With the New Zealand borders opening up, Immigration New Zealand’s long-awaited Accredited Employer Work Visa (the AEWV) programme has been given a launch date. Employers who currently employ (or are considering employing) skilled migrant workers, and holders of current Work Visas may be affected by the AEWV.
The AEWV will be effective from 4 July 2022 and employers can apply for accreditation from 23 May 2022. Essential Skills Work Visa applications will cease on 3 July 2022.
The AEWV is intended to streamline the process for employers wishing to take on migrant workforce and will completely replace the previously employee-led Essential Skills Works Visa. The most effective way for employers to fill skilled roles with non-resident workers is to become accredited. The AEWV is also intended to replace six of the existing temporary Work Visa categories, including the Silver Fern Work Visas.
However, employers should note that working holiday visas and other visas with working rights will not be captured by the AEWV, and these schemes have started opening up on a rolling basis from mid-March to young holidaymakers from our partner countries.
For an employer to be approved as an Accredited Employer, they must:
To be considered a ‘genuine business’ an employer must:
Clear History of Regulatory Compliance:
Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied that the employer does not have a recent history of non-compliance of immigration and employment standards. A qualified employer must show they have fully complied with the Immigration Act, Employment Relations Act, and all relevant regulations. An eligible employer must declare further they are not on the Labour Inspectorate ‘stand-down list’ for breaches, such as employing a migrant worker in breach of their visa conditions.
Now is a good time to ensure your employment agreement templates are up-to-date and compliant.
Minimise the Risk of Exploitation:
An eligible employer must take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation. They must allow migrant workers to complete online modules on employment rights and obligations and allow them the time to do so. They should also provide guidance to migrant workers about life and work in New Zealand, such as how to obtain an IRD number and how to access the health care system. Employers must declare that they have fully complied with the above and all recruitment requirements, including payment of recruitment fees in or outside of New Zealand.
Before being able to recruit migrant workers for a position, employers must show that they have genuinely attempted to hire New Zealand citizens or residents for that position.
The employer must show that they have advertised the job for at least two weeks with credible recruitment websites or agencies, without finding a suitable New Zealander to fill the role. A rejection of any New Zealand resident or citizen for any role must be for genuine reasons. For instance, the candidate lacks the experience or skills required for the role advertised or they did not show up for the job interview.
It is worth noting that for highly paid jobs, no advertising is required. A highly paid job is one that is paid a minimum of 200% of the median wage ($55.52/ hour).
There are two levels of accreditation depending on the number of migrants an employer wishes to hire. Accreditation levels are:
“Job quota” is the maximum number of migrants an accredited employer may employ or ‘place’ at any given time under accreditation type.
How this works is that, if an employer has standard accreditation, for example, and has four migrant workers already employed, it can apply for one future worker. The ‘place’ in the quota becomes unavailable until the worker’s visa is withdrawn or declined, OR:
In addition to the standard requirements, franchisee employers must:
Businesses that typically place AEWV migrant workers into roles with other organisations or “controlling third parties” are required to meet the following additional criteria:
Such businesses may be for example, labour hire companies, secondment situations, or global companies looking to appoint candidates in their New Zealand branches or companies.
The final step in the process is for the employer to invite the migrant worker to apply for the visa using Immigration Online. Immigration New Zealand will then check whether the employer is accredited, they have a valid job check and the details of the employment are approved as part of the job check. The applicant must be suitably qualified and meet generic requirements of health, character and bona fides. Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied that the applicant is qualified, experienced, and suitable for the job offered. If the migrant fails any of these checks, the application will be declined.
Importantly, Immigration New Zealand will introduce a new pathway to residence as part of the Skilled Migrant Category review. This will be available to migrants who have held an AEWV for two years and paid at least 200% of the median wage.
If you’d like further advice on the New Accredited Employer Work Visa Policy or any other Immigration matter, please contact Jenna Riddle at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Mouhannad Taha at: Mouhannad.email@example.com or 027 742 1032.
 Section 5 of the Employment Relations Act 2000, defines controlling third party as a person: who has a contract or other arrangement with an employer under which an employee of the employer performs work for the benefit of the person; and who exercises, or is entitled to exercise, control or direction over the employee that is similar or substantially similar to the control or direction that an employer exercises, or is entitled to exercise, in relation to the employee.