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As of July 2021, significant changes to employer-assisted work visas are underway. From 1 November 2021, the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEVW) will replace 6 work visas.
From 1 November 2021, the AEVW is replacing the following 6 work visas:
• Essential Skills Work Visa
• Essential Skills Work Visa – approved in principle
• Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
• Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
• Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
• Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa
The new system has 3 checks before an employer can hire a migrant worker:
1. The employer check – the employer must be accredited under the new scheme;
2. The job check – the job itself must meet immigration and employment requirements; and
3. The worker check – the applicant must meet the job, character and health requirements.
To meet the standard accreditation requirements, employers must:
1. Be genuinely operating a business – this includes being registered with IRD and holding a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN).
2. Not have a recent history of regulatory non-compliance with immigration or employment laws.
3. Take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation of migrant workers – this includes allowing migrant workers to complete online employment rights modules during paid work hours and paying all recruitment costs (both in and outside of New Zealand).
If an employer intends to hire 6 or more migrant workers, this is considered high-volume accreditation and employers must also:
4. Show a commitment to improving pay and conditions for employees over time – this includes ensuring a job submitted at the Job Check stage either pays 10% above the minimum wage or is covered by a collective agreement.
Note: there are additional criteria for franchises and labour-hire companies.
• From 30 June 2021: Immigration New Zealand no longer accepting new or renewal employer accreditation applications under existing scheme.
• August: Fees for the 3-stage check process will be confirmed.
• Late September: employers can begin applying for accreditation under the new scheme.
• 31 October 2021: the last day applications will be accepted under current instructions for the work visas being replaced.
• 1 November 2021: AEWV category comes into force.
Considerations for current employers
Some considerations during this transition period:
• It is not yet known whether there is a pathway to residency under the new AEWV.
• Consider whether it would be advantageous for eligible current employees to apply under the essential skills or work to residence visa categories, before 31 October 2021.
• The impact of the median wage increase to $27.00 per hour from 19 July 2021, noting the 1-year stand down period will still apply to AEWV holders who have been working for 3 years and paid less than the median wage.
• Getting ready for accreditation come September/ October 2021.