New Zealand: Changes to the
Accredited Employer Work
26 October 2023
The government of New Zealand has recently announced changes to its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).
This visa category allows migrants to work in New Zealand for an approved employer who has offered them at least 30 hours’ work a week. Employers can get accreditation to use the AEWV to hire migrants on visas for up to 3 years. Employers must pay at least the NZ median wage, unless the role is on an exemption list, and show that they cannot find suitable New Zealanders first.
We explore the upcoming changes to the AEWV scheme below.
Changes to 90-day trial periods on the AEWV
From 29 October 2023, accredited employers are not able to use 90-day trial periods in employment agreements when hiring people on an AEWV. This is to encourage accredited employers to treat migrants fairly, and only recruit someone when they have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill.
- Employment agreements provided with job check applications must not include a trial period.
- Employers who use a trial period in employment agreements will risk having their accreditation revoked.
- Breaches could be detected up front as part of the Job Check process, or through post-decision and re-accreditation checks.
After that date, an employer’s AEWV Job Check application under assessment will be declined if it includes an employment agreement with a trial period (regardless of the submission date), or Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may request updated information. This includes Job Checks submitted before 29 October 2023 but assessed on and after this date.
The 90-day trial rule will not apply to:
- applications based on already-approved Job Checks; or
- migrants who already hold, or have applied for, an AEWV based on a job check that was approved prior to 29 October 2023 (when the policy takes effect).
AEWV employer accreditation changes
Additionally, technical updates have been made to immigration instructions to clarify the ability to suspend or revoke an employer’s accreditation under the AEWV.
From 29 October 2023:
- An employer’s accreditation can be suspended when INZ or another regulator is taking active steps to confirm an employer or its key people are compliant with immigration, employment and business standards. This includes any verification or compliance activities – not just formal investigations;
- The requirement for accredited employers not to pass on certain costs to migrant workers includes passing on costs to visa applicants, as well as those who already hold a visa.
AEWV Labour hire (triangular) employment threshold change
From 27 November 2023, INZ will be requiring accredited employers who are labour hire (triangular) employment firms who place migrants in specific construction occupations to have at least 35% of their labour hire workforce made up of New Zealand citizens and residents in full time employment. This is an increase from the current threshold of 15%.
INZ will assess the New Zealand workforce threshold at both the accreditation and Job Check stages. Job Checks will fail if the new threshold is not met.
Existing employers will not lose their current accreditation if they don’t meet the new 35% threshold, as long as they continue to meet the 15% threshold. However, INZ will not approve a further Job Check until the employer meets the new threshold.
The increased threshold will only apply to labour hire employers who are placing, or intending to place, AEWV holders in the occupations listed here.
Triangular employer are those who:
- are employing staff for the purposes of placing or assigning the employee with a controlling third party.
- Are one party to an employment arrangement between three parties, with each party having distinct relationships with one another.
Checks for employers with incorrect accreditation are underway.
AEWV processing times
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has made adjustments to its AEWV assessment approach, making more requests for further information from employers to confirm job vacancies are current, vacancies are genuine and whether employers can support the migrants they plan to hire.
As a result, INZ is experiencing an increase processing times for the employer accreditation and job check phases of the AEWV.
Most applications are taking longer than 10 days to process at present. INZ recommends employers allow at least six weeks to apply for an accreditation and six weeks to apply for a job check with current processing times.
If an application has not yet been allocated for assessment and employers need to request urgent allocation, they can use the INZ employment visa escalation process to request that their application is prioritised if necessary.
Note: an application taking longer than 10 days to process is not in itself a reason to be prioritised given the current processing volumes.
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