Recent Changes to Accreditation in New Zealand
As a part of RV21, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has introduced the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) for employers of migrant workers. These changes will affect employers of migrants. The changes will flow down and affect people looking to come into New Zealand for both short and long-term employment.
The main points of the most recent announcement are outlined below. Please note that we still don’t know exactly what documentary evidence is required in totality or the potential exceptional cases that might be approved. We expect another update ahead of the scheme commencing.
The changes made are intended to streamline the accreditation and job check process. Overall, the NZ government seeks to reduce the exploitation of migrant workers and increase wage opportunities for both migrants and Kiwi workers alike.
Median Wage Increase
The median wage is going up to $27.76p/h on 4 July 2022. Migrants starting with their employer on or after that date must be paid $27.76ph in order to be approved an AEWV.
Migrants offered less than $27.76ph will not be granted an AEWV, and no work visa pathway for such lower-paid migrants will exist come 4 July 2022 unless INZ announces exceptions to that rule.
What does this mean? If a role is paid under median wage, then getting work visas will be a thing of the past (excepting Open Work Visa holders).
As an employer, if you or your clients have staff earning less than $27.76 who have visas expiring in 2022 that you wish to retain, you can lodge applications for them under the current work visa rules by 3 July 2022 at the latest, and they will be granted visas for 2 more years. Moving into the AEWV in future, employees will need to be paid, at a minimum, whatever the median wage rate is.
High-volume accreditation no longer requires that a job must pay at least 10% above minimum wage or be covered by a collective agreement. Instead, the new median wage threshold will apply across the board.
This means high-volume accreditation now has the same requirements as standard accreditation. Employers must still apply for high-volume accreditation and pay a higher fee if they want to employ more than 5 workers on AEWV at one time.
Employers can upgrade from the standard to high-volume accreditation at any point during their accreditation period, for a fee. This cost reflects the additional risk assurance activities that INZ may have to undertake, as the impact of non-compliance increases with the greater number of migrants employed by a singular business. Further requirements for high-volume employers may be considered in the future.
Additional accreditation requirements remain for employers who are franchisees or who place AEWV holders with controlling third parties. However, there is now no limit on the number of AEWV holders these employers can employ at one time.
At the job check stage, the labour market test is no longer regionalised. All employers must advertise their vacancies unless the role is paid at least twice the median wage.
There will also be more flexibility in how INZ calculates whether a migrant worker meets the median wage threshold. We expect more details about what factors contribute to these decisions.
For employers to get accredited, and for workers to get their AEWV approved, the process is:
1. Get Accredited: The scheme opens on Monday 23 May 2022 (please note that this was previously 9 May 2022). Accreditation is valid for 12 months when approved. The information required at this stage is as follows:
The business IRD number, therefore the employer must be registered with Inland Revenue (IRD).
The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
Sound Financial Position (we expect no evidence is required, likely just a declaration in the online app)
No convictions regarding immigration related-offences; having not employed unlawful migrants; not banned from being a Director (likely just declarations required again as above).
Allow migrants paid time to complete learning modules online (likely just a declaration again). The employer will need to keep records though for the next accreditation application in 2023.
2. Job Check: Once accredited, evidence needs to be submitted to INZ that the employer has advertised for the roles they need. 2 weeks on a platform like Trademe will suffice. Job checks are open on 20 June 2022.
The INZ fee is $610 for each role the employer is recruiting for.
The advertisement must show the minimum and maximum pay rate, guaranteed hours, and the location of the job.
Job checks are valid for use in an AEWV application for 6 months once it's approved, or until the accreditation expires, whichever is earlier.
So, if a job check is completed in June 2022, and an employer wants to recruit more migrants in Feb 2023, another job check must be completed between January to February 2023.
3. Migrant Check (AEWV application): Once the job check is approved by INZ, AEWV applications for migrant staff can be submitted from 4 July 2022.
The INZ fee is $595 per AEWV application (an increase from $495 at present).
Variation Of Conditions (VOC) are still available, the INZ fee is $190.
AEWV are issued to migrants for a validity of 3 years. Staff that currently have visas do not need to apply for an AEWV until closer to their current visa expiration.
Employers of migrants will pay an INZ application fee based on the level of accreditation and the number of migrants hired.
Standard accreditation of up to 5 migrants at any one time is $740
High-volume accreditation of 6 or more migrants at any one time is NZD $1220
The upgrade fee for employers who want to go from standard to high-volume accreditation is $480.
Employers placing migrants with controlling third parties is $3870
Franchisees will be charged $1980
Additional reconsideration of previously declined employer accreditation application is $240
Employers accredited under the Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme will have the initial AEWV accreditation fee waived, as long as their accreditation has 6 months from 23 May 2022 until it expires
To account for the changes to the AEWV and further decisions to come from the Government, the key dates are now as follows:
23 May 2022: Employers can apply for accreditation
20 June 2022: Accredited employers can submit a job check
4 July 2022 (unchanged): Migrants can apply for an AEWV, where the employer is accredited, and a job check has been completed
3 July 2022: The last day migrant workers can apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa
Employers do not need to apply for accreditation from 23 May 2022, unless they intend to hire migrants on an AEWV soon after 4 July 2022.
The Bottom Line
AEVW changes are fast approaching, and now is the best time to assess your businesses’ accreditation status and find the steps needed to ensure that you’re in a position to take on migrant staff later this year.
More information will be released in the coming weeks. If you want to stay up-to-date, sign up for our mailing list for announcements directly to your inbox.