Immigration NZ Employer Accreditation: Official Advisory

Official updates from Immigration NZ regarding Employer Accreditation and AEWV (Accredited Employer Work Visa) applications.

Employer Accreditation Applications Open:

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March 22, 2022

New employer accreditation and work visa

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is a new temporary work visa being introduced on 4 July 2022. You must be accredited to hire migrant workers on an AEWV.

Hiring migrants on the AEWV

There are 3 steps to hiring a migrant on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). These are accreditation, the job check, and the AEWV application. You can apply for accreditation from 23 May 2022 and for a job check from 20 June 2022.

Accreditation – what you need to commit to

There are different types of accreditations depending on your business model and in some cases the number of migrants you want to hire.

All accreditation types have the same minimum requirements, but some business models must meet additional requirements. For most employers, accreditation will be simple and not require a lot of documentation.

The accreditation must be held by the direct employer named on the migrant worker’s employment agreement.

Accreditation types

For standard business models, there are two different levels of accreditation, depending on how many migrants you want to employ.

  1. Standard — if you want to employ up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time.
  2. High-volume — if you want to employ 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time.

This only includes migrants on AEWVs. Migrants on other visa types (for example working holiday visas) are not counted toward the total.

There is no difference in the accreditation requirements between standard and high-volume accreditation. Additional requirements for high-volume employers may be considered in the future.

For franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with controlling third parties (including labour-hire companies), there is no restriction on the number of AEWV holders you can employ. But there are extra requirements you must meet.

How much it costs

You will pay a fee based on the level of accreditation you get and how many migrants you hire.

  • Standard accreditation, up to 5 migrants at any one time is NZD $740.
  • High-volume, 6 or more migrants at any one time are NZD $1220.
  • The upgrade fee for employers who want to upgrade from standard to high-volume accreditation is NZD $480.
  • Employers wanting to place migrants with controlling third parties is NZD $3870.
  • Franchisees are NZD $1980.
  • Reconsideration of declined employer accreditation application is NZD $240.

Employers accredited under the Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme will have the fee for their initial AEWV accreditation waived, as long as their accreditation has 6 months from 23 May 2022 until it expires. The Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme is being phased out and has closed to new applications.

Job quota

If you hold standard accreditation a job quota of up to 5 will apply. Each quota space is used when a job check is approved.

The job quota space only becomes available again if:

  • the migrant in the job has their visa expire or canceled
  • the migrant is granted a variation of conditions to work for another employer, or
  • the job check expires or is canceled without a visa being issued.

If you have a full quota, you must apply and pay a fee to upgrade to high-volume accreditation. This fee reflects the additional risk assurance activities that INZ may have to do, as the impact of non-compliance increases with the greater number of migrants employed by a business.

There are no restrictions on the number of AEWV holders you can have at one time.

Requirements for all employers

All employers wanting to hire migrants on AEWVs must meet minimum accreditation criteria.

You must hold a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN). Your NZBN links your business information with our application system.

Most applications will be assessed based on your declarations and automated checks against publicly available information or information held by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

INZ will contact you if we are not satisfied you meet the requirements, or if we want more information to assess your application.

Genuine business

You must be a genuinely operating business.

You must be registered as an employer with Inland Revenue (IRD).

Your business must be in a sound financial position. This means the business must:

  • be profitable (before depreciation and tax) or
  • have the positive cash flow or
  • have sufficient capital and/or external investment or funding (for example from a founder or parent company), or
  • have a plan to ensure the business remains viable.

Businesses operating for less than 12 months must provide evidence they are in a sound financial position. Most other employers will not need to provide evidence upfront.

No recent history of regulatory non-compliance

You and your significant office holders must not:

  • Have recently been convicted of specific immigration-related offenses resulting in a fine or imprisonment.

If you have been convicted of immigration-related offenses, once the stand-down period has ended you must show you have addressed the non-compliance and taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.

  • Be on the Labour Inspectorate stand-down list.

If you or your officeholders have, you will not be eligible for accreditation for a set period of time. The length of the stand-down period will depend on how serious the offense is.

You or your significant office holders must not have:

  • employed a migrant who does not have the right visa or visa conditions to work in that role
  • employed a migrant under terms and conditions not matching those provided on the visa application
  • provided false or misleading information to INZ
  • been banned from acting as a director, or have a pattern of immigration offenses in other businesses you or your officer holders have been involved in.

If you or your officeholders have, you must show you have addressed these issues and taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.

Where offenses have occurred, you must show you have taken steps to prevent it from happening in the business applying for accreditation.

You must ensure everyone making recruitment decisions completes Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights.

You must pay all recruitment costs in New Zealand and outside New Zealand.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • advertising
  • recruitment agency fees
  • employer accreditation fees
  • job check applications
  • trade testing
  • tools where the ownership is retained by the employer.

