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Significant Changes to the AEWV Scheme — What You Need to Know

08 April 2024

The government announced massive changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme on 7 April 2024. These will have a major impact on numerous employers in New Zealand and visa applicants (including those already in the country).

These policy updates have far-reaching implications for businesses, and we will be addressing them in detail in our webinar series for employers, HR managers, and recruiters.

We have outlined below all the key changes that employers, as well as migrant employees, should be aware of, including amendments made to the Green List and Sector Agreement roles.

Changes affecting Employers

Ensuring your worker meets the skill requirements

Before you ask someone to apply for an AEWV, you must check that they:

  • Meet the AEWV skill requirements set by Immigration NZ (INZ), such as the minimum 3-year relevant work experience, and
  • Have the skills and experience specified in the Job Check

This requirement applies to all Job Checks going forward.

INZ expects the employer to maintain accurate records and will hold them responsible for this, regardless of whether they do this directly or through a third party such as a recruiter. Failure to comply can lead to the suspension of the employer’s accreditation.

Grounds for suspending accreditation expanded

Previously, suspension was only an option for breaches of specific accreditation requirements. However, this has now been expanded to include any possible breach.

ANZSCO assessment becomes the norm

While there was always a field in the Job Check form, INZ did not previously assess against an ANZSCO code. Since the new policies are significantly indexed to ANZSCO skill levels, this assessment is expected to deepen, and ANZSCO will now be an integral part of AEWV applications.

Extra Job Check rules for ANZSCO Level 4 and 5 jobs

Employers who want to fill jobs at ANZSCO level 4 and 5 now need to:

  • Advertise for 21 days, rather than 14, and
  • Engage with Work and Income, and
  • Declare in the Job Check why any New Zealanders who applied were not hired

Suitable and available New Zealanders

There is now a definition of 'suitable and available New Zealanders'. Employers will be required to declare that nobody who applied for the job met this definition. If an employer indicates that there were suitable New Zealanders available, the Job Check will be declined.

New process for informing INZ when a migrant leaves their job

If a worker on an AEWV leaves employment a month or more before their visa expires, you must inform INZ within 10 working days. Failure to do this can impact accreditation. This change will apply to any employer that is accredited or re-accredited from now on.

Franchisee Accreditation ceases to exist from late 2024

The Franchisee Accreditation type will end in late 2024. Such employers will be able to apply for standard, high volume, or triangular accreditation, depending on their business model.

Changes affecting Employees

Reduced duration of AEWV for ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5 roles

Workers already on an AEWV in New Zealand before 7 April 2024

If employers have a worker that:

  • Applied for AEWV before 21 June 2023
  • Is on ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 in New Zealand
  • Is in a job paying at or above the median wage
  • Currently holds a work visa for 3 years

These workers will not be able to apply for the 'balance' duration and access the maximum stay of five years in New Zealand unless they have a pathway to residence.

Workers applying for a new AEWV from 7 April 2024

Anyone applying for a new AEWV from 7 April 2024 for an ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 role in New Zealand and paid at or above the median wage will only receive a maximum visa length of 2 years. Another year can be applied for with a new Job Check. For these workers, when they reach the end of their maximum stay in New Zealand and don’t meet residence requirements, they will need to leave the country for 12 months to be able to apply for another AEWV.

Workers not affected by the above changes

  • Those on the Green List
  • In Transport and Care Sector Agreements and on a pathway to residence
  • Paid 1.5x median wage

Minimum English requirement for AEWV

Workers applying for ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 roles must now meet English language requirements to get an AEWV. This can be met through their citizenship, where they were working and studying, or through English testing.

Several English tests are acceptable, including IELTS (General or Academic) with a minimum score of 4, or Pearson (PTE Academic) with a minimum score of 29 overall.

Minimum work experience or qualification requirement

Anyone applying for an AEWV from 7 April 2024 will need to meet minimum requirements set by the government, which may be over and above what you will need for the worker (and what you stipulate in the Job Check). You will also be required to check that your worker meets these requirements. 

Unless the role meets the Green List requirements or is paid at least 2x median wage, all workers must now have:

  • Minimum 3 years work experience or
  • A minimum Level 4 relevant qualification

All qualifications below a bachelor’s degree must be relevant and be accompanied by an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Work to Residence changes for Bus and Truck Drivers

Any bus and truck drivers who apply for their AEWV from 7 April onwards won’t be able to apply for a Transport Sector Work to Residence visa. Those already on an AEWV or who have applied for an AEWV will still be eligible.

Changes to Green List

6 new roles were added to the Green list on 8 April 2024. These are:

Straight to Residence

  • Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  • Naval Architect (aka Marine Designer)
  • ICT Database and Systems Administrator
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer

Work to Residence

  • Corrections Officer

11 previously announced roles, including Welder Fabricator, Metal Machinist (first class), and Panel Beater will no longer be added to the Green List.

Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement halted

Unlike previously announced, 7 roles under the Construction & Infrastructure Sector Agreement will no longer progress. These include:

  • Driller’s Assistant
  • Earthmoving Labourer
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)
  • Linemarker
  • Machine Operators (not elsewhere classified)
  • Mechanic’s Assistant
  • Road Traffic Controller

These changes are hot-off-the-press and will be the focal point of our webinars for businesses that hire overseas talent. The timing couldn't be any better. It is vital to understand how these changes affect your organisation. If you haven't already, sign up below today.

Does your business find it difficult to understand how constant immigration changes affect its hiring process? Talk to us.

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