Federated Farmers and other business groups have welcomed the Government extension of Essential Skills visas.
The farming group says the 12-month extension has recognised the need for valuable migrant staff working in our dairy sector.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi also announced the application process would be streamlined to make it easier for employers and visa holders while the border remains closed.
The two-year Essential Skills visa would provide certainty to at least 18,000 visa holders
and the Government says the streamlined application process would help at least 57,000 visa holders.
Last month the Business Herald highlighted the impact of labour shortages in the series Out of Workers.
"These valued staff are offering just what their visa says, essential skills to the New Zealand dairy industry," Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesman Chris Lewis said.
From Monday the maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage, ($25.50) will increase from 12 months to 24 months.
The maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid above the median wage will remain at three years.
"Alongside the need for the current exception process for bringing new workers across the border, keeping hold of those good people already here working in our industry has been the other key part of the message from Feds and Dairy NZ," Lewis said.
"We don't want these people taking their good skills and work habits and exiting the country because of visa uncertainty, and this is an important step to help keeping them here. We are doing what we can to attract Kiwis to the industry, but all provincial employers feel like they are fighting over the same scraps of the labour force pie at the moment."
The requirements for all employers and workers to move to the Accredited Employer Work Visa, which was due to come into effect on November 1, will be delayed until the middle of next year.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa says tourism employers around New Zealand and their employees on work visas ''will be delighted and relieved'' by the announcement.
A work visa holder can also move to a new employer, if a Labour Market test shows there are no suitable New Zealanders available for that role.
Tourism businesses from accommodation and hospitality to transport and activity operators are facing real challenges in filling vacancies, Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said.
"Employers don't want to lose the great people they already have. And today's announcement gives skilled and trained migrant workers who have chosen New Zealand as their temporary home some security. TIA applauds the Government for listening to business concerns."
Roberts said the decision to delay the introduction of the new accredited employer work visa scheme was sensible.
"TIA has long supported this change to the system but giving employers more time to get accredited is helpful."
New Zealand Winegrowers said changes would help employers retain their skilled staff and provide certainty for businesses and their staff.
"Skilled international wine talent makes a vital contribution to our industry, and these changes will support our industry's growth," New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said.
Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Brett O'Riley says it is a step in the right direction to addressing labour demand.
"We've long said that we need to prioritise those we already have in the country to fill the skills gap that has always existed here but been exacerbated by border closures.
"Our members have been telling us they've been losing people to their home countries because they haven't had applications processed quickly enough, or had any certainty," he said.
"We understand the Government's longer-term vision is to grow more talent here and build a more self-reliant labour market and we wholeheartedly support that, but migrants are part of the fabric of our society and will always be needed."
O'Riley said the EMA was keen to continue to work with the Government to break down barriers that enable migrants to continue to contribute to the New Zealand.
It also supports calls for an amnesty for Pacific Island overstayers, given the resulting opportunity to increase participation in the workforce and in education.