This does not include migrant worker airfares (although this may be a requirement by the authorities in some countries).

You must not charge fees outside New Zealand which would be illegal if charged in New Zealand, including:

  • payment to secure a job
  • bonding agreements illegally binding workers to a business
  • deductions that are unreasonable or not agreed in writing.

Immigration New Zealand may decline your application if your business has been re-established under a new legal entity and NZBN while remaining the same as another business that has failed to meet the accreditation requirements.

Settlement support activities

You must allow migrant workers time to complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights during paid work hours.

You must provide migrant workers with work-related settlement information including:

  • how to get an IRD number
  • relevant industry training and qualification information and options
  • specific job or industry hazards.

You must provide migrant workers with local community and services information including:

  • accommodation options
  • transport options
  • cost of living
  • how to access healthcare services
  • Citizens Advice Bureau services
  • information about relevant community groups like religious or migrant groups.

Recording these commitments could include a register signed by the migrant worker, and email records between you and the migrant worker.

You should keep records during the accreditation period to show requirements are being met.

Passing the job check

Once you are accredited you must apply for a job check for each job you want to hire a migrant worker for. You can only hire a migrant worker on an AEWV for a job if it has passed the job check.

Multiple positions for the same job can be included in one job check if the job details are the same and are all covered by the same advertising (where required) and proposed employment agreement.

The job check confirms:

  • the job pays the market rate and meets wage thresholds applicable under the relevant job check pathway
  • the job’s terms and conditions comply with New Zealand employment laws and standards
  • you have advertised the job to New Zealanders if you need to
  • the job is for a minimum of 30 hours a week
  • you have advertised the job to New Zealanders, if you need to, including the minimum and maximum expected pay rate and the skills or experience required.

If you offer the job to a migrant but do not hire them, you can offer the job to another suitable applicant. You do not have to redo the job check.

Pathways through the job check

All jobs must pay the market rate and have terms and conditions that comply with New Zealand employment laws and standards.

Other job check requirements will depend on the job’s pay rate and occupation.

Highly paid jobs

If the job is paid at least 200% of the median wage, you do not need to advertise the role.

Visas for these jobs can be for up to 3 years and can offer a pathway to residence. Further details for this pathway will be provided as part of the Skilled Migrant Category review.

All other jobs

All other jobs must pay at least the median wage and you must have advertised to New Zealanders.

Visas for these jobs can be for up to 3 years.

The Government is considering whether there will be any exemptions to the requirement to pay at least the median wage, and restrictions for some other roles.

Median wage

The median wage will increase from NZD $27.00 an hour to NZD $27.76 an hour on 4 July 2022, when the Accredited Employer Work Visa opens for applications.

The median wage increase will apply to job checks submitted from 20 June 2022, when applications for the job check open.

Advertising requirements

The terms and conditions of the job must be clear in the job advertisement. The employer must genuinely consider any New Zealanders who apply.

Advertising must:

  • be for a minimum of 2 weeks on a national job listing website where suitable New Zealanders are likely to apply, or another advertising channel more likely to attract suitable New Zealanders to the specific role
  • show significant terms and conditions including the minimum and maximum pay rate, the minimum guaranteed hours of work, the location of the job
  • show the estimated actual earnings where a significant portion of the pay is by piece rate, commission, or other rates or bonuses that are not guaranteed
  • show minimum qualifications, work experience, skills, or other specifications necessary to do the job.

Calculating the minimum pay rate

To accommodate the median wage threshold, INZ will provide more flexibility when calculating the minimum pay rate for the AEWV.

From 4 July 2022, an employee’s pay will be averaged over the number of hours paid in the pay period. Employers will need to guarantee in their worker’s employment that the equivalent of the median wage will be worked per hour, in each pay cycle. Some employers may need to change employment agreements to provide these guarantees.

Multiple positions

Multiple positions for the same job can be included in one job check if the job details are the same (for example they have the same occupation, pay range, region or city and minimum job requirements), and are all covered by the same advertising (where required) and proposed employment agreement.

Fees

Job check fee – NZD $610

Reconsideration of declined job check – NZD $240

Job check duration

An approved job check is valid for 6 months or until you no longer hold accreditation, whichever is earlier.

Visa application

If the job passes the job check the migrant worker can apply for a visa.

INZ checks if the visa applicant meets the requirements for the AEWV, including that they have the skills and experience for the job.

Pathway to residence

A pathway to residence will be introduced in the future for migrants who have held an AEWV for 2 years and are paid at least 200% of the median wage. The details and timing of this will be considered as part of the review of the Skilled Migrant Category.

