Immigration New Zealand says an announcement on its website that the Skilled Migrant Category visa has closed is a mistake.
It follows changes last month when points for approval of residency for skilled migrants was raised from 140 to 160 points.
A notification on the agency's website this morning said the Skilled Migrant Category resident visa was closed indefinitely.
"We changed the relevant page in October to add in a notification that the Skilled Migrant Category policy had changed. The notification was supposed to expire last night, but inadvertently the page was set up to show the policy had closed, instead of the notification disappearing," said Immigration spokesman Marc Piercey.
"This error was due to putting the expiry date for the notification in the wrong place."
Piercey said the mistake was fixed after the Herald brought the matter to its attention.
"The category is definitely open for applicants and despite what was said on the website registrants were still able to create and submit expressions of interest while the wrong information was displayed," he said.
"Immigration New Zealand apologises unreservedly for the error."
Would-be applicant Rajen Joshi said the notification nearly gave him "a heart attack".
"I was in the process of putting my application together and was totally shocked when I saw it," said Joshi, an IT specialist.
Licensed immigration adviser Paola Neilson said thousands of people could be affected, as well as many industries, if the Skilled Migrant Category was closed.
"With all the uncertainty around policy and proposed changes, one could only think there may be intentions to close the category for an indefinite period," Neilson said.
"Who knows as usually changes happen suddenly without any prior warning."
Almost half of all residence approvals last year, or 21,165, were through the skilled migrant category.
India was the largest source country for skilled migrants (21 per cent) followed by the Philippines (13 per cent) and the United Kingdom (11 per cent).