Frequently Asked Questions About Employer Accreditation in 2023

What has changed with Immigration New Zealand’s employer accreditation and work visa scheme?

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is a new temporary work visa that Immigration New Zealand implemented on 4 July 2022. Since that date all employers in New Zealand who want to hire migrant workers must now be accredited and have completed the job check process before they can offer employment to a migrant worker who’s eligible for this new type of visa.

Applications for employer accreditation under the previous policy closed on 3 July 2022 and applications for employer accreditation under the new policy opened on 23 May 2022.

The new accreditation process involves a three-check process. The process is employer-led, as opposed to the previous system that was instigated by the employee.

The new process means that before a business can hire a migrant on the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) the employer will need to:

  • Apply for accreditation under the new system (and be approved);
  • Apply for a job check to make sure the role they want to fill cannot be done by New Zealanders and;
  • Request a migrant worker to apply for a visa. The migrant have the skills and experience that match the requirements
    specified in the job check).

If your business needs input from skilled workers from overseas, you must apply for accreditation under the new policy and be approved before you can hire migrants.

How long will the accreditation be valid for?

Initial accreditation lasts for 12 months before you need to renew it. Once you renew it will last for:

  • 24 months for standard businesses, as long as it has not lapsed for 12 or more months.
  • 12 months for franchisees and employers placing migrants with controlling third parties.

When you renew, INZ may ask for evidence that you have completed certain activities that you committed to do during the previous accreditation period. Therefore it’s important you ensure these have been completed before you submit your application for renewal.

NB: Employer accreditation and job check applications approved before the AEWV opened on 4 July 2022 will be granted for a longer duration (with an expiry date of 4 July 2023 for accreditation, and 4 January 2023 for job checks). So you won’t be disadvantaged if you submitted your applications early.

What information does my business need to provide to INZ in our application for accreditation?

To employ migrants on the new Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs), all employers must meet the standard accreditation requirements.

These requirements are intended to ensure all employers hiring migrants meet minimum requirements to support and settle migrants, and to comply with employment and immigration laws.

At a high level, the criteria for standard accreditation include:

You need to be a viable, genuine business able to meet one of these financial requirements:

  • You have not made a loss over the last 2 years;
  • You have had a positive cash flow each month for the last 6 months;
  • You have enough capital or external investment for your business to remain viable;
  • You have a credible two-year plan to ensure your business remains viable.

You must also be compliant with New Zealand immigration law, employment, and business standards.

You and any key people in your organisation cannot be on the Labour Inspectorate stand-down list or permanently banned from hiring migrants – INZ will check this.

If you are a franchisee

You also must have been trading as a franchisee for at least 12 months or have at least 12 months’ experience in another business you own which sells the same goods and services.

If you have more than one employee, at least 35% of your staff must be New Zealand citizens or residents guaranteed at least 30 hours of work each week.

If your accreditation is approved, you must meet this requirement during your accreditation period.

If you are placing migrants with a controlling third party

You must have a history of placing staff in New Zealand for the past 12 months and at least 35% of them must be New Zealand citizens or residents guaranteed at least 30 hours of work each week.

If your accreditation is approved, you must meet this requirement during your accreditation period.

If you are a trust, partnership or sole trader

For trusts, partnerships, and sole traders, the business entity (which has an NZBN) must hold the accreditation, and the employer named on the employment agreement must be one or more of the trustees, partners or the sole trader.

You must not be bankrupt or subject to a No Asset Procedure.

Our business is already accredited with Immigration NZ – do we need to reapply under the new system?

Yes, you do. Some employers accredited under the Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme are exempt from paying a fee when they apply to become an accredited employer under the new Accredited Employer Work Visa policy.

To be eligible for the fee exemption, you must:

  • Have held an accreditation under Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme on 23 May 2022; and
  • Have at least six months’ validity remaining on your accreditation period – meaning your accreditation was due to expire on or after 23 November 2022.

The fee exemption can only be applied for your first application for accreditation under the AEWV policy. The application must be made on or before 23 November 2022.

The talent (accredited employer) scheme closed to new applications on 30 June 2021.

What is the timeframe involved in the employer accreditation process?

There are various steps in the accreditation process, each with different timeframes:

  • Employer accreditation: Immigration New Zealand processing time is around 10 working days.
  • Advertising the role: Before you can apply for a job check, you need to advertise the role for at least two weeks.
  • Job check: Immigration New Zealand’s processing time is 10 working days – but longer if the application is incomplete.
  • Migrant’s visa application: INZ estimates the processing time to be 20 working days.

What are the costs?

Refer to the Accredited Employer Work Visa page for the costs charged by Immigration New Zealand.

What is required in terms of remuneration?

The job must pay the market rate and at least the New Zealand median wage, which is NZD $29.66 per hour, unless it is on an exemption list.

What is a job check? And what is required for an accreditation job check?

Once you have become accredited, the next step is to apply for a job check for each job you want to hire a migrant worker for. If you do not do this, you cannot hire a migrant worker on an AEWV. If you have multiple positions that have the exact same details (for example it is the same occupation, pay range, region/city, and the same minimum job requirements) they can be covered by the same advertising and proposed employment agreement, therefore, can be included on the one job check.

A job check fee is NZD $610 and a reconsideration of declined job check is NZD $240. Once a job check is approved, it is valid for six months or until you no longer hold accreditation, whichever is earlier.

What labour market testing do I need to do?

Highly paid jobs (if the job is being paid at least 200% of the median wage) and is not on the Green List do not have to be advertised. Otherwise, all other jobs must pay at least the median wage and you must have advertised (you must have evidence).

Is there anything special I need to include in the employment agreement?

Yes. If you’re hiring a migrant worker, you’ll need to include the following in the employment agreement:

  • The overtime rate of pay, if applicable. If not, this will need to be stated.
  • Guaranteed hours and actual pay.
  • The number of hours the employee may be asked to work, including any hours paid at overtime rates.

Stating the minimum and maximum hours worked, and overtime rates, isn’t standard in most employment agreements in NZ. That’s why it’s worth engaging experts in this area to ensure your submission to INZ includes everything they need, or your application may be delayed or rejected. Contact us for help.

Do you need help with accreditation processes or works visa applications? How to apply for accreditation

Together with our partners VisaAide and RecruitNZ, we provide end-to-end services so you can recruit the migrant workers your business needs:

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You’ll have one point of contact throughout the accreditation, job check, and recruitment process.

We can manage the entire process for you, or coach you through it.

Do you need help with the accreditation process?

Find out how we can work with you, step by step.
Find out how we can help you: simply send us your details, and you’ll hear from one of our friendly HR advisors within 1 to 2 business days.