A third of New Zealand migrants on benefits?

Yesterday Nathan Guy, New Zealand’s new Minister for Immigration, stated in an interview with TV One’s breakfast show that a third of migrants in New Zealand are claiming a benefit.

I just don’t know where to start with this one. I had been hoping to stay on a positive footing with this new Minister…

Actually I can’t imagine (beyond outright racism) what an Immigration Minister could have done to cause more damage to his portfolio.

It lookslike Mr. Guy has single-handedly:

  • undermined the entire immigration department (which delivers a multi-billion dollar profit to NZ every year); and
  • tried his hardest to scare off as many globally mobile skilled workers as possible.

What makes this statement incredible is that:

  1. The majority (85%) of migrants arriving in NZ each year aren’t eligible to claim any kind of benefit as they are on temporary visas: temporary workers, students etc.
  2. Of the other migrants – the ones who would gain residency:
    • 60% are not eligible to claim for benefits for the first two years (skilled/business stream);
    • 31% are family sponsored meaning that if they claim benefits during the first five years of being in NZ the money is reclaimed from their sponsor

That leaves just 1% of migrants coming into the country (9% of residents) who can claim benefits during the first two years of being in New Zealand.

It should be mentioned that this group enter New Zealand through the humanitarian stream, many as refugees which effectively form New Zealand’s international good work.

Migrants generally cannot get in to New Zealand without a job offer and because of this rates of migrant employment are very high.

Benefit to New Zealand
The immigration department applies a strict set of rules against each application which are aimed at encouraging gain for New Zealand while protecting this country from loss.

For this system to work is must provide a greater benefit to New Zealand than it costs. The latest government research provided in its International Migration Outlook for 2009/10 confirmed that for 2005/06 (the last time gain was fully calculated by government) immigration delivered $8.1 billion into the New Zealand economy that year.

The report confirms that while the New Zealand population of 3.1 million people had contributed $2.83 billion to the economy that year the migrant population of 927,000 (i.e. all of the migrants including new and those who had been here for many years) had contributed a much greater $3.28 billion.

This clearly confirms that the immigration system, which has not significantly changed since 2006, is working extremely well in providing New Zealand with people who continue throughout their lives to contribute to the economy rather than a mass who claim benefits and drain the system.

I have written to the Immigration Minister to ask about these statements and will update once I hear back.



Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “A third of New Zealand migrants on benefits?”

  1. move2nz Says:

    What really surprises me about this is that the Minister has stated aims in attracting and retaining high value skilled migrants.

    For example the leaked briefing for the Minister dated 12/12/11 titled “ISSUES AND DECISIONS FOR THE FIRST 100 DAYS – IMMIGRATION” states the following intentions:

    “ensure New Zealand attracts the appropriate people to fill skill gaps in the labour market through targeted attraction, settlement and retention of migrants”


    “Focus support at key long term skill shortage sectors – health, ICT, engineering – as well as niche, high potential sectors and engaging with these via New Zealand Trade & Enterprise channels.”

    Any globally mobile skilled worker hearing that they are likely to be on a benefit within 18 months of arrival – even if they have a job offer is hardly like to choose New Zealand as a likely destination to further their career and be a safe place to bring up their children.

    These are the very people that the Minister is supposed to be trying to attract, yet he is making statements which will send them straight off somewhere else.

    Personally I believe that Nathan Guy has a different definition of ‘migrant’, a different definition of ‘benefit’ and no idea of the damage he will cause with these misleading comments.

    I’m sure the immigration department is delighted he has been brought in to lead them.


  2. Daz Says:

    NZ should really try to stop immigrants who get special study visas in order that tbey stay and work in NZ. I know a lot of this group who stay the obligatory 3yrs work get citzenship tjen move to australia? Go figure. What a waste of money. They all come with Nz qualifications boasting AUstralia is their prime goal. Nz is just a step up. Nz being taken for a ride by Indians and Chinese alike.

    • move2nz Says:

      Hi Daz,

      New Zealand works very hard to attract high value migrants through our Graduate Study to Work programme as they add millions of dollars to our educational institutions, helping support the services that educate New Zealanders.

      It would be incorrect to state that this is a waste of money as New Zealand makes a significant profit. I would also draw a comparison with the number of New Zealanders who gain a qualification and then leave our shores, I believe the percentage is extremely high.

      The main point of the article you have replied to was that false information had been provided by a politician to the public and as a result this increased anti-migrant feelings, created concerns for a cost to New Zealand and increased misunderstanding of the true position.

      The comment you have made is in the same vein as for a graduate to go through this process takes significantly longer than three years:
      – 2 years studying in NZ;
      – 1 year Graduate Job Search Visa
      – 1 – 2 years Graduate Work Experience Visa
      – Residency (maybe)
      – 5 years before they could apply for NZ citizenship.

      So the true wait for such applicants would be 9 – 10 years all up. During this time they have spent a significant amount of money in New Zealand, worked in a skilled job paying taxes and contributed mightily to our economy.

      To say this would be a waste of money or is in some way unfair or unjust to New Zealand is therefore wrong. Just as with the politician in question, your incorrect comments are generalisations likely to increase anti-migrant feelings, create unwarranted concerns for a cost to New Zealand and increase misunderstanding of the true position.

      I hope more people (and especially our politicians) take time to learn about and understand what is an excellent immigration system returning many billions of dollars to New Zealand every year.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: