New Zealand, whose economy depends heavily on skilled immigrants, is experiencing a slump in newcomers following the recent earthquake and the global financial crisis of a few years ago, according to new statistics released by the government.

The number of people immigrating to New Zealand during the first nine months of the current financial year was 28,675; This represents a significant reduction in immigration to New Zealand compared to the 33,526 migrants who emigrated to New Zealand during the same period in 2008-09.

New Zealand is hoping to hand out between 45,000 and 50,000 permanent residence visas for the current financial year, with priority given to skilled workers.

In February of 2011, an earthquake devastated the city of Christchurch, causing an estimated NZD $13 billion in damage.

According to the government report, this likely contributed to the decline in immigration.

“The earthquake has had an impact on migration trends in the current financial year,” Statistics New Zealand said in its report.

“The immediate impact of the earthquake was mainly seen in reduced visitor arrivals. However, the full impact of the earthquake on migration flows may emerge in the coming months,” they added.

With New Zealand falling short on skilled migrants, now may be a good time to apply for skilled immigration to New Zealand.