Mandatory employer accreditation
From mid-2022, Immigration New Zealand will introduce new rules under which an employer must be accredited to hire any migrant worker on the new Accredited Employer Temporary Work Visa.
Under the new rules, all employers will have to obtain accreditation in order to secure the employment of a migrant worker on an employer assisted work visa. This will be the first part of a three-stage process whereby Immigration New Zealand assess the employer, the labour market, and finally the worker themselves. If an employer is not accredited, they will not be able to hire any migrants on employer-assisted work visas.
When do you need to get accreditation?
- Businesses employing migrants who hold a current talent or essential skill visa don’t need to become accredited until they want to hire someone on the new visa or until their employees’ visas run out and they need to support them for the next one, after mid-2022. You only need to become accredited before you actually need to submit the visa.
- You do not need accreditation if you are only hiring migrants on visas with open work rights such as on student visa, partnership-based work visa, working holiday and post study work visas.
- Currently accredited employers will also have to apply again, as the requirements of accreditation under the new system and current are different, however, they may not have to start the process from scratch.
There are 2 major types of employer accreditation levels – Standard and High Volume - every employer who needs to get accredited will apply under one of these two. Franchisees and labour hire will have additional requirements that will make the process more stringent for them.
What type of accreditation to apply for?
This is the most important question for businesses looked to become accredited under these rules. The type of accreditation you apply under will dictate how many migrants you can support on a visa and the energy you need to dedicate to meeting the accreditation requirements. Employers holding Standard Accreditation can only support up to 5 visas per year; but those under High Volume do not have a cap. The rules under High Volume, however, are far stricter. So, choosing the right type of accreditation is a balancing act between a company’s current and future workforce needs vs. resources available to undertake this process. The date for new accreditation applications will be confirmed in closer time.
Visa expiry for current migrant workforce
The accreditation process is also influenced your existing employees’ visa expiry dates. Many employees whose visas are expiring in the near future should look to submit further work visa applications before 1st November, under current rules. This offers certainty for the next few years in case their employers are not readily equipped for accreditation. Employers should be aware that labour market testing is a requirement for Essential Skills Work Visa even if the employee already works for your company. You still have to “test the market” before you can retain that employee for ongoing employment, which can only happen if their subsequent work visa is approved. This process should be undertaken well in advance, especially if the employee’s role, on which the work visa would be supported, has changed.
Why are these changes being made?
The government’s goal for these new policies is to combat migrant exploitation by strengthening requirements on employers. It serves another purpose of encouraging employers to focus on ways to train and upskill New Zealanders. As a result, it is anticipated that the new system will have key benefits as it would allow businesses to employ migrants only where there are genuine skill shortages.