Employer Accredited Work Visa – Do we need to get accredited? – JD Supra

If you want to hire migrant workers, yes! Most employers wishing to employ migrant workers must now be accredited to use Immigration New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) which has now replaced the main employer-assisted temporary work visas, including the Essential Skills Work Visa, Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa and Long Term Skill Shortage Work Visa.
While the requirement to be accredited is currently limited to those employing migrants on the AEWV, a new requirement will come into effect in 2023 which requires any employer employing a migrant worker (including those with open work rights such as working holidaymakers or students) to be accredited.
Employers must now take a lead role in the immigration process. This will require a significant adjustment for many employers and will involve a higher level of engagement with Immigration New Zealand. In this article we set out the key aspects of the new AEWV framework.
There are three steps in the new AEWV framework:
Before applying, employers will need to consider which type of accreditation is most suitable. There are four different levels of accreditation:
To gain accreditation, employers must be ‘a viable and genuine business or organisation’ and must be compliant with New Zealand immigration law, employment law and business standards.
Most employers will simply need to provide a business IRD number and a New Zealand Business Number to show they are a genuine and viable business. However, any companies that have been trading for less than 12 months will need to provide evidence of their financial position. There are additional requirements for franchisee employers.
Employers are required to declare the employing entity and the individuals running the company are compliant with all New Zealand employment laws and standards as well as the Immigration Act. To meet this requirement, employers and ‘key persons’ in the organisation must not be on the Labour Inspectorate’s non-compliant employers list, be subject to a stand-down period, or have previously breached immigration laws. In addition, those responsible for making recruitment decisions within the organisation will also be required to complete Employment New Zealand’s online employer modules within each accreditation period.
Employers now have increased responsibilities in relation to assisting migrant workers with adjusting to living and working in New Zealand. This includes providing migrant workers with information about the local community, services (including transport services and access to healthcare), and employee work-related matters.
During the application process, employers are simply required to declare that they have or will meet these requirements, rather than provide detailed evidence in support. However, accreditation is initially granted for a 12 month period. Immigration New Zealand will check these requirements have been met when employers seek to renew their accreditation (for a further 24 month period), and may carry out inspections during the accreditation period. It is therefore important that employers have a thorough understanding of Immigration New Zealand’s expectations and what they have declared they will do, and keep thorough records to show they have met these requirements.
Step 2 involves Immigration New Zealand checking the role the employer wishes to hire a migrant worker into. The fee for this stage of the process is NZ$610 and must be paid by the employer.
All roles must be fulltime (at least 30 hours per week) and the proposed employment agreement for the role must have terms and conditions which comply with New Zealand employment laws. Employers should pay particular attention to the clauses relating to hours of work, availability and overtime to ensure Immigration New Zealand are satisfied it meets the pay threshold.
The employer must pay the market rate for that role and at least the median wage (currently NZ$27.76), unless it is on the list of exempt roles. The list records specific roles in construction and infrastructure, and tourism and hospitality, which must pay at least NZ$25 per hour, as well as specific roles in the care workforce that must be paid at least NZ$25.39 per hour.
For some roles, employers must also show that they have made genuine attempts to attract and recruit suitable New Zealand workers by advertising the role. The advertisement must include all the details of the position (such as the minimum and maximum rate of pay, hours and location) and be on a national job listing website for at least 2 weeks.
However, if the role pays more than twice the median wage or is on the ‘Green list’, Immigration New Zealand does not require the role to be advertised. The ‘Green List’ is a new addition to the immigration instructions. It contains two tiers of highly skilled and hard-to-fill roles but includes only half of the roles that were on the Long Term Skills Shortage List.
Once the job check is approved by INZ the employer can invite a migrant worker to apply for an AEWV. The fee for this stage is NZ$595 and may be paid by the migrant. The migrant must be suitably qualified and experienced to do the job and meet the generic health and character requirements.
Immigration New Zealand is estimating it will take 10 days to process applications for accreditation and the job check, and 20 days for the migrant check to be processed. We expect these timeframes will blow out with the volume of applications likely to be significant in the coming months.
There will be a pathway to residence for some migrant workers on the AEWV. The Government has confirmed migrant workers in jobs listed in Tier One of the Green List that are paid above median wage will have a residence pathway immediately. While this may incentivise migrant workers to come to New Zealand, there will be no incentive for them to remain with the employer who supported their visa and once they have gained residence, they will be free to seek work elsewhere.
Migrant workers who are working in roles listed in Tier two of the Green List (and are paid above the median wage) will have a pathway to residence after two years. Migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage will also be able to apply for residence after two years.
The Government have said the purpose of the Green List is to make it easier to attract globally in-demand workers. However, we question the need to divide the List into two tiers with different pathways to residence, particularly given the roles in Tier Two are largely roles in female dominated industries (e.g. teachers, nurses, midwives), while those in Tier one are roles in male dominated industries (e.g. surgeons and engineers).
At the moment, yes. However, from December 2022, the Government has signalled that partners of AEWV holders whose occupations are not on the Green List or who are not earning at least twice the median wage in other roles will not be entitled to an open partnership-based work visa. Those partners will need to qualify for an AEVW or an alternative temporary work visa in their own right if they wish to work.
This means those migrant workers who are paid more will be able to benefit from a double income, while those who are paid less may need to support their family on a single income. While this is intended to incentivise more highly skilled workers to come to New Zealand, it is likely to discourage many others who work in areas where there are critical shortages, such as aged care workers.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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