The heads-up on the New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa

The heads-up on the New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa

On 1 November 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will introduce the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV): a single work visa to replace six of the existing work visas categories.

What is the Accredited Employer Work Visa?

The AEWV is an employer led visa process, as opposed to the current work visa regime which is mainly led by the migrant applicants. It includes an Employer Accreditation process which is the first stage of a three-stage application process.

The AEWV is designed to simplify the employer-assisted work visa application process, better address the skill shortages in New Zealand, and provide migrant workers with better, and more supportive and compliant, working conditions.

On 1 November, the AEWV will replace the following work visas:
• Essential Skills Work Visa
• Essential Skills Work Visa – Approval in Principle
• Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
• Long Term Skills Shortage List Work Visa
• Silver Fern Job Search Visa
• Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

Accredited Employer Work Visas will be issued for either 12 months or 3 years, depending on policy criteria.

No other work visa categories will change so employees holding, for example, partnership or post-study work visas are not impacted.

What do the changes mean for employers?

Applying for the new Employer Accreditation
From 1 November 2021 all employers must first be accredited in order to employ a migrant worker for the new AEWV.

There are three types of employer accreditation:
• Standard – for employers with up to 5 AEWV workers.
• High volume – for employers with 6 or more AEWV workers.
• Other – for labour hire and franchise employers.

Following approval, accreditation will initially be given for 12 months. After that, accreditation can be renewed for 24 months for Standard and High-volume employers, with annual renewals for labour hire and franchise employer accreditation.

The AEWV is a three-stage visa application process
The new application process consists of the:
1. Employer check
2. Job check
3. Migrant worker check.

INZ fees are payable at each check stage. Further information about the fees will be available in August 2021.

Stage One: Employer check
This replaces the previous accreditations for Approval in Principle (Essential Skills), Talent Accredited Employer, and Labour Hire Employers (Essential Skills).

A successful employer check will result in the employer being granted accreditation status. It is understood the Standard Accreditation will be largely automated with the focus being on the employer having a history of employer and visa compliance. The High Volume accreditation will be much more involved and is expected to require evidence of specific migrant worker support and a commitment to increasing the wages and working conditions for all staff. The accreditation process for labour hire/franchise employers is expected to additionally focus on addressing migrant exploitation in the workplace.

Employer accreditation applications can begin to be made from late-September in anticipation of the 1 November implementation date. As there will be a high volume of employer applications it is reasonable to expect significant processing delays.

NB: Employers will not be required to obtain the new employer accreditation until they need to employ a new migrant worker, or renew an existing employee’s visa, on an AEWV. Employees on existing work visas do not trigger the requirement to obtain the new employer accreditation – this only applies to workers applying for the AEWV.

Our advice to employers, and migrant workers, is for those who have work visas expiring in the next 12 months to apply now for new work visas under the current scheme. This will postpone the need to apply for the new AEWV employer accreditation and avoid the expected processing delays when the new policy comes into effect.

The employer check must be made, and paid for, by the employer.

Stage Two: Job check
This check relates to the job and is to ensure the pay rate being offered is at the market rate, that the terms and conditions of the role comply with New Zealand employment law, and that the employer has made a genuine attempt to recruit New Zealanders for the role and before offering the role to a migrant worker.

The employer also needs to pay for the job check.

Stage Three: Migrant worker check
This stage is where the migrant worker applies for the AEWV visa. The worker has to meet INZ’s health, character and credential requirements in order for the AEWV to be granted.

The employer or the worker needs to pay for this check.