The Government is introducing a new temporary work visa called the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). The Accredited Employer Work Visa will be introduced on 1 November 2021 and will replace 6 of the existing temporary work visa categories.
Alongside the Accredited Employer Work Visa, a new employer-led system will be introduced that will generally simplify the application process and make it easier for businesses and regions to fill genuine skills shortages when it is clear that there is no New Zealander available to do the job, or who can be trained up for the role.
Employers will need to be accredited before they can hire a migrant on an Accredited Employer Work Visa.
Employer leads visa application process
The new 3-check visa application process is led by the employer before the migrant applies.
New application process
The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) application process will be employer led. Before hiring a migrant on the AEWV employers will need to:
- apply for accreditation under the new system
- apply for a job check to make sure the role they want to fill cannot be done by New Zealanders, and
- request a migrant worker to apply for a visa.
The migrant will need to meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the job check. This is similar to Australia’s TSS 482 visa process.
Single visa replaces 6
The AEWV replaces these 6 work visas:
- Essential Skills Work Visa
- Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
- Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
- Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
- Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
- Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.
New system has 3 checks
The system will introduce 3 checks before an employer can hire a migrant worker. These checks are:
- the employer check — employers need accreditation to pass this
- the job check
- the migrant worker check.
The employer check will replace 3 current employer schemes:
- approval in principle (AIP) before an employer hires workers on an Essential Skills Work Visa
- Accreditation as a Talent Accredited Employer, and
- Labour Hire employers’ accreditation for essential skills work visas.
To pass the employer check you need accreditation in the new system. Only accredited employers can hire a migrant worker on the AEWV.
The new accreditation levels are:
- standard accreditation — for employers who want to have up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time (similar to Australia’s Standard Business Sponsor)
- high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to have 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time (similar to Australia’s Accredited Sponsorship)
Franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with third parties (including labour hire companies) will need to meet additional criteria to get accredited.
The job check will confirm the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with our employment laws, and you have done a labour market test if you need to.
A labour market test shows you have genuinely advertised the role to New Zealanders and there are no New Zealanders available to do the job. For jobs paying below the median wage, the labour market test includes checking with the Ministry of Social Development.
Jobs paying 200 % of the median wage do not need a labour market test. Jobs paying at, or above, the median wage in regions also do not need a labour market test. In cities, jobs that are on a skills shortage list and pay at, or above, the median wage don’t need a labour market test.
You can only hire a migrant worker if the job check is passed. Employers pay for a job check (this is similar to Australia’s Labour Market Testing requirements).
More information on the specific advertising requirements, jobseeker engagement and confirmation of the different region and city settings will be available in June or July 2021.
Current labour market test requirements continue to apply for essential skills visa applications.
Some industries hire large numbers of migrant workers — sector agreements may be negotiated with them. Agreements will include a workforce plan and conditions on recruiting a temporary migrant worker for specific occupations in the sector (this is similar to Australia’s Labour Agreement stream).
Introduction of sector agreements has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AEWV migrant worker check
The migrant worker check is where the migrant worker applies for a visa. It is the last step in the AEWV process. The migrant worker must show they meet INZ’s character, identity and health requirements, and meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application.
Migrant workers or employers pay for this check.
Further information on fees will be announced when they are finalised later in 2021.
When to apply for accreditation
Employers will be able to apply for accreditation from late September, ahead of the 1 November 2021 introduction date.
Employers accredited under the current system will need to apply and meet the policy requirements of the new accreditation system.
Employers only need to be accredited under the new system when they want to start hiring migrants on AEWVs.
Employers don’t need to be accredited in the new system by 1 November 2021 if they do not plan to start hiring migrants on AEWVs at this time.
Employers who want to start hiring migrants on AEWVs soon after 1 November 2021 should consider applying during the pre-accreditation period.
Businesses employing migrants who hold a current talent or essential skill visa don’t need to become accredited until they want to hire someone on the new visa.
Transitioning to the new accreditation system
The following employer policies are closing to new and renewing applications on 30 June 2021:
- Accredited Employer (Talent – Accredited Employer)
- Labour Hire Accreditation (Essential Skills)
- Approval in Principle (Essential Skills) – this does not include approval in principle for other policies including AIP for foreign crew of fishing vessels.
If employers want to be able to use these statuses up to 1 November 2021, they should apply by 30 June 2021 and consider the processing timeframes.
Employers who don’t apply for these statuses by 30 June 2021 July will still be able to support work visa applications under the Essential Skills work visa category up until 31 October 2021.
Employers who only want to hire migrants using the new AEWV should wait and apply under the new accreditation system.
Employers accredited under the current system must apply and meet the policy requirements of the new accreditation system.
In between the existing Labour Hire Accreditation closing and the new accreditation policy being implemented, Labour Hire Accreditation will not be mandatory for labour hire employers supporting Essential Skills Work Visas for jobs in the construction industry in the Canterbury region.
What migrants workers need to know
In November 2021 6 temporary work visas will be replaced by the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).
The new visa process is led by the employer offering the job. Your potential employer must complete the employer accreditation and job check before you apply for a work visa.
If you have a current temporary work visa you will not be affected as long as you are meeting your visa conditions and your visa remains valid.
If you have a Residence from Work visa application underway (requiring a further Work to Residence visa to be granted residence), you will be able to continue this process if you remain with your employer.
The changes to accredited employer work visas will not affect other work visas holders.
Temporary work visas not affected
The following temporary work visas will not be changed by the new visa system:
- Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited Visa
- Working holiday schemes
- Post-study Work Visa
- Fishing Crew Work Visa
- Religious Worker Work Visa
- Specific Purpose Work Visa
- partnership work visas including Partner of a Worker Work Visa, Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa and Partner of a Student Work Visa
- work visas granted for international or humanitarian reasons, such as domestic staff of diplomats, consular and official staff, and for refugee or protection status claimants.
People who hold visas based on work paid below the median wage will still have to leave New Zealand for a 1-year stand down period after they have been working for 3 years.
The stand down period policy is currently suspended until 1 January 2022.
The new visa will still have conditions specifying an employer, job and location. To change any of these the visa holder will still have to get a variation of conditions or apply for a new visa.
Current work visas remain valid until their expiry date if all employment conditions are met.
Progress so far
The Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa salary threshold is now 150% of the median wage (NZD $79,560).
The threshold for determining the conditions of an Essential Skills Work Visa is now the median wage.
Mohamed Anas Sirajur Raheem
Barrister, Solicitor and Licensed Immigration Adviser, LLB (VUW)
Mohamed is a New Zealand Immigration Consultant with VisaEnvoy and an enrolled Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. He is also admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Queensland.
He is a former New Zealand Immigration Officer (Visa Services) and Border Officer at Auckland International Airport. He has several years of experience working in various Government Departments in New Zealand and has also worked as a Licensed Immigration Adviser at a prominent New Zealand Immigration firm.
His areas of expertise and interest are in the fields of General Skilled Migration, Temporary Work (Long and Short Stay), Business visas, Partner, Parent and Child Visa streams.
Mohamed was inspired to pursue a career in immigration by his own migration experiences. Over the years he has assisted individuals, families, large corporations, Professional sportspeople, and Entertainers (singers, speakers, and actors) to come to New Zealand. Book appointment
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