Accreditation Levels

21 March 2022

There are different levels of accreditation depending on how many Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders you want to employ. There are 2 main levels for employers that are not Franchisees.

Standard and high-volume accreditation

Standard Accreditation

For employers recruiting 5 or fewer employer-assisted migrants in the next 12 months. This only includes migrants on AEWVs. Migrants on other visa types (for example working holiday visas) are not counted towards the total.

The accreditation must be held by the direct employer named on the migrant worker’s employment agreement.

Franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with controlling third parties (including labor hire companies) must meet additional requirements.

12 months initial accreditation
12-24 months renewal

High-volume accreditation

For employers recruiting 6 or more employer-assisted migrants in the next 12 months.

The standards are expected to be higher than the standard accreditation.

The checks will include attracting and retaining New Zealand workers (evidence of wages, skills, and training) and also checks to ensure the business meets employment standards.

You will need to show a commitment to improving pay and conditions for all employees over time. To show this all jobs you submit at the job check must either have a starting pay rate of at least 10% above the minimum wage or be covered by a collective agreement.

12 months initial accreditation
24 months renewal

Minimum accreditation requirements

All employers wanting to hire migrants on AEWVs must meet standard accreditation criteria.

You must hold a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN).

Most applications will be assessed based on your declarations and automated checks against publicly available information or information held by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).
In some cases, Immigration NZ may ask for more evidence or declarations.

Minimize the risk of exploitation

You must allow migrant workers time to complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights during paid work hours.

You must ensure everyone making recruitment decisions completes Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights.

You must pay all recruitment costs in New Zealand and outside New Zealand. Accreditation will be revoked if INZ discovers this is not the case.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • advertising
  • recruitment agency fees
  • immigration fees for employer
  • job check applications
  • trade testing
  • tools where the ownership is retained by the employer.

This does not include migrant worker airfares (although this may be a requirement by the authorities in some countries).

You should keep records during the accreditation period to show requirements are being met.

These commitments are agreed with INZ by declaration when you get accredited and must be completed during the accreditation period. You must confirm by declaration you have completed them when you apply for your next accreditation.

You must provide migrant workers with work-related settlement information including:

  • how to get an IRD number
  • relevant industry training and qualification information and options
  • specific job or industry hazards.

You must provide migrant workers with local community and services information including:

  • accommodation options
  • transport options
  • cost of living
  • how to access healthcare services
  • Citizens Advice Bureau services
  • information about relevant community groups like religious or migrant groups.

Recording these commitments could include a register signed by the migrant worker, and email records between you and the migrant worker.

You must not charge fees outside New Zealand which would be illegal if charged in New Zealand, including:

  • payment to secure a job
  • bonding agreements illegally binding workers to a business
  • deductions that are unreasonable or not agreed in writing.

All of these commitments will be confirmed by you by declaration and INZ will revoke accreditation if breaches are found.

Extra requirements for high-volume accreditation

In addition to meeting the standard accreditation requirements, if you want to hire 6 or more migrants on AEWVs at any one time you will need to show a commitment to improving pay and conditions for all employees over time.

To show this all jobs you submit at the job check must either have a starting pay rate of at least 10% above the minimum wage or be covered by a collective agreement.

Key dates for accreditation announced

Date: 27 October 2021

From 5 July 2022 Immigration NZ is implementing a new compulsory accreditation system for all New Zealand employers who want to employ migrant workers or retain their current migrants. The change includes the introduction of a new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) to replace 6 of the existing temporary work visas.

Applications for employer accreditation under the new policy open on 9 May 2022 & must be completed/approved before 4 July to recruit under the new rules.

The new accreditation process involves an employer-led 3-check process including the Job Check. Applications for Job Checks open 9 May 2022. This step precedes the application for the worker. Employers may apply for work visas on the old system until 3 July 2022 latest. From 4 July 2022 applications for work visas will be only available for Accredited Employer.

READ THE FULL RELEASE HERE

Date: Tuesday 27 October 2021

 

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa closes to new applications 31 October 2021
Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa closes to new applications 31 October 2021
Applications close for the Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa 31 October 2021
Applications open for AEWV Employer Accreditation 9 May 2022
Applications open for AEWV Job Checks 9 May 2022
Applications close for Essential Skills Work Visa 3 July 2022
Applications open for AEWV Employer Work Visa 4 July 2022

Need help with accreditation processes or works visa applications?

VisaAide and ConsultingHQ are both ready to help employers with all aspects of accreditation, we can support and advise you on a consultancy basis to take care of the entire process for you. Contact Cameron and his team of NZ Licenced Immigration Advisors at VisaAide regarding application processing at Immigration NZ, or the team at ConsultingHQ for HR processes for Employer Accreditation Application.

Use the email links below to make contact easily!