Members of the Association for Migration and Investment say immigrant investor numbers have slumped following a change in Government policy.
The association's conference was told on Friday that 90 people applied last year compared to between 3,000 and 4,000 in some previous years.
The Department of Labour's Mike Christie told the conference the change in criteria meant a fall in the number of applicants was inevitable.
He says the policy was not necessarily aiming for a large number of business migrants, but instead for quality migrants with an active investment programme rather than a passive investment programme.
And the head of Immigration, Andrew Annakin, told the conference that 23 people have submitted expressions of interest since since the active investor category was introduced in November.
He said the 12 applications received so far have the potential to bring up to $50.5 million in investment.