Immigration department ‘own-goal’?

Drop in migrants hits Govt coffers

Immigration New Zealand could be heading for a record deficit because of the drop in numbers of people coming to this country.A briefing paper to the Immigration Minister says the agency’s memorandum account is forecast to hit a deficit of $44 million at June 30, up from a deficit of $28.1 million recorded last October.

“This is largely a result of a drop in visa application volumes following the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes,” the paper says.

This looks like a huge ‘own-goal’ for the immigration department leading to the first deficit since the current system was introduced in 2001.

While government reports might point to earthquakes and the global recession for the shortfall this does not stack up and the department has been unable to provide any evidence to support this when asked.

Strangely the fact that policy was introduced in January 2010 to cut the number of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) selected by the immigration department under the Skilled Migrant Category which makes up 59% of New Zealand’s Residence Programme. Since then the number of perfectly acceptable EOIs left to expire has been steadily rising as only a third of the EOIs available are being selected.

These policy changes helped drop the New Zealand residence programme figures 4,263 below the minimum quota last year – the first time the quota has been missed since it was introduced. This would have cost the department over $6.2 million in lost fees and levies.

This process has continued and as a result the shortfall caused by policy is calculated to double in the current year with the Immigration department on target to miss the old residence programme quota by a whopping 33%. The drop of 8,442 migrants below quota will lose the government over $12.2 million in fees and levies for residence alone.

This situation could easily be helped by simply putting selection rates for skilled visas back to 2009 levels – there are plenty of applicants available – over 1,200 were left in the pool last selection – but that does not look likely.



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