New Employer Accreditation and Accredited Employer Work Visa

Looking Out of a Skyscaper

The introduction of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa is postponed until mid-2022. Employers will be able to apply for accreditation before the AEWV is introduced. 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 can support work visa applications under the Essential Skills work visa category until the AEWV is introduced.

 

Key Dates:

  • Applications open for AEWV employer accreditation on 09 May 2022.

  • Applications open for AEWV job checks on 09 May 2022.

  • Applications close for Essential Skills Work Visa on 03 July 2022

  • Applications open for Accredited Employer Work Visa on 04 July 2022

AEWV application process

The Accredited Employer Work Visa application process will be employer-led. Before hiring a migrant on the AEWV, employers will need to gain employer accreditation. 

3 checks introduced

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.

Standard and high-volume accreditation 

The accreditation levels are:

  • standard accreditation — for employers who want to have up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time

  • high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to have 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time.

Franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with controlling third parties (including labour hire companies) will need to meet additional criteria to get accredited.

The AEWV will replace these 6 work visas: FAQs

  • Essential Skills Work Visa

  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa (closes 31 October 2021)

  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa (closes 31 October 2021)

  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)

  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Govt bringing in the accreditation of employers and the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)?

There are four-fold reasons to bring in the accreditation of employers and the Accredited Employer Work Visa:

  • To encourage businesses and regions to train, upskill and hire New Zealand workers;

  • To make it easier for businesses and regions to fill genuine skills shortages;

  • To combat migrant exploitation and misuse of the immigration system; and

  • To reduce New Zealand’s reliance on lower-paid temporary workers, better address our productivity, skills and infrastructure challenges, and increase the overall skill level of migrants coming to work in New Zealand.

 

What are the key points of the AEWV?

The key points are:

  • It replaces the 6 temporary work visas with one AEWV.

  • The current migrant-led work visa system would change to an employer-led work visa system entailing 3-checks.

  • All employers would be required to be accredited to hire on AEWVs. However, employers need not be accredited until they want to start hiring migrants on the new visa.

  • The old employer accreditation and AIP requirements would give way to the new employer accreditation.  

 

What are 3 checks in this 3-check system?

  1. Employer check

  2. Job check

  3. Migrant check

 

Do the pathways to residence remain?

Yes, people who currently hold a Work to Residence (WTR) visa are not disadvantaged by the closure of the new applications on 31 Oct 2021 and as such these work visa holders can continue to apply on their pathway to residency and a subsequent WTR visa if required.

What are the options for people who were issued a WTR visa but who could not return to New Zealand?

 

WTR visa holders who were stuck offshore, and returned to NZ after 31 Oct 2021 will have the opportunity to apply for a subsequent WTR visa, and work through their residency, provided they had started work in New Zealand in the role their visa was issued for, before leaving New Zealand.

 

What are the key dates for accreditation and AEWV in 2022?

The AEWV will be introduced on 4 July 2022. Employers will be able to apply for accreditation from 9 May 2022.

What about businesses that already employ someone on a temporary work visa?

Businesses employing migrants who hold a current temporary work visa do not need to become accredited until they want to hire someone on the new visa.

What about businesses who employ migrants on other visas such as Working Holiday visas, Partner-based work visas etc?

Employers who only hire migrants with open work rights don’t need to be accredited.

What is ‘Standard’ accreditation?

Employers who hire up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs would require Standard accreditation.

What is ‘High-volume’ accreditation?

Employers who hire 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs would require High-volume accreditation.

What are the requirements for Standard accreditation?

The requirements for employers opting for Standard accreditation include:

  • They must be genuinely operating their business in NZ and provide their IRD and NZBN details;

  • They must not have a history of non-compliance with immigration standards or be on the ‘stand-down’ list for non-compliance of employment standards; and

  • They must take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation

What are the requirements for High-volume accreditation?

In addition to the above requirements, additional requirements for employers opting for High-volume accreditation include:

  • Jobs with these employers must either meet a minimum pay requirement of 10 per cent above the minimum wage (NZ$22 per hour) or be covered by a collective agreement

What about franchisees?

Franchisee employers must be operating for at least 12 months and must have a history of hiring New Zealand workers, in addition to meeting the Standard accreditation requirements or High-volume accreditation requirements (if applicable).

What are Triangular employers or Third-party employers?  

