Bigger numbers lead to flow-on for work visas and skilled migration
India is the largest source country of new international students to New Zealand and second largest source of skilled migrants, a Department of Labour report has found.
Last year, Indians made up 13 per cent of skilled migrants entering the country, up from 8 per cent the previous year, with nearly 10,500 arriving, according to the Migration Trends and Outlook 2010-11 released yesterday.
"While there was a global slowdown in the number of permanent migrants and temporary workers, international student numbers to New Zealand continue to rise, up 2 per cent to 74,800 over the past year. Most new students are now coming from India," the report said.
"The growth of Indian students has had a flow-on effect to work visas and skilled migration from India. This pattern mirrors what we have already seen with the growth in Chinese export education over the last decade."
China remains the single largest source country for international students.
The students are an important source of skilled migrants, as the global economic slowdown takes a hit on migration numbers.
Over the period, 21,212 people were approved through the skilled migrant category, where the UK remains the largest source country although numbers have been decreasing steadily since 2004. India, increasing from 8 per cent to 13 per cent, has replaced South Africa as the second largest source of skilled migrants.
Last year's net migration of 3900 was the lowest since 2000/01, and the 40,737 permanent migrants failed to meet the planning level of 45,000 to 50,000 places.
"The decrease reflects the impact of the recession on migration opportunities, particularly for skilled migration, as well as disruptions following the Canterbury earthquake of 22 February," the report said. "Fewer job offers have been available and the lower number of skilled temporary workers continue to impact on skilled permanent migration."
The largest source countries for migrants were the UK (16 per cent), China (13 per cent), India (10 per cent) and South Africa (8 per cent). The net loss of New Zealanders to Australia increased from 16,700 in 2009-10 to 30,500 last year.
"The global economic slowdown continues to have an impact on migration, especially migration driven by labour demand," said Jeremy Corban, deputy chief executive policy and research. "Like other OECD countries, New Zealand has not been immune to the decrease in skilled migration ... over the last 12 months, a series of natural disasters has also had a significant influence on migration and tourism activity."
Mr Corban said globally the demand for skilled migrants was expected to increase as economies recover and struggle to meet the demands of ageing populations. The Christchurch earthquakes, Japanese tsunami and Chilean volcanic ash clouds also had a negative impact on visitor numbers.
Vasantha Krishnan, general manager Department of Labour and Immigration research centre, said the forecast was for permanent and long-term migration to return to a net gain later this year and early next year.
"This research shows that permanent and long-term migration has followed a cyclical pattern over the last 60 years ... of peak net losses at the end of each decade." She said the Canterbury rebuild would lift demand for skills, contributing to the reversal, and there was also an expectation fewer Kiwis would move to Australia.
"The Australian labour market shows signs of slowing, as employment prospects in New Zealand improve, departures to Australia are forecast to ease."
* 13 per cent of the skilled migrants entering the country last year were Indian.
* India has replaced South Africa as the second-largest source of skilled migrants.
* The United Kingdom is the largest source country for skilled migrants.
* 21,212 people were approved under the category.