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Update on Accredited Employer Work Visa

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The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will replace the Essential Skills Work Visa when it launches on 4 July 2022.

Employers who want to hire migrants on an AEWV will need to be accredited and submit a job check for relevant roles before they can hire a migrant.

On 3 February 2022, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s plan for reconnecting New Zealand to the world. As part of Step 4, the new Accredited Employer Work Visa will open in July to applications from migrants both in New Zealand and in other countries. The Prime Minister also announced that, as part of planned Immigration Rebalance changes, a new minimum pay threshold, set at the median wage, will be introduced for the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

This has some potential significant impact – as businesses will have this minimum requirement around the pay threshold going forward. The median wage will increase from $27.00 to $27.76 an hour on 4 July 2022.

The Government is currently considering whether there will be any exemptions to the median wage rule and whether additional restrictions should apply for a limited number of roles. More information will be provided when it is available.

More information is available on the Immigration New Zealand website here.

What does this mean for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa?

  • High-volume accreditation no longer includes a requirement that jobs must pay at least 10% above minimum wage or be covered by a collective agreement, as 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 AEWVs at one time.
  • Employers can upgrade from standard to high-volume accreditation at any point during their accreditation period, for a fee. This fee 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 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 – but 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 will need to advertise their vacancies, unless the role is paid at least twice the median wage.
  • There will be more flexibility in how INZ calculates whether a migrant meets the median wage threshold.

Implementation dates for the new Visa

The key dates are now:

  • 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 Accredited Employer Work Visa, where the employer is accredited, and a job check has been completed.

Migrant workers can still apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa until 3 July 2022. 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.

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