The number of people approved as skilled migrants to New Zealand is down 12 per cent, largely due to the global economic downturn.
In its latest report on migration trends the Department of Labour says 13,265 people were approved under the skilled migrant category in the nine months from July 2011 to March 2012, nearly 1800 fewer than in the same period last year.
The decrease was due to the flow-on effect from fewer people coming to New Zealand as essential skills workers, the department said.
People in this category are a key source of future skilled migrants and the demand for these workers slowed from October 2008 with the onset of the global financial crisis.
Essential skills temporary workers approved in the nine-month period decreased by 3 per cent compared with the same period last year.
The country's biggest sources of skilled migrants are the United Kingdom and India, each providing 17 per cent of the total, followed by the Philippines on 12 per cent, China and South Africa at 8 per cent each, and Fiji on 7 per cent.
The numbers of international students approved to study in New Zealand was down 7 per cent on the name nine months in the 2011 year, to 56,741. The largest source country for international students is currently China at 26 per cent of the total, followed by India at 13 per cent, South Korea on 10 per cent, and Japan on 5 per cent.
Meanwhile the number of people approved for a work visa increased 3 per cent, due to increases in the study to work visa and horticulture and viticulture seasonal workers.
Overall the numbers of people being approved for New Zealand residency are steady - 28,674 in the July 2011-March 2012 period, compared with 28,695 at the same time last year.