacific countries

Over 1,400 people were approved residence through the Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category in 2014/15, with Samoa and Tonga being the largest source countries of approvals. In addition to the Pacific quotas, 901 people were approved through the Refugee Quota Programme. The largest source countries of Quota Refugees in 2014/15 were Afghanistan (27 per cent) and Myanmar (22 per cent).



Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018