Triangular employers or Third-party employers are –

  • Labour hire companies

  • Employers who send migrant employees on secondment to a controlling third party

  • Parent or umbrella companies who place their migrant employees with a controlling third party such as a subsidiary company or branch that is a separate legal entity

In these cases, the AEWV holder performs work for the benefit of the controlling third party and this third party exercises control over the AEWV holder, similar to an employer. Hence, it is important that in these cases the migrant’s direct employer must be accredited.

What is the definition of controlling third parties?

Definition for controlling third parties is given in the Employment Relations Act (ERA) - The third party is a 'controlling third party' if they direct or control the employee in a similar or substantially similar way to that of an employer.

 

What if an employer places an AEWV holder in a different part of their business?

An employer placing an AEWV holder in different parts of their business (ie a single legal entity) is not considered placing migrants with a controlling third party.

 

What are the additional requirements for businesses that place migrants with controlling third parties?

Such businesses must –

  • Only place AEWV holders with compliant businesses

  • Have good systems in place to monitor employment and safety on site

  • Have a history of contracting labour for the past 12 months

  • Ensure that at least 15% of their workforce being placed with third parties are New Zealanders

What will be the validity of accreditation and when would one need to apply for renewal?

Initial accreditation application for all employers would be approved for 12 months. For franchisees and for employers that place migrants with third parties, further renewals would be for 12 months. For all other employers, further renewals would be granted for 24 months.

What if an employer is still accredited under the Talent scheme?

Such employers will be required to meet the requirements for the new accreditation system when they want to begin hiring migrant workers on the new AEWV.

What do you mean by job check?

The second step in the 3-process check is job check. In this, Immigration New Zealand would check:

  • if the employer holds accreditation, 

  • if New Zealanders are available for the role,

  • the market rate for the role, and

  • if the employment is acceptable.

Multiple roles can be included on the same job check if they are for the same occupation, pay rate, location, and minimum job requirements. They must all be subject to the same labour market test conditions and governed by the same advertising and proposed agreement.

What is the validity of job checks?

A job check is valid up to 6 months from the date of approval or if the accreditation of the concerned employer has expired, whichever is earlier.

When would an employer have to conduct a labour market test?

An employer would need to conduct a labour market test under the following scenarios:

  • If a job pays below the median wage, a labour market test vide job advertising and Skills Match report from MSD is required

  • If a job pays at or above the median wage, no labour market test is required for a regional job only

  • If a job pays above 200% of the median wage, no labour market test is required

  • If a job pays at or above the median wage, but below 200% of the median wage, a labour market test is required, must be on the skills shortage list or pass the job advertising requirement.

Are labour market tests different for cities and/or regions?

 

Yes, they are. Also, labour market tests are dependent on the role, remuneration for the role, skills shortages, location etc.

Name of the current cities.

Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua, Hamilton and Dunedin.

 

Name of the current regions.

Northland, Manawatu-Whanganui, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Waikato, Wellington region, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

 

Note: all regions exclude cities.

What is Migrant check?

The final check in the 3-step process is the Migrant check where the employer invites the migrant to apply for an AEWV. In this, Immigration New Zealand would check that the employment details match the job check, the applicant is suitably qualified and meets the health, character and bona fide requirements.

What are the fees for each type of accreditation and each of the 3 checks?

The Fees would be confirmed by Immigration New Zealand in 2022.

How long will processing take for each type of accreditation and the 3 checks?

Immigration New Zealand believes that most accreditation applications are likely to be light-touch and hence not likely to take a lot of time. However, average processing times would be advised when real applications have been submitted and processed. Since most of the processing work has been shifted to employer check and job check stages, the migrant checks would not take a lot of time for processing in most cases.   

When will the instructions be made available publicly?

Instructions will be available in early 2022.

Is there a pathway to residence from this visa?

A pathway to residence will be introduced in future for migrants who have held an AEW for 2 years and earn 200% of the median wage. The details and timing of this will be considered as part of the SMC review and further announcements would be made after July 2022.

 

How will AEWV prevent migrant exploitation?

The AEWV will prevent migrant exploitation and misuse of the immigration system by ensuring that employers who have breached immigration requirements or serious employment standards do not have access to migrant workers.

 

When will the necessary forms go live?

The accreditation and job check forms for employers would be available from 9 May 2022. The AEWV form will be available from 4 Jul 2022.