Employers must be accredited with INZ from 4 July2 May 2022

From 4 July all employers who are wishing to employ a migrant worker must first obtain accreditation with Immigration New Zealand. The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will begin from this date and will replace six existing work visa categories.

So, what do employers need to know, and do, now?

Firstly, employers only need to become accredited if they are employing new migrant workers or supporting the renewal of work visas for existing migrant workers, after 4 July. Accreditation is not required to continue employing migrant workers on their existing work visas but will be required when it comes to applying for new work visas for these workers. Employers should therefore consider extending their employees’ work visas before 4 July to avoid, or delay, the immediate need for any accreditation.

Also, the requirement for accreditation only applies to employer-assisted work visas which are those visas that specify the employment role and employer. Partnership, post-study and working holiday work visas are “open” work visas and employers are not required to become accredited to employ migrant workers holding these work visas.

There are two types of employer accreditation:
• Standard accreditation – for employers employing up to 5 migrant workers (at any one time) on an AEWV
• High-volume accreditation – for employers employing 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs

Initial accreditation will be given for 12 months, and then accreditation will be given for 24 months on renewal – except for franchise and labour hire type employers who will continue to have annual renewals. The INZ accreditation application fee begins at $740 for standard accreditation, $1,220 for high volume and up to $3,870 for the accreditation of labour hire type companies (ie; those who place workers with controlling third parties).

To become accredited employers must be genuinely undertaking business, evidence they are financially viable, and fulfil, what are described as, “settlement support activities”. These include the provision of a range of information to the migrant employee concerning local living conditions and which is probably best achieved by way of an appendix within the IEA. In addition, both the migrant employee, and key employer staff involved in the hiring process, must complete particular online learning modules with Employment New Zealand.

There are a range of additional accreditation requirements for employers using labour hire/triangular employment arrangements, and for franchise businesses including that the business must have been actively operating for 12 months, and at least 15% of employees must be New Zealand citizens or residents.

Applications for employer accreditation open from 23 May. The second stage of the AEWV process, the Job Check, then requires employers to evidence the job terms, and pay, comply with NZ laws and standards, and that the job has been suitably advertised – including advertising the minimum and maximum pay rate! Jobs being paid at circa $115,000 pa (ie; 2 x the median pay) do not need to be advertised. Job Checks can be undertaken from 20 June and another fee, $610, is payable to INZ for this stage – and the final stage, the actual work visa application (when this is finally reached on 4 July), will cost another $595! INZ have estimated the processing time for an accreditation application, and the job check, each at 10 working days, with the actual AEWV application taking another 20 working days. The employer accreditation and AEWV processes will take some getting used to and employers will benefit from professional guidance.

As seems to be the way these days genuine, law-abiding employers are being required to incur significant additional cost and administration in an endeavour to somehow overcome those unscrupulous employers who have exploited their migrant employees. Unfortunately, no amount of legislation will change the ways of those employers, but we must all pay for the exercise…

Link: First published in Waikato Business News April/May Volume 30: Issue 4 2022 Page 19