New Zealand immigrants hit 50,000 in 2011

Date: Dec 23, 2011

Nearly 1,000 New Zealanders have been leaving their home country to find their fortunes in the West Island every week, according to new migration data.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that a large-scale population movement seems to be taking place over the last year, with 50,115 making the trip over the last 12 months.

Conversely, only 14,357 chose to make the journey back home - leaving NZ with a population shift of 35,758 inside of a year - meaning that nearly a whole percent of the country has joined in the move.

Many are in Australia for working opportunities - seeking roles in the mining and resources industries that can deliver them with increased wages.

New Zealanders are able to make use of the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement (TTTA), which allows citizens from the two countries to freely travel to and live in each country without needing to apply for authorisation in advance.

While the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) requires that all lawful non-citizens living in Australia are in possession of a visa, the Special Category Visa (SCV) is automatically applied to their passport on arrival.

For businesses looking to hire extra workers, this can be a very useful feature - meaning that the paperwork required to hire international workers in many cases is greatly reduced.

Because the SCV is recorded electronically, the only evidence needed to prove that a NZ citizen is in possession of the visa is a valid passport stamped with their date of entry into the country.

From there, New Zealanders are able to legally live and work in Australia without needing to apply for permanent residency - unless they are intending to eventually become a citizen or are seeking certain welfare payments not covered by the TTTA.

Another option being adopted more frequently by mining companies is the use of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employment arrangements - where resource workers make an extra-long commute across the Tasman every few weeks.

This allows businesses to access the talent pools they need while giving international staff members the opportunity to earn an increased wage without having to relocate their family.

While the TTTA makes the hiring of New Zealand labour a viable option for many businesses, migration lawyers can help to ensure that employers are able to deliver contracts and conditions that are in line with the relevant legislation.

There has been mixed views on the use of FIFO arrangements back in New Zealand, with the mayor of Gisborne Meng Foon said that many of his 46,000 constituents had already left.

Foon said: "At the end of the day the honest truth is that the wages are much better over there, and if I was younger I'd go over, too."