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New Zealand Announces New Temporary Visa Framework

By 10 May 2021September 13th, 2021No Comments

In brief
The much-anticipated detail of New Zealand’s new temporary visa framework has been released.
A new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and associated mandatory accreditation standards will be introduced on 1 November 2021.

The new AEWV will replace the following visas:

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – Approved in Principle
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa

The new AEWV will involve three steps:

  1. Employer Check: All employers will need to be accredited.  Applications for accreditation can be lodged from late September. No transitional policy will apply and those employers who hold an existing accredited status with Immigration New Zealand will have to reapply under the new system.
  2. Job Check: Checks will be completed to confirm the terms and conditions of the offer of employment comply with employment laws and the labour market test (where relevant) has been met.
  3. Migrant Worker Check: Migrants must show they meet health, character and identity requirements and hold the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application.

More detail
There will be two accreditation levels from employers:

  • Standard Accreditation: For employers wishing to employ up to five migrant workers on AEWVs.
  • High-volume Accreditation: For employers wishing to employ six or more migrant workers on AEWVs.

Labour hire employers and franchisees who want to place migrants on employer supported work visas with third parties will need to meet additional criteria to become accredited under the new framework.  The criteria are expected to be released later this year following further consultation with industry stakeholders.

Employers who do not employ migrants on employer supported work visas (e.g., Open work visas like Working Holiday Visas, Partnership work visas or Post-study work visas) or who only utilise visa pathways not covered by the change, such as Specific Purpose or Event Work visas, are not required to become accredited under the new system.

Accredited Employer status under the new framework will be valid for 12 months in the first instance with renewals being granted for 24 months for Standard and High-volume Accredited Employers.  Franchisee and Labour-hire employers will be granted accreditation for a 12-month duration only, even after a renewal.

  • 30 June 2021: Closure of ability to apply for Accreditation (Talent – Accredited Employer), Labour Hire Accreditation and Approval in Principle (Essential Skills).
  • Late September 2021: New online accreditation application system opens.
  • 31 October 2021: Closure of ability to apply for Talent (Accredited Employer) and Essential Skills work visas under existing immigration framework.
  • 1 November 2021: New temporary work visa framework goes live.

If employers wish to utilise Accreditation (Talent – Accredited Employer), Labour Hire Accreditation and/or Approval in Principle (Essential Skills) between 30 June 2021 and 1 November 2021, they will need to apply for these before the closure on 30 June 2021.
Immigration New Zealand have advised the following in relation to the requirements for New Zealand employers to obtain Accreditation under the new framework:

  • Employers must be a genuinely operating business, including being registered with Inland Revenue and holding a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN).
  • Be in a sound financial position.
  • Not have a recent history of non-compliance with immigration and employment laws, and
  • will take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation including:
    • completing online employment modules
    • allowing migrant workers time to complete online employment rights modules during paid work hours
    • paying all recruitment costs inside and outside New Zealand
    • providing workers with work-related settlement information and local community and services information

In addition, higher volume employers will need to commit to improving pay and employment conditions over time by meeting a minimum pay requirement of 10% above minimum wage unless covered by a collective agreement.  Commitments on training and upskilling New Zealanders will also be required; however, the detail of this requirement is still under review.

Temporary Visa holders
Under the new framework, Immigration New Zealand have advised the following in relation to temporary visa holders:

  • Employers must complete and pay for the employer accreditation and job check before a AEWV can be applied for.
  • Work visa applications under the existing visa framework, such as Talent – Accredited Employer Visas or Essential Skills Work Visas, can be applied for up to and including 31 October 2021.
  • Talent – Accredited Employer Work Visa holders who have a Residence from Work application in process can continue to apply for a further Talent Visa beyond 1 November 2021, assuming they remain with their employer.
  • A residence pathway will exist for migrant workers paid twice the median wage and employed by an accredited employer for a minimum of 24 months (more details are currently being worked on and have not yet been released).

Next Steps
Those employers who are likely to require migrant talent from 1 November 2021 are encouraged to apply for accreditation under the new framework from late September, when the system is expected to be live.  Immigration New Zealand does not anticipate processing timeframes to exceed the current accreditation application processing timeframes; however, it would pay to be proactive in this instance.

If you would like to discuss the upcoming changes in greater detail and how they impact your business and employees, please do not hesitate to us.

DISCLAIMER This information is current as of date of publication and subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Have more specific questions about your visa? Get in touch with Ajuria Lawyers today.

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Author Lillian Ajuria

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