The economic slowdown was blamed after an estimated 2,100 extra foreign residents arrived last year — down from 10,000 at the peak five years ago.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said most immigrants were from eastern Europe or Portugal.
The NISRA report said: “Given the current economic climate, the latest downward trend in inward migration is likely to continue.”
Many migrants work in the service and construction sectors, areas which have been badly affected by the slow recovery.
The latest 2010 statistics point towards a further reduction with national insurance number registrations, Home Office worker registrations and points-based data showing a fall in Northern Ireland registrations.
However the latest statistics from the school census, higher education enrolments and birth registration all remain strong.
The number of workers from outside the European Economic Area is to be capped under coalition plans.
According to NISRA, in the year to June 2009, 23,500 people are estimated to have come to live in Northern Ireland and 21,400 people left. Migration therefore added 2,100 residents to the Northern Ireland population.
In 2009 there were estimated to be 39,000 people of central and eastern European background living in Northern Ireland, around 2% of the population.