New Zealand's Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said in a speech that the government was unapologetic that industries relying on overseas workers are finding it harder to recruit people from abroad.
"We are absolutely committed to the principle of Kiwis first," he said.
Woodhouse said the changes would control the number and improve the quality of immigrants.
The latest changes come during an election year, when many people have expressed alarm at the immigration rate. The majority of immigrants are from China, India and the United Kingdom.