Important changes to
New Zealand work visas

The government of New Zealand is planning to implement important reforms to its immigration system that will replace six of the previous work visas into a single, streamlined visa process. The new system is designed with an aim to increase the skill levels of migrants and to lower the country’s economic dependency on lower-paid temporary workers.

The changes will come under the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy with a set date of 1 November 2021. This will mean that employers that want to hire workers from November and beyond will need to adhere to the new rules and standards.

What will be required for employers?

  • Employers must become accredited before 1 November 2021
  • Show they are a genuinely operating business, with registration to Inland Revenue and have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
  • Have a history of regulatory compliance with immigration and employment laws
  • Prove that they will take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation
  • Meet additional criteria based on whether they will hire more than five migrant workers at any one time

Applications will open from late September 2021. Once approved, employers will have accreditation for 12 months and at renewal, unless franchisees or placing migrants to a third party, employers will receive a further 24 month accreditation.

The AEWV has replaced the following six 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.

Subsequent to the initial check for the accreditation that the employer has obtained, the visa system will have two additional checks before an employer can hire the worker. These will be the job check and the migrant worker check.

  • Job Checks: This will confirm that the job pays the market rate and the terms and conditions are in line with employment laws and any outstanding labour market tests have been taken. The test is waived under certain conditions. Checks will also ascertain there are no suitable New Zealanders.
  • Migrant Check: This will take place when the initial two checks are completed. The migrant will submit an application and meet the generic Immigration requirements such as Health, Character and Bona’fides. They must also prove they have relevant skills and experience required.

More information on the employer accreditation process can be found here:

General Notes

  • Under the new system, only those earning twice the median wage will be able to obtain residence in New Zealand.
  • Employers only need to be accredited when they plan to hire migrants on AEWV, however those that are accredited under the current system will need to reapply and meet new policy requirements.
  • Businesses employing migrants who hold a current talent or essential skills visa only need to become accredited when they want to hire someone on the new visa.
  • Sector agreements with some industries that require large numbers of migrant workers may be negotiated with certain delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Need more information?

To learn more about the new Accredited Employer Work Visa in New Zealand, please contact a member of the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters – we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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