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Employer Accreditation and Work Visas: Recent Updates

10 July 2023

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

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is now the only work visa available and has replaced Essential Skills Work Visa, which closed after July 3, 2022. 

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 2022, NZ employers are not 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: 

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).

Note: In December 2022, the Government announced an automatic extension of employer accreditation by 12 months if the employer’s first accreditation is applied for by 4 July 2023. This means that instead of renewing accreditation after 12 months for the initial first accreditation, employers will effectively receive a 24-month first accreditation.

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 opened on 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 to this advertising requirement is where a migrant is paid at or above 200% the median wage and the roles are on the Green List. However, the job check application must still be made, even if its without advertising. 

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. An approved job check is valid for six months or until you no longer hold accreditation, whichever is earlier. 

Applications for Job Check opened on June 20, 2022. 

Employers can actually be very efficient and tactical with their Job Check applications. 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). With a little bit of good planning, employers can streamline their costs and admin work involved with Gate 2.

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

It is important to note that the median wage is currently $29.66 an hour.

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 up to three years. Starting from November 2023, the government plans to roll out a new regulation related to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). This change will introduce a maximum continuous stay of five years for individuals who are not clearly on a pathway to residence. Those who fail to meet the education, qualification, occupation, or wage thresholds required for skilled residence pathways will be required to depart New Zealand for a period of 12 months before being eligible to apply for another AEWV. 

It's important to note that time spent on other temporary visas, such as a Post Study Work Visa or Working Holiday Visa, will not be counted towards the five-year maximum continuous stay for AEWV holders.  

To align with this upcoming change, those already on AEWVs will be able to apply for a further visa to get up to five years in total (including time already spent on an AEWV). Further details on this regulation is expected in the coming months. 

INZ fee for the AEWV is $750 (including the immigration levy). INZ’s estimated processing timeframe of Accredited employer work visa applications is 20 working days. 

Finished Reading?

It's okay if you did not read every word above 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, have a chat with us by filling this form!


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