HOW THE 2021 NZ WORK VISA CHANGES (AEWV) WILL AFFECT MIGRANT WORKERS & EMPLOYERS

May 24, 2021

Immigration New Zealand has announced major changes in work visa policies that will affect migrant workers and their employers. Starting on 1 November 2021, a new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will replace six existing work visa categories, including the Essential Skills Work Visa, Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa and Long Term Skills Shortage List Work Visa. The process for other work visas, such as the Partnership and Post Study categories remain unaffected by these changes.

The new application process for AEWV means that only accredited employers can hire a migrant worker on the AEWV. There are three types of employer accreditation:

  1. Standard - for employers wanting to have up to 5 migrants working on an AEWV at any time

  2. High Volume - for employers who want to employ six or more migrant workers on an AEWV at any time. This accreditation seems to require employers to pay workers at least 10% above the minimum wage which is $20 per hour. They also need to show a commitment to ongoing wage increases and training NZ workers.

  3. Others - for franchisees and labour hire employers who need to meet additional criteria before they get accredited.

We understand that employers can apply for their accreditation from late September 2021. The initial accreditation will be issued for 12 months, and then renewed for 24 months for the standard and high-volume accreditation employers. The application fee is not confirmed yet.

Put simply, the process to obtain a work visa under the AEWV category comprises of three checks:

  1. Employer Check – Consists of the employer accreditation process

  2. Job Check – This includes a check whether the job pays the current market rate, and whether the employer has made genuine efforts to recruit a NZ worker for the job (the labour market test).

  3. Migrant Worker Check – The worker makes an AEWV application. Here, INZ checks whether the migrant worker meets INZ’s health and character requirements and whether the migrant worker meets skills and experience stipulated at the job check stage.

We understand that AEWVs will be issued for 1 or 3 years. We also understand that a Residence Visa from Work Visa pathway will be available for AEWV holders earning twice the annual median wage, which presently is $106,080.

Whether you are a migrant worker in New Zealand, or a New Zealand employer wishing to hire migrant workers, please get in touch with BK Immigration Law. We would be happy to discuss these work visa changes with you.