The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is the main job-based temporary work visa and involves 3 steps:
  • Step 1 - employer accreditation where the employer’s credentials are assessed
  • Step 2 – the job check where the job details and any job advertising are assessed
  • Step 3 – the migrant check, comprising the AEWV application, and is where the migrant’s credentials are assessed.
The AEWV requires the visa applicant to be paid at least at the NZ median wage (currently $29.66 ph). However, a lower payrate may be possible if the employment is in certain industry sectors such as within the care workforce, hospitality, tourism, and transport sectors.

For employment that is remunerated on a salary basis the employment agreement must include a clause confirming the maximum number of hours to be worked in any week - and this number will be used by INZ to calculate the hourly payrate, and whether this at, or above, the median wage.

From 27 November 2023, AEWVs are being issued for 5 years. Existing AEWV holders will be able to extend their existing AEWVs out to a maximum of 5 years. This “extension” does not require the use of any Job Check.
Employment agreements are now no longer able to include a 90-day trial clause. This change was made from 29 October 2023 by INZ in an endeavour to combat migrant exploitation. INZ was seeing increasing incidences of AEWV holders arriving in New Zealand to find there was no job, or the work differed from their employment agreement, or the work ended very soon after their arrival. The removal of the 90-day trial clause is expected to make employers exercise much greater care in their employment of migrant workers by ensuring they must go through normal employment termination processes to end the employment.

While the new Government has said it will reinstate the 90-day trial for all employers it is possible the above change will be retained for AEWV workers as a means of combatting migrant exploitation. Specialist advice should be sought on the impact of this change and on other options which may be available to employers (e.g., a probation clause?).

Visa Processing times

As a consequence of the growth in migrant exploitation INZ has now backtracked on its previous “light touch” approach to employer accreditation, job checks and AEWV applications. Such applications are now undergoing additional checks with processing times being significantly extended – e.g.: job check applications which were taking 5-10 business days are now taking 20-40 days. Expect ongoing delays as the pressure comes on INZ to combat the current high levels of migrant exploitation.

Holders of post-study, partnership-based and working holiday work visas have open work rights and can work in any role. However, some partners of AEWV holders are restricted to working only for accredited employers and at the median wage (or above).