Citizens and residents will no longer need to travel with their overseas partners and children in order for them to return to New Zealand.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says Cabinet decided yesterday that the restriction should be lifted, although family members will still have to apply to come in.

He told Nine to Noon ministers would next consider how they open up entry criteria for work visa holders stuck overseas.

He said he understands people's frustration, but capacity at isolation facilities is one of the factors the government has to take into account.

Some immigrants will have to think seriously about the long-term viability of their work situation, as they were filling gaps in the labour market that may no longer exist, he said.

Businesses are keen to get more clarity on when restrictions will be lifted, but Finance Minister Grant Robertson said they would remain in place for a significant period.