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Breaking Immigration NZ News - Essential Skills Work Visa, Accredited Employer Visa

19 July 2021

On Friday, 16th of July, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced a number of policy updates and changes. While some of these might add to the uncertainty that employers are feeling, many of these changes make it easier for businesses to retain talent and bring a sense of relief to your migrant workforce. The Government has indicated that these changes will provide more assurance to employers and visa holders while COVID border restrictions remain in place.   

We have explained the changes as relevant to you, below.

Essential Skills Work Visa

  • If a work visa applicant is being paid below the NZ median wage of $27/hour, the maximum duration of the visa has been increased from 12 months to 24 months. This two year visa is expected to provide certainty to at least 18,000 visa holders. A large number of these workers are employed in the Services sector, specifically in the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.
  • Employers won’t be required to complete a labour market test where a worker is applying for a visa for a full time role that the worker already holds. These applicants won’t need to provide Employment agreements, medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand, if that information has been supplied previously. This will impact approximately 57,000 skilled workers on visas.
  • The duration of Essential Skills work visas for roles paid the median wage ($27/hour) or above will still be up to three years.
  • Employers will need to undertake a Labour Market Check for any roles that have been vacant or where the worker will change the region of work.
  • The fee for the two year Essential Skills Work Visa remains at $440 + an Immigration Levy of $55, a total of $495. INZ is encouraging employers to meet this cost.
  • The format for the Skills Match Report is updated by Ministry of Social Development and is available from 19th July 2021.

Application Process

  • Between 19th July 2021 and 28th August 2021, applications are to be made using a paper-based form available on the INZ website. Online applications will begin from 30th August 2021. 

Accredited Employer Visa & Employer Accreditation

  • The Government expects that most Essential Skills Work Visa holders will apply for the two year visa, meaning the Accredited Employer Work Visa will likely have low uptake. Consequently, INZ has deferred the rollout of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa policy from 1st November 2021 to mid 2022.
  • The new Employer Accreditation system will also be deferred to mid 2022. Dates for applications are yet to be announced.
  • Stakeholders will be kept updated about the progress on the AEWV and Employer Accreditation rollout and timelines.

Some Applications Still Close October 31st, 2021

  • New applications for a Talent Accredited Employer Work to Residence visa and the Long Skills Shortage List work to residence visa are closing to new applications at the end of October 2021.

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