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Employer Accreditation and Work Visas: Recent Updates

07 April 2022

What work visas will be available when the new employer accreditation starts? 

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be the only work visa available after July 4 and will replace the current category – Essential Skills Work Visa, which closes after July 3. 

It’s not just a change of name, AEWV is a whole different process compared to Essential Skills and more expensive as well! 

From July 4, NZ employers will not be able to hire and support a migrant worker on a work visa without first getting accredited and clearing the job check.  

To hire a migrant worker on the Accredited Employer Work Visa you will have to complete these three steps in order: 

Step 1. Get accredited – GATE 1 

Accreditation is a check performed by INZ to ensure the employer will meet certain specified requirements including 

  • Employer must be genuine and compliant with NZ’s immigration and employment law  
  • Employer must have no history of regulatory non-compliance including not employing a migrant that does not have the right to work in that role 
  • Employer pays all recruitment related costs for hiring in and out of NZ 
  • New requirements that employers must provide their employees settlement support services and allow them to complete employment rights modules, have also been added. These must be completed within one month of the AEWV holder starting employment. 

Accreditation for employers placing migrants with controlling third parties must meet several stringent additional requirements. Examples of such employers are:

  • Labour hire companies
  • Companies that send their migrant employees on secondment to a controlling third party
  • Parent companies that place their migrant workers with subsidiary companies

Accreditation category will depend on the number of migrants the employer wants to employ and their business model (there are 4 categories for this – Standard, High Volume, Franchisee and Triangular Employment).

Accreditation is akin to a ‘license to hire’ so to say, and remains valid for a year initially, then renewed every two years (except in the case of Franchisees & Triangular Employment where it is renewed annually) 

INZ fees to be paid by you depending on the category you fall into 

  • $740 for Standard Accreditation 
  • $1220 for High Volume Accreditation  
  • $480 for upgrade from Standard to High Volume Accreditation  
  • $1980 for Franchisees 
  • $3870 for Employers wanting to place migrants with controlling third parties (Triangular Employments) 

Applications open May 23, 2022. INZ’s estimated processing timeframe of employer accreditation applications is 10 working days. 

Even after an employer has received their accreditation from Immigration New Zealand, they are still not able to support a migrant worker. There are two more steps. 

2. Pass the job check – GATE 2 

This is where requirements like the genuineness of the job, market rate, labour market test come into play. Labour market test is the process where you advertise for the role to prove that no suitable New Zealanders are available, before offering the role to a migrant worker. The only exception announced so far by INZ to this advertising requirement is where a migrant is paid at or above 200% the median wage.  

You can learn more about the Labour Market Test process here. 

This gate also has a fee that must be paid by the employer. As an employer you must pay $610 to INZ for the job check, any recruitment costs are over and above this. Only when this has been approved, can the migrant worker be invited to apply for the actual visa that will give them the legal right to work for you once approved. An approved job check is valid for six months or until you no longer hold accreditation, whichever is earlier. 

Applications for Job Checks open on June 20, 2022. This process allows employers to be smart and efficient about their recruitment plans as multiple positions for the same job can be included in the one job check rather than advertising separately (for example if you wish to hire 6 technicians who all will have the same role, same pay range, same region of work and will meet the same job requirements, they can all be covered in one job check).  

INZ’s estimated processing timeframe for job check applications is 10 working days. 

It is important to note that the median wage will increase from NZD $27.00 an hour to NZD $27.76 an hour on 4 July 2022, when the Accredited Employer Work Visa opens for applications. However, the increased median wage rate will apply to job checks submitted from 20 June 2022 onwards.  

You can read more about Frequently Asked Questions: Job Check here 

3. Apply for the visa - Migrant check – GATE 3

Only after the first two steps are passed and approved; you can invite the migrant worker to apply for a visa to work in that specific job. And only once the worker’s visa is approved are you able to hire them. 

This gate is where a migrant worker meets character, health, skills and experience requirements. Any visa breaches or previous immigration issues they may have had in the past may be questioned by INZ at this stage. 

At the end of this process, the worker gets an AEWV for three years. 

INZ fee for the AEWV is $595 (including the immigration levy). INZ’s estimated processing timeframe of Accredited employer work visa applications is 20 working days. 

As would be clear above, and it’s okay if you did not read everything but from a glance, one would be able to tell that the majority burden of the work visa process will fall on the employer under this new framework, rather than the employee, as has traditionally been the case. Therefore, this new model is called ‘employer-led’, rather than ‘migrant-led’ model.  

To ensure you understand how these changes will affect your business and its migrant recruitment, download our eBook: How to Hire and Retain Migrant Staff  


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