Key takeaways from our webinar in November 202208 December 2022
Recent and upcoming changes to keep in mind:
- Median wage increases to NZD $29.66/hr from February 2023
- Chef Level 4 qualification requirement, initially mandatory for Accredited Employer Work Visa, has now been removed. Chefs only require 3 years of experience now
- Tourism and hospitality median wage exceptions:
- Until April 2023: accredited employers are allowed to hire migrants at $25/hour for some specific roles
- April 2023: the median wage exception threshold will increase from $25/hour to $28.18/hour (which is 95% of the new median wage)
- April 2024: the exception will end, and all roles will be required to be paid at least 100% of the median wage applicable at that time
- Partner of AEWV holder's work rights changing from April 2023
- Partners of AEWV who do not work in Green list roles or do not earn high income were scheduled to lose their ability to apply for an open work visa from December 2022. This has been deferred to April 2023 – policy details awaited
- Salary thresholds in Sector Agreements (which came into effect on 31 October 2022) are due to increase in line with the increase in median wage on 27 Feb 2023. These sector agreements are for accredited employers in the care workforce, construction and infrastructure, meat processing, seafood (onshore & sea-based), seasonal snow, and adventure tourism industries. These are a temporary transition measure to enable employers to hire migrant workers for specific roles on an AEWV while paying less than the median wage. Read more about sector agreements here.
- From 5 December 2022, AEWV holders can apply to change their employer, occupation, location, or a combination of these through a Variations of Conditions (VoC) application. However, even for a VoC, employers need to be accredited and need to have completed a job check for the role. A VoC does not change the expiry date of the visa.
- In 2023, all employers hiring migrant workers will need to be accredited. It doesn’t matter whether the migrant worker needs an AEWV or currently has open work rights (such as on a partner or post-study work visas, working holiday visa or students), accreditation will become mandatory for all employers. A specific date for this change is awaited.
- Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) reopens in January 2023 for a few months and closes again mid-year. It requires an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) to be submitted and all EOIs with 180 points and above will be automatically selected. This is an expensive pathway but a good option for those who are ineligible for ‘Straight to Residence’ pathway or do not meet Green List requirements.
Mandatory Employer Accreditation & Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)
Steps to hire migrants:
- Step 1: Accreditation - Employers lead this process
- Step 2: Job Check - Employers lead this process
- Step 3: Migrant Check (AEWV applications) - Employers invite migrants to apply
Gate 1: Employer Accreditation
- During accreditation:
- INZ may request information or undertake a site visit
- Accreditation can be revoked
- Accreditation can be suspended → The employer cannot support any job check applications while accreditation is suspended
- If any details provided in the application change, INZ must be informed within 10 business days
- In the event of a restructure or merger, accreditation cannot be transferred to a new legal entity
- New employer obligations have been introduced:
- Everyone making recruitment decisions must complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights
- All migrant employees must complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights during paid work hours
- All migrant employees must be provided settlement support information
- If your business still hasn't applied for accreditation yet, we've made a list of useful tips to consider.
Gate 2: Job Check
- Job Check can be a complex piece of work. Here's 5 facts to know about it!
- If a job pays at least 200% of the median wage or meets the requirements of the Green List, a Labour market test (LMT) is not required
- All other jobs must pay at least the current median wage of $27.76/hour and a Labour Market Test is required
- The job check is valid up to 6 months from the date of approval
- Multiple roles can be included in the same job check (if pay rate, occupation, job requirements, city/region do not change; and are all covered in the same advertising (where required))
- The job must be advertised to attract suitable NZers for no less than 14 days
- The end date of the ads must be within the 90 days prior to the Job Check application being submitted
- Employers must be cautious around hours of work mentioned in the IEA and if any overtime clauses apply
- Employers must not pass on recruitment, training or equipment costs to employees
Gate 3: Accredited Employer Work Visa
After an employer is accredited and the Job Check is completed, the migrant worker can be invited to apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) to work in that job.
- The migrant worker can only apply with a one-time job token
- INZ checks their identity, health, character, skills, qualifications and other bona-fide requirements at this stage
- Migrants with an AEWV can apply for a new visa to change employers or place of employment
- From 5 December, AEWV holders can apply to change their employer, occupation, location, or a combination of these. Employers hiring AEWV holders need to be accredited and have a valid job check
New residence visa categories have been introduced as part of the government’s rebalancing of the immigration system:
- Green List - Straight to Residence pathway: eligible applicants have been able to apply for residence since 5 September 2022.
- Green List - Work to Residence pathway: eligible applicants must work in an occupation on the Green List and meet the specified requirements for that occupation for the 24-month period. Applications open in September 2023
- Highly Paid pathway: eligible applicants must earn at or above two times the median wage for at least 24 months in the 30-month period before the resident visa application is made. This can be accrued from 29 September 2021. Applications open in September 2023
- Skilled Migrant Category: the current minimum threshold is 180 pts and the new SMC regime will be introduced in mid-2023. Here's what employers should know about this category
The landscape of immigration in New Zealand is evolving with changes being introduced regularly. If you and your team would like to remain up to date with the changing policies and updates, please register to join us for our webinar series in 2023.