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On 4 July 2022, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) opened applications for the new employer-led work visa called the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). This replaced six work visa categories and is now the main vehicle for supporting migrant workers for locally engaged permanent roles. To secure an AEWV, a 3-step application process is followed. This includes:

  1. Employer Check (mandatory accreditation)
  2. Job Check (labour market testing, if required)
  3. Accredited Employer Work Visa
What is the Job Check application?

Once an employer is accredited with INZ a job check application can be submitted. This will request approval to support a migrant worker into a vacant role. Job check applications are made via INZ’s online portal. A job check can be submitted for any role that pays over the median wage (currently $27.76). There are limited exceptions for roles paid below this amount, including in the construction and infrastructure, tourism, and hospitality sectors. Further exceptions are still being negotiated, for example in the seafood processing sector. Most roles that have been approved an exception must be paid at least $25 per hour.

Do I need to advertise the role?

Advertising is typically required as part of a job check application and must be listed for 14 days on a national platform, such as Seek or Trademe. At the end of this period, employers must genuinely consider New Zealand citizen and resident candidates. A job check will only be approved where an employer declares that no suitable local candidates are available to take up the position. Roles on the Green List (here) do not require advertising, provided the candidate meets the listed qualification, experience or pay requirements. If a role pays over twice the median wage (currently $55.52) then advertising can be avoided too. Please note that INZ calculates this income threshold based on the maximum hours an employee could work. In some cases, this puts employees below the required $55.52.

Job Check Tips
  1. Make sure that your advertising meets the mandatory requirements e.g. minimum guaranteed hours, location of the role and salary banding. If it doesn’t, you may need to re-advertise.
  2. Have your employment contracts checked to ensure that they meet the mandatory job check requirements e.g. travel provisions and maximum hours.
  3. If you are likely to recruit for multiple (identical) roles, you can submit one job check application to cover all roles. Importantly, for these Job Check applications key aspects of the role will need to the same, including the job description, location and salary band must be identical. The positions will also need to be covered by the same advertising and employment contract.
  4. Set the requirements for the job check at a minimum (but genuine) level. If the qualification and experience requirements are set too high, it can exclude potentially suitable candidates that don’t meet the exact listed requirements due to technical requirements around e.g. qualifications.
What is the AEWV process?

Once a job check has been approved, a token will be released to allow for the submission of one or more AEWVs. The AEWV application will check that the applicant:

  • Is of good character;
  • Has an acceptable standard of health; and
  • Meets the minimum qualification, experience and/or income requirements listed in the job check application.

Currently, if candidates do not have an acceptable standard of health, they will not be eligible for an AEWV under normal circumstances. Please check with candidates in advance if they have any health issues.

How long with AEWVs be valid for?

Most AEWVs will be issued for three years. AEWVs granted for positions below the median wage will be valid for just two years, before a 12-month stand-down period outside New Zealand applies. This stand-down period can be avoided by transitioning to a role paid at least the median wage.

How things have processed so far?

INZ have advised that as at 3 August, the have received:

  • 8,415 employer accreditation applications since applications opened on 23 May. Over 90% of applications have been decided and all have been approved
  • 3,807 applications for the job check that opened on 20 June. Of those 1,179 job checks have been approved, equating to 8,868 jobs
  • 442 work visa applications, over 70% have been assessed and most are waiting on the applicant to provide their passports.

INZ acknowledge there have been some technical issues that have caused frustration. INZ have working to identify and resolve these as quickly as possible.

As at 8 August 2022, we are seeing employer accreditation applications process within 10 days. Job check applications are taking 3-4 weeks to process on average. AEWV applications are processing in 20 days.

Based on official information released by INZ, only 2 AEWV and 1 transitional AEWV application have been approved between the date the new AEWV category opened and 31 July 2022.

How are existing work visa holders impacted by this new system?
  1. Holders of Essential Skills Work Visas will need to transition to the AEWV when current visas expire.
  2. Partners of AEWV holders will be granted dependent visitor visas only, from December 2022. If they wish to work, they will need to submit an AEWV and meet all criteria. If a principal applicant AEWV holder earns over twice the median wage (currently $55.52) or meets Green List requirements, INZ have indicated that their partners will continue to receive open work visas.
  3. Partners of New Zealand citizens or residents will continue to receive open work visas, after December 2022.
  4. Indications have also been made by INZ that Working Holiday work visa holders may be restricted to working for employers that hold accreditation. Any changes will need to be completed with care due to international obligations and commitments that New Zealand has entered into with other countries.
Our thoughts on the AEWV system moving forward

The AEWV system is employer led and places a high burden on employers. There are important commitments and promises that employers have made as part of employer accreditation and job check applications. We envisage that in the future e.g. at the employer accreditation renewal stage, employers will be asked by INZ to provide evidence that commitments and promises are being complied with. Audit areas will include ensuring that: New Zealand employment modules are being completed, settlement information is being provided to staff, that staff are being paid at least the median wage or twice the median wage, and ensuring that all AEWV holders are working in a manner that is compliant with the conditions on their AEWV. Employers may be caught out by compliance requirements. Our recommendation is to complete audits (which we are happy to help with) to ensure that all requirements are met.

Our experts

Please don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts for advice regarding any aspect of the Job Check and AEWV process. We are well placed to guide you through this change and provide clarity for your next steps.

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