Essential Skills Work Visa vs Accreditation- written by Arunima Dhingra

Did you know you that until the new policy comes out, you don’t need to be accredited to hire migrant workers?

The accreditation rules we keep hearing about are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but they don’t kick-in for another 12 months or so. In fact, the exact date they become applicable from has not been announced yet. You can still hire the best candidate you find for the role and bring them here on an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV).

The ESWV is a category of Work Visa that allows New Zealand employers to hire migrant workers whilst also providing a possible pathway to Skilled Migrant Category Residence (SMC) for the applicant. There are two important elements that Immigration NZ must be satisfied are met:

  • First, the employer must check if any New Zealanders were available to do the work: there is strict policy that must be satisfied – advertising platforms, advertising duration, ANZSCO (Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) substantial match etc. – before offering the job to a non-New Zealander.
  • Second, the migrant worker must be suitably qualified to do the role: they must have necessary qualifications and/or experience to work in that job (if an occupational registration is required in New Zealand to be able to work in that role, then that requirement must be met before the visa can be granted).

Once this visa is granted, the worker can work only in the specific occupation, for that employer, and in the location specified on their visa. To change any of these conditions, a Variation of Conditions (VoC) application, or a new ESWV (depending on the case) application will be needed.

A maximum of 5 years work visa can be granted under this category.

  • If the role offered is at a pay rate of $37.50/hour and above, then the applicant may be able to get a visa for a 5-year duration (threshold increasing to $38.25/hour from 24 Feb 2020).
  • If the role offers between $21.25 and $37.49/hour and meets an occupation at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 or 3, then the applicant may be granted a work visa for 3 years (increasing to $21.68/ hour and $38.25/hour from 24 Feb 2020).

The above two schemes provide support to bring family members (partner and dependent children) to New Zealand on their dependent visas. An applicant can also apply for residence under SMC path when they meet 160 points.

If the role is a) paid lower than $37.50/hour (increasing to $38.25/hour from 24 Feb 2020) and is at ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5, or b) if your ANZSCO skill level is 1 to 5 and your pay rate is less than $21.25/hour (increasing to $21.68/hour from 24 Feb) ; then the visa granted will be under ‘lower-skilled’ for 1 year. There is no pathway to residence and no family support under these two scenarios.

Please also note that the government is reviewing 6 categories of Work Visa in New Zealand so the ESWV category is likely to change in the near future. When it does, look out for another post from me.

In the meantime, if you are wanting to hire that migrant worker but thought you couldn’t because you’re not accredited, let’s talk now!


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