Annual net migration dips in December as more Kiwis depart

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years.

New Zealand annual net migration dropped in December from a year earlier, with an increase in Kiwis leaving the country.

​Annual net migration was at 70,600 in the year to December, from 71,200 in December 2016, Statistics New Zealand said. The figures show a net 71,100 non-citizens arrived in the year, while a net 1,000 New Zealanders left.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years, which made rising immigration a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and is blamed for inflating property markets. Net migration peaked at 72,400 in the July 2017 year, and the latest figures continue the recent trend of reducing annual net migration levels, Stats NZ said.

"Most migrants are non-New Zealand citizens," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "While arrivals of non-New Zealand citizen migrants increased to 99,300 in the past 12 months, there was also an increase in those leaving the country after migrating here in the past."

Chinese migration continued to be the largest on a net basis, with 9,300 of the 70,000 net arrivals coming from China, though that was down 10 percent on a year earlier. India was the second-largest source at a net 6,700, though Indian net migration was down 24 percent from a year earlier, with a 13 percent drop in annual student visas granted to Indian citizens.

Net migration from the US jumped 65 percent to 2,100, while UK net migration rose 14 percent to 6,400.

China continued to be the biggest source of migrants on residence visas, though that dipped 9.8 percent to 3,100 in the year, while the total number of residence visas dropped 6.5 percent to 15,500.

There was an 11 percent increase in work visas granted in the year, to 46,200, while student visa numbers dropped 2.3 percent to 24,000.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.7 million in the December year, up 6.7 percent from a year earlier. The number of people coming to New Zealand on holiday rose 7.5 percent on an annual basis to 2 million.


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