Migrant workers in trouble have no one to turn to for help and groups wanting to help find themselves unable to, says a migrant aid group.

"Foreign workers on temporary permits simply fall between the cracks in services provided," said Mike Bell, spokesman for the Skilled Migrant Information Centre.

The Christchurch-based group, which represents migrant workers mainly from Britain, continental Europe and South Africa, has been warned by the office of Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson for helping the family of a German migrant worker who lost his job in the recession.

"It appears you are an unlicensed onshore immigration adviser. While you have this status, under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007, you should not provide immigration advice to any client," private secretary Emma Hope wrote.

"Please raise your concerns with the German Embassy as the family have already been advised by Immigration New Zealand they are unable to assist."

The Christchurch-based group helped the family find food and shelter after they ran out of money.

Meanwhile, Philippine Consul-General Emilie Shi says she will be requesting an urgent meeting with Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman because many migrant workers are not coping with the stress of losing their jobs.

Many are here on work-to-residency permits but as the economy tightens and Kiwis get preference for jobs, the migrants are often being refused visa extensions.

Ms Shi knew of one Filipino migrant worker who suffered a stroke after a failed residency application left his family in limbo, and another who had taken his own life.

"The situation is really getting out of hand, and I am seeing new tears and new cases almost every day," Ms Shi said.

"I want to meet the minister not just to highlight what is happening, but to find out once and for all if there are any plans to help these people. I cannot believe the New Zealand Government can be so cruel.

"Research has repeatedly shown the value of migrants to the economy and tourism, especially in trade and export, and I will be asking the Immigration Minister to tell this to Kiwis who are unhappy with immigration, instead of kicking migrant workers out."

A research paper released on Tuesday by the NZ Institute of Economic Research found the immigration policy focus on skills shortages overlooked the part migrants play in linking NZ to international markets.

The study said that if New Zealand receives 10 per cent more migrants from a particular country, exports to that country grow by 0.6 per cent and imports from it by 1.9 per cent, and that migrants from non-English cultures also have the greatest impact when it comes to stimulating tourism.

Director Kenneth Leong, whose employees at Ponsonby language academy Euroasia are all immigrants, said the changes to policy have stopped employers employing the people they wanted. He said stopping employers from retaining employees added to the financial burden of many companies struggling in the current economic climate.

"Businesses are being lumped with further costs to retrain new staff, and many may not have the money or resources to do so in the current recession," said Mr Leong.

"By not renewing the work permits of migrant employees, what Immigration is effectively doing is removing the right of employers to keep the people they want, and possibly killing some local business operations as well."