Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today.
In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain of 5,200 New Zealand citizens, and a net loss of 3,500 non-New Zealand citizens.
The same five months in 2019 saw a net loss of 2,700 New Zealand citizens, and net gain of 24,300 non-New Zealand citizens, resulting in an overall net gain of 21,500.
“Monthly migrant flows remain well below levels in previous years,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.
“COVID-19 border and travel restrictions, along with capacity constraints in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, continue to limit people’s ability to travel.”
Annual net migration in the year ended August 2020 is provisionally estimated at 71,500, with 69,800 of this in the seven months leading up to border restrictions. In the previous six years ended August, annual net migration averaged around 53,000.
“Many people who arrived in New Zealand in late-2019 and early-2020 have not yet returned overseas, and are staying longer than usual,” Mr Islam said.
These include New Zealand citizens, along with people arriving on temporary visas such as visitor visas and 'other' visa types for seasonal horticulture and viticulture workers.
“Typically, there is a peak in New Zealand citizens migrating back around December each year, however last December this peak was significantly higher and remained higher than usual through to March 2020,” Mr Islam said.
“There was also a higher than usual number of migrant arrivals on visitor visas and other temporary visas, including seasonal workers, who typically would have returned overseas by now.”
As people stay longer, they are more likely to be estimated as a migrant arrival. The ongoing stay of people who arrived before border and travel restrictions is keeping net migration estimates at high levels before April 2020.
Migration estimates could be revised up or down depending on whether these people stay in New Zealand or head back overseas. Estimates become final about 17 months after the reference month.
From April 2020 to August 2020 there were 41,800 arrivals and 90,000 departures across the New Zealand border, compared with 2.65 million arrivals and 2.78 million departures in the same period in 2019.
On average, there were 8,400 arrivals and 18,000 departures in each month from April to August 2020. This includes a mix of short-term travellers and migrants.
From April 2020 to August 2020, 67 percent of arrivals were New Zealand citizens, and 84 percent of departures were non-New Zealand citizens.
‘Migrant arrivals’ are overseas residents, including New Zealand citizens living overseas, who cumulatively spend 12 of the next 16 months in New Zealand after arriving.
‘Migrant departures’ are New Zealand residents, including non-New Zealand citizens living in New Zealand, who cumulatively spend 12 of the next 16 months out of New Zealand after departing.
Migrant arrivals and departures include the flows of New Zealand citizens as well as the flows of non-New Zealand citizens as both affect the population living in New Zealand.
The classification of travellers as migrants is based on their time spent in and out of New Zealand, not what visa type or passport they cross the border on, and not on their responses on arrival cards. Given this, we need to observe up to 16 months of travel history, using the 12/16-month rule, to definitively classify a border crossing as a migrant movement. Border crossing data after August 2020 therefore informs the latest migration estimates.
2 February 2020: New Zealand Government placed entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China (see New Zealand to restrict travel from China to protect against coronavirus).
2 March 2020: Travel restrictions for China and Iran to continue, and people entering the country from South Korea and northern Italy told to go into self-isolation (see Travel restrictions reconfirmed as precaution against COVID-19).
14 March 2020: Every person entering New Zealand from anywhere in the world required to self-isolate for 14 days, excluding the Pacific.
19 March 2020: New Zealand’s borders closed to almost all travellers, except for returning New Zealanders (see Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19) and New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas (see New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas).
24 March 2020: Tens of thousands of New Zealanders travelling overseas advised to shelter in place (see New Zealanders overseas encouraged to shelter in place).
2 April 2020: New Zealand Government announced that domestic travel restrictions would be relaxed to facilitate the departure of overseas visitors (see Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit).
7 April 2020: New Zealand Government announced New Zealand to enter into transit arrangements with a number of countries to make it easier for each other’s citizens to get home (see Managed transit allows stranded travellers to get home).
9 April 2020: New Zealand Government announced mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arrivals (see Prime Minister’s remarks halfway through Alert Level 4 lockdown).
7 July 2020: New Zealand Government announced bookings on incoming Air New Zealand flights to be managed to align arrival numbers with capacity available in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (see Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings).
11 August 2020: New Zealand Government introduced a payment system for arrivals for the use of managed isolation and quarantine facilities (see Managed isolation charges to start 11 August).