If you employ migrant workers...

What is accreditation?

It is a new system focussed primarily on employers. To be able to employ migrant workers in your business once the new system comes in later in 2021 you will need to apply for accreditation with INZ. There is no way around it - you MUST become accredited whether you employ 1 migrant worker, or 100+ migrants. Once accredited, you will be able to hire migrant workers on an employer-assisted work visa.

Who needs to become accredited?

EVERY employer of migrant workers needs to become accredited. INZ indicates that this applies to around 22,000 businesses in New Zealand.

Why are the changes happening?

Increased compliance

INZ are seeking to ensure employers of migrants have good workplace practices in place, are financially sustainable, and are compliant with relevant employment and immigration legislation. INZ will check to see whether you appear on a list of non-compliant employers when you apply for accreditation. More about the rules affecting non-compliant employers can be found here.

Decreased migrant exploitation

Through requiring employers to become accredited, INZ will be able to keep a closer eye on the employment conditions which migrants are subject to, in order to reduce/eliminate exploitation of migrant workers. Exploitation is a sad reality of the labour force even here in New Zealand, and the government is keen to reduce it. INZ provides more information about what exploitation is here, and the penalties are severe.

Increased engagement with the local/NZ labour force

As part of the process, you will need to prove that you have a good history of advertising locally and nationally to recruit suitably qualified New Zealand workers. As always, New Zealand workers should be given first priority, with migrant workers filling any gaps.

VisaMaxNZ encourages employers to utilise TradeMe Jobs when seeking to employ staff. Evidence of advertising on TradeMe Jobs is readily accepted by INZ when you are applying for visas for staff, and is more cost effective than other advertising platforms.

When do you need to become accredited?

The changes to the employer accreditation system have been on the radar since August 2019.

INZ have stated that the changes are likely to be implemented from July 2021, however this may be pushed out a few months while they tweak the settings. The effect of Covid-19 on the border and local labour market have created significant challenges for INZ so it is important that the government takes the time to get the new accreditation system set up correctly before it is rolled out.

The immigration industry is expecting to hear more from INZ by the end of April 2021 about when the new accreditation system will open, and what the exact requirements will be. VisaMaxNZ will provide an update as soon as the announcements are made.

How do you become accredited?

INZ has indicated that there will be 2 types of accreditation:

Standard: for employers of 5 or less migrant workers on work visas. We expect that the process to apply for standard accreditation will be done via an online system where you must declare that you have and will comply with relevant regulatory requirements.

High Volume: for employers of 6 or more migrant workers on work visas. This is also likely to be an online application process where you must declare that you are committed to improving pay and employment conditions, as well as training and upskilling New Zealand employees.

For each type, INZ will check to ensure you are not on the list of non-compliant employers.

How long does accreditation last?

Initial accreditation will last for 12 months once you have been approved under the new system.

When you apply for renewal towards the end of your initial accreditation, your next accreditation will likely be for 24 months.

What are the costs for you to become accredited?

INZ have not yet announced what the fees will be to apply for accreditation. We will be posting the relevant fees as soon as they are announced.

What happens if you don’t become accredited?

You will not be able to hire migrant workers who are applying for an employer-assisted visa.

You will still be able to hire migrant workers who hold an Open Work visa, or Students who have work rights on their visa, or Working Holiday visa holders with relevant work rights, or migrants who are NZ resident visa holders. There are no changes to how INZ assess such migrants, because they do not need to apply for an employer-assisted visa. The changes that are happening only affect migrants who are applying for an employer-assisted visa.

Can you apply for accreditation without using an immigration lawyer or adviser?

Yes you can. It looks like the accreditation process will be online, based on information you already know and hold about your organisation, therefore INZ are likely to make it easy for you to be able to apply for accreditation yourself.

What can I do now to prepare for accreditation?

The best first step you can take at this time is to apply for a NZBN here. If you are a company or other organisation already listed with the Companies Office it is likely you already have a NZBN.

If you are a sole trader, partnership or trust then you may need to apply for a NZBN, and we encourage you to start the process now to apply for it.

You should also take the time to review the HR profiles for your migrant staff in the following way to ensure best practice at all times:

Check that the following are uptodate and readily available:

-       Copy of the current Visas for your migrant workers

-       Copy of the signed employment agreements for migrant workers

-       Copies of any advertising you have conducted within the past 12-24 months

-       Passport copies for your migrant staff

-       PAYE records

-       Tax numbers for migrant workers

-       A full list of migrant staff you currently employ, including full name, current address, date of birth, next of kin details, phone number and email address.

What happens once you are accredited?

Once you have become accredited, in order to apply for a work visa for your migrant staff the next step is called the Job Check. This involves you proving that you have conducted advertising nationally to attempt to recruit New Zealanders first, and that the job on offer meets market rate requirements and compliance with employment legislation.

Industry Sector agreements are being negotiated between INZ and the main industries in New Zealand - the Job Check requirements for large employers of migrant workers are likely to be different and not necessarily require advertising to be done when supporting individual migrant worker’s applications.

Once the Job Check is conducted then the final stage is the Migrant Worker Check. INZ will assess the migrant worker’s health, character, identity and that the worker is suitably skilled through qualifications and/or work experience for the job on offer. This will be an online process.

At each of the 3 stages (Employer Check/Job Check/Migrant Worker Check) fees will apply, payable directly to INZ.

Is there still a stand-down period in place for migrant workers paid under the median wage?

Yes, even under the new system there will be a stand-down period that applies to migrant workers who have been in New Zealand for three years on a visa for work where they are paid under the median wage (currently classified as ‘Low Skilled’ Work Visas).

What about migrant workers who currently hold visas expiring after the new system comes into force?

Your current migrant workforce are not affected by the changes - their visas remain valid inline with their current conditions. When they come to apply for renewal then their next visa will be processed in line with the new changes.

If you recruit new migrant workers once the changes come into force then yes they will be processed in line with the new changes (Employer Check/Job Check/Migrant Worker Check).

Where can you find more information from INZ about the changes?

For current news from INZ about the accreditation process please see here.

To sign-up with INZ to receive updates directly from the government about changes to immigration policies please do so here.

How can VisaMaxNZ help you become accredited?

We can work with you to ensure you are compliant and to answer any questions you may have about the new accreditation process.

As always, VisaMaxNZ will offer low cost or free services where possible. More about our rates for helping you with the accreditation and visa process for your staff will be available once INZ announce full details about the process.

VisaMaxNZ assists you to achieve positive Visa outcomes for your migrant labour force. Get in touch with us at any time with any questions you have about the New Zealand Visa process via our website or by emailing contact@visamaxnz.com

Contact VisaMax NZ today