A New Plymouth engineering firm that kept on foreign welders while sacking local workers says it is close to securing a contract which will create 24 new jobs.
Immigration New Zealand has cancelled visa variations that allowed six Filipinos to do general welding at MCK Metals Pacific, limiting the workers to specialist duties under their original visas.
The Government says the visa variations would have been declined if officials knew that MCK was considering redundancies.
But MCK managing director Pramod Khatri says retaining the skills of the Filipino welders was best for New Zealand, allowing the company to aggressively pursue major jobs.
Earlier, MCK had said the recession reduced demand for the specialist work so the overseas workers had to spend some time on other tasks.
It said without the Filipino welders it stood to lose a multimillion-dollar contract - threatening further redundancies for locals and with sub-contractors.
Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman says the decision sends message to employers that as unemployment grows authorities must ensure temporary work permits are only issued to cover genuine skill shortages.
However, Mr Coleman says its up to MCK whether to send the Filipino workers home.