Employee Visas

What you should know about supporting your migrant workers.

A typical business in New Zealand, be it large or small, will have a workforce made up of New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and temporary visa holders.

These could be student visa holders with part-time work rights, working holiday visa holders with casual but full-time work rights or partnership or post study work visa holders. However, many of these migrant workers will be employer-supported (assisted) work visa holders such as Accredited Employer Work Visa, Essential Skills Work Visa or Work to Residence visa holders. From 4 July 2022, a new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will replace these Essential Skills, Talent (Accredited Employer) and LTSSL work visas. All employers supporting migrant workers on this new visa will need to be accredited

With so many changes, it is important for HR and employers to manage their employee visas in a timely manner and in accordance with the immigration policy live at the time of submission. Special attention must be paid to changing policies and cut off dates for work visa categories that will be retired over the next few months. 

The new ‘Employer-led’ 3-step process, which has now become effective, sees the 3 major work visa categories close for new applications; these are:

These will be replaced by AEWV, which is the last step of a 3-stage process. Without the first 2 steps in this process being completed, the AEWV cannot be submitted. AEWV can be applied only once the employer is accredited and a job check is approved by Immigration New Zealand.  

First stage – Employer accreditation

A New Zealand employer who wants to support a non - New Zealand resident or citizen on a work visa must be accredited. Applications for Accreditation now open. This cost is to be borne by employers. This accreditation is not required if they wish to hire migrants on visas offering open work rights (this means the holder can work for any employer and for any job) – partnership work visas, student visas, working holiday and post study work visas. However, during 2024 a new requirement will come into effect requiring employers to be accredited to employ any migrant (including open work visas, working holidaymakers, students etc).

Second Stage – Job Check

Employers also pay for a job check. The job check will confirm the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with our employment laws, and you have done a labour market test if you need to. A labour market test shows you have genuinely advertised the role to New Zealanders and there are no New Zealanders available to do the job. An employer can only hire a migrant worker if the job check is passed. Applications for Job Check now open.

Third Stage – AEWV

The migrant worker check is where the migrant worker applies for a visa. It is the last step in the AEWV process and can only be done if the above two stages are cleared. The migrant worker must show they meet INZ’s character, identity and health requirements, are bona fide and meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application. Migrant workers or employers can pay for this check. Migrants can apply for an AEWV once the employer is accredited, and a job check has been completed.

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