People who showed commitment to Christchurch after the earthquakes ''ought to be rewarded, not turfed out'', a Christchurch MP says.
Figures from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) show that 312 people have so far been given visas to assist with the Canterbury rebuild.
Meanwhile, work visa applications at INZ's Christchurch branch are down but more visas are being declined.
Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel said the Government should consider relaxing the rules for people applying for work visas.
''After the earthquakes local Labour MPs did talk to the Government about how people would leave Christchurch because they had lost their jobs and that's what happened.''
She said INZ wanted to make sure it was ''jobs for Kiwis first''.
''And I don't disagree with that at all but there is enough work to go around and the Government should be training people to take up work with the Canterbury rebuild ... not tightening the rules on skilled migrants who actually want to be in Christchurch and have shown a commitment.''
INZ can only track people coming to Canterbury for the rebuild if they applied for work visas through the Canterbury Skills Shortage List.
Since July 2011 312 visas have been granted to people identified through the list.
Labour and Immigration Research Centre general manager Vasantha Krishnan said 39 visas that were identified for the Canterbury rebuild have been declined.
INZ spokeswoman said people coming into Canterbury were ''hard to track''.
''People might be here on working holiday visas and just happen to come to Christchurch because they think they can find work there or they are applying through different channels, maybe residency.
''We can track the people coming through the Canterbury shortage list but if not then it's different.''
Occupations on the shortage list include construction, engineering and trades.
She did not know how many visa applications INZ was currently working through.
Krishnan said if people met the requirements of the shortage occupations and had a job offer in Canterbury may be given a visa without a labour market check.
INZ carries out market research for all other people applying for work visas.
Former immigration minister and Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said ''losing people who have shown they want to work and stay Christchurch makes no sense''.
He said the Government had ''messed up'' because on the one hand it was jobs for New Zealanders first but on the other hand people would have to be ''imported because Christchurch firms won't be able to get the skilled staff otherwise''.