New Zealand attracts fewer migrants, aims for more students

22 April 2005

On 21 April Statistics New Zealand announced that permanent migrant arrivals fell 64 percent to 10,010 in the 12 months ending March 31 from 27,980 a year earlier, citing unadjusted figures. Just two days before that, Immigration Minister Paul Swain announced that the country had changed rules to make it easier for international students to work and study in the country, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Under the new rule, foreign students who have graduated from a course that would gain points under certain skilled migrant category will be eligible for a six month open work permit. The pool of students eligible to work part time while studying will be expanded to include Year 12 and 13 school students and some English language students. Moreover, eligible students will be able to apply to work for up to 20 hours a week during the term, instead of the current 15 hours. Anyone undertaking a course of 12 months or more will be able to apply to work full-time over the summer holidays.

Swain said that the changes, which will come into force from July 4, will give more opportunities for foreign students to gain work permits after they have completed their studies.

He said changes of rules will better align the student immigration policy with government's international education strategy as well as making sure New Zealand remains competitive in the global market for students.

A drop in immigration

New Zealand gained fewer migrants in March 2005 than a year earlier. At the same time, many New Zealanders are leaving New Zealand for Australia, according to reports.

Migrant arrivals exceeded departures by 300, Statistics New Zealand announced, citing seasonally adjusted figures. That's fewer than the 1,290 in March last year. There were 480 more arrivals than departures in February. The nation's central bank assumes annual immigration will fall to as low as 8,600 in 2005 from about 15,000 in 2004.

The number of tourists and short-term visitors rose 4.9 percent in March from February, seasonally adjusted, the statistics agency said. From a year earlier, tourist arrivals increased 10 percent. Tourists on average stayed one day less than in March last year.

Tourist arrivals rose 10.4 percent in the year ended March 31 from the previous year, the agency said citing unadjusted figures.

New Zealanders departing for holidays or business trips rose 6.8 percent from February, seasonally adjusted, and jumped 18 percent from March 2004, the agency said.