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Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Key information about the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

19 February 2024
6 minute read

Some of the statistics below are being manually collated while we update our systems. These statistics will be updated fortnightly. 

The AEWV is the main temporary work visa in New Zealand. It is a new employer-led work visa process to be followed to hire migrant workers.

It is designed to ensure New Zealanders are first in line for jobs and makes it easier for employers to hire skilled migrants where genuine skill or labour shortages exist.

It also helps combat migrant exploitation by ensuring only employers who are accredited can hire migrant workers.

All applications are made through Immigration Online. Applicants submit applications and automated checks take place (for example, medical, character, Police checks) before the application is considered by an immigration officer.

Key information and statistics

Accreditation applications opened on 23 May 2022, job check applications opened on 20 June 2022 and work visa applications opened on 4 July 2022. 

As at 16 February 2024 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has approved 108,938 AEWV applications, and there are 32,797 accredited employers.

Accreditation process 

Before you can invite a worker to apply for an AEWV you must apply to us for employer accreditation, advertise the role if you need to, and apply for a Job Check.

Under the AEWV there are a range of verification steps at the application process through the accreditation, job check and work visa steps, as well as post-accreditation checks.  

We constantly review and adjust our settings to ensure they are fit for purpose and strike the right balance between bringing in the migrants that New Zealand needs and protecting the integrity of the immigration system. 

The accreditation process

Post-accreditation checks 

Post-accreditation checks can occur at any time. We aim to check about 16% of accredited employers each year. As part of the application process, employers are advised there may be follow-up checks to ensure the undertakings and declarations they make during the application are correct and they are a good employer.

Meeting your AEWV accredited employer obligations

The 16% of post-accreditation checks we undertake is a combination of random selection, as well as targeted checks on a sample of all accredited employer types in addition to checks on all franchisee and controlling third party business models and any businesses that have been referred to us through a complaint or issue raised. 

Post-accreditation checks are a routine process introduced as part of the new scheme, and they are not related to investigations into employers of potential concern involving migrant workers holding an AEWV. 

We expect employers to take their responsibilities seriously and comply with AEWV conditions, and there are penalties for employers who do not comply with employment or immigration laws.

As at 16 February 2024:

  • INZ has undertaken 2,712 post-accreditation checks and an additional 596 are underway.
  • MBIE has received 2,107 complaints against accredited employers. This number only indicates an allegation involving an Accredited Employer has been received, not whether the allegation can be substantiated.
  • There are currently 174 active investigations on Accredited Employers underway.
  • 145 employers have had their accreditation revoked and 53 have had their accreditation suspended.
  • 48 employers are under assessment to have their accreditation revoked and no employers are currently under assessment to have their accreditation suspended. Revocations and suspensions are due to a range of reasons, and a number are due to liquidation.

An employer’s accreditation can be suspended if there is an active case to confirm whether the employer or its key people are compliant with immigration, employment or business standards - that would prevent them from being accredited if proven. This includes formal investigations or verification and compliance activities. Suspending an employer’s accreditation minimises immigration harm where there are reasonable concerns that an employer is not complying with the relevant immigration, employment or business standards.

We can revoke an employer’s accreditation if breaches of accreditation standards are found.

There is a due process followed when considering whether to suspend or revoke an employer’s accreditation. The cases are assessed individually, with all related