National wants to give the green light to residency for skilled migrants already in the country.
The party's proposing a three-year Covid Contribution Visa to keep the about 35,000 essential skills workers and their families on New Zealand shores.
It's also keen for fast-track processing to clear the backlog of more than 30,000 residency applications.
The proposals come as the Government comes under increasing pressure over its immigration settings, in particular those seeking residency but also migrant families who have been split up since the border closed to non-residents.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signalled the stalled residency application queue was next on its to-do list with decisions in "short order".
Due to Covid's impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the skilled migrant category (SMC) in 2020.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi received advice on managing the situation in April, but was yet to make any decision.
National Party leader Judith Collins said "desperately needed" skilled migrants who moved to New Zealand before the lockdown with the promise there would be a pathway to residency for them and their families were leaving.
"In the last four years this Government, through poor planning and poor policy, has completely broken our immigration system so that we now have the longest queues for residence in our history and record wait times for getting residence visas processed.
"We can't afford to lose any more doctors, engineers, teachers and IT workers because they have no certainty around when they can become a resident."
At the same time the Government was trying to find space in MIQ for other foreign workers to replace those leaving, she said.
"It is madness in a time of skill shortages and MIQ shortages."
National's plan would unfreeze the residency pool and streamline and fast-track residency processing to clear the backlog of more than 30,000 applications, she said.
"Then we need to offer our migrant workers here a pathway to residency.
"These are our dairy farmer workers, aged care workers, truck drivers, construction workers and hospitality staff who are in New Zealand because there was a skills shortage."
The party would also decouple visas from a specific employer to stop migrant exploitation.
"A smarter approach is bonding people to sectors and regions which would make sure the right skills are in the right regions," Collins said.
The record low unemployment announced on Wednesday gave a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to offer a pathway to residence for those migrants here through a "Covid Contribution Visa".
"We expect this to affect around 35,000 Essential Skills workers and their families that will be processed in the next few years once we have cleared the current residency backlog.
"In the meantime we will offer all of these workers a three-year work visa so they do not have to keep reapplying while they wait."
A question in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll found 61 per cent of respondents thought there should be more exemptions at the border.
That same poll saw Labour's support dive 9.7 percentage points from the last poll in May to 43 per cent.