Changes to work visas for employees and employers: Introduction to the accredited employer work visa

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Changes to work visas for employees and employers: Introduction to the accredited employer work visa

– 10 May 2021

On 7 May 2021 Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) announced the changes to employer assisted work visas and accredited employer policies. The main changes coming into effect are that six employer assisted work visas will become one type of work visa and that any employer assisting with a work visa application must now be accredited.  These changes do not affect open work visas such as the partnership-based work visa or the post-study: open work visa.

 

Work Visas:

The six work visas with will be removed and replaced with the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (“AEWV”) are the 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 and silver fern practical experience work visa.  The silver fern job search visa was closed on 7 October 2019. Under the new policy, the application process has also been changed into a three-step employer led process.

1.    Employer Check

2.   Job Check

3.   Migrant Check

 

Employer Check

The first step is for an employer to apply for accreditation under the new system. Once an employer holds accreditation under the new system, they do not have to reapply every time they want to support a new migrant worker. The Employer Check will with be the application for accreditation or a check to make sure that the employer still holds valid accreditation under the new system.  Current accredited employers need to apply for accreditation under the new policy if they wish to support a new visa application.

 

Job Check

Employers applies for a job check to make sure the role to be filled cannot be done by a New Zealander.  Most employers that have supported a migrant worker for an essential skills work visa will be familiar with this process which will be a variation of the current labour market test.

 

Migrant Check

This last step is the application for the actual visa for the migrant worker.  They must still meet the character, identity and health requirements and the main change from the current policy is that they must be invited by the employer to apply for the visa.  They must also demonstrate that they have the skills and experience matching those set out in the Job Check.

 

Accreditation Categories:

There will be two main streams of accreditation. Standard Accreditation for employers that employ up to 5 migrant workers on an AEWV and High-Volume Accreditation for employers with 6 or more migrant workers on an AEWV.  Open work visas do not count towards the total of migrant workers, only those that hold or are apply to hold for an AEWV determine if an employer will need to hold Standard or High-Volume Accreditation status.  In addition to these two main streams, there is another branch from High-Volume Accreditation for Franchisee and employers wanting to place AEWV migrant workers with third parties (including labour hire companies).  These types of employers will need to meet the requirements for both Standard and High-Volume Accreditation as well as additional compliance requirements.  Employers on a stand-down list or with a recent history of non-compliance with immigration or employment laws will have to satisfy INZ that  the non-compliance has been rectified and taken appropriate steps to prevent further non-compliance. Certain breaches or convictions will result in a permanent ban.

 

Standard Accreditation:

All employers seeking accreditation must meet the standard accreditation requirements.  These are the “minimum” requirements that an employer must meet in order to satisfy INZ that they are a genuine and complaint employer.  The requirements are divided into ensuring that the employers are a genuinely operating  business (registered with IRD, have a NZBN and be financially stable), must not have a recent history of regulatory non-compliance and must demonstrate that it takes steps to minimize the risk of exploitation.

 

High-Volume Accreditation:

For employers hiring 6 or more migrants on AEWV at any one time, they will need to meet the requirements for standard accreditation in addition to demonstrating a commitment to improving pay and conditions for all employees over time.  These High-Volume employers need to make sure that all jobs submitted at the Job Check either meet a minimum pay requirement of 10 percent above the minimum wage or are covered by a collective agreement.  If they cannot meet this minimum pay requirement then the Job Check will be declined.

Another requirement for High-Volume Accreditation, which is still being considered for addition at a later date, is the demonstration of commitment to training and upskilling New Zealanders.  Most current accredited employers will be familiar with this requirement to a certain extent as the current policy requires employers to demonstrate their commitment to training.  The new policy may place more emphasis on “upskilling” New Zealand employers.

 

Timeframes:

–   Applications for accreditation under the current instructions close 30 June 2021.

–   Applications for standard and high-volume accreditation can be submitted from late-September/ October 2021.

–   Applications for employer assisted work visas under the current instructions close 31 October 2021.

–   AEWV becomes mandatory from 1 November 2021.

 

Announcements and for further information on the upcoming changes can be found on INZ’s website here or you can contact the Immigration team at Queen City Law to discuss.

 

We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should always be sought before any decision or action is taken as Immigration New Zealand’s instructions change on a regular basis.