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New Zealand: New Accredited Employer Work Visa Process to Debut on July 4, 2022

After its original November 1, 2021 launch was delayed, New Zealand’s new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme will now be introduced on July 4, 2022. As part of New Zealand’s recent efforts to increase the skill level of foreign workers, the AEWV program will streamline six current and previous work visa options into a simplified application system.

What’s Changed?

Streamlining of Six Current/Previous Visa Categories

The AEWV will replace the following six current and previous work visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa – will remain open to new applications until AEWV is implemented
  • Essential Skills Work Visa (approved in principle) – will remain open to new applications until AEWV is implemented
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa – closed to new applications on October 31, 2021
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa – closed to new applications on October 31, 2021
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa – closed to new applications on October 31, 2021
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa – closed to new applications on October 31, 2021

AEWV Application Process – Three Step System

Under the new program, sponsoring a foreign worker will be a three-step process that is driven by the sponsoring employer:

  • 1. Company Accreditation – required for all companies wishing to sponsor foreign workers under the AEWV scheme.
  • 2. Job Check – sponsoring employers must apply for a job check for each foreign national they wish to employ under the AEWV program. The job check will confirm that the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with New Zealand employment laws and standards, and that the employer has done a labor market test (LMT) if needed.
    • Labor Market Test (LMT) – an LMT will often be required to ensure that no local New Zealand citizen or resident can fill the role. Exact LMT requirements will be determined based on case specifics, but generally speaking the following exceptions will apply if:
      • the job pays 200% of the median wage, currently NZD $27 an hour
      • the job is in the regions and pays at, or above, the median wage
      • the job is on a skill shortage list, in a city, and pays at, or above, the median wage.
    • Full guidance on LMT requirements for the AEWV scheme can be found here.
    • Note that multiple positions for the same job can be included in one job check if the job details are the same (for example they have the same occupation, pay range, region or city and minimum job requirements), and are all covered by the same advertising (if an LMT is needed) and proposed employment agreement.
  • 3. Migrant Worker Check – upon approval of the Job Check, the foreign national will be eligible to apply for their AEWV to work in that specific job. During this step, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will assess whether the applicant themselves meet the eligibility requirements of the AEWV program.

Sponsoring Company Accreditation

In order to utilize the AEWV scheme, sponsoring employers will need to obtain accreditation for the program. There will be two levels of accreditation:

  • Standard Accreditation will allow the sponsor to employ up to five (5) foreign workers on AEWVs at any given time, and
  • High-Volume Accreditation will allow the sponsor to employ more than six (6) foreign workers on AEWVs at any given time.

Sponsoring companies will need to meet certain eligibility requirements to obtain AEWV accreditation. A full list can be found on the INZ site here.

INZ will begin accepting accreditation applications from employers beginning on May 9, 2022. Approved accreditation will be granted for an initial 12 months and will be renewable in 24-month increments after the initial year.

It is important to note that this accreditation will be required for all companies wishing to sponsor foreign workers under the AEWV program. Any previous corporate accreditations will not count towards this new system.

Additional Notable Changes

In addition to the above major changes, the following should also be noted:

  • AEWV holders will be eligible for permanent residence after holding an AEWV for at least two (2) years and if they are paid at least 200% of the median wage. Details of this application process are still to be announced by the New Zealand authorities.
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa holders are now eligible to change employers to another employer that is previously accredited under the former Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme. This is applicable even if the company’s accreditation expired after March 31, 2021.

Newland Chase Insights

While the new AEWV scheme won’t debut for several months, employers planning on bringing in foreign talent to New Zealand should begin familiarizing themselves with the structure of the new program, the corporate process to obtain accreditation (beginning on May 9, 2022), and make note of the related changes to six current employment visas. Newland Chase continues to monitor the situation closely and will publish any updates as they are made by the New Zealand authorities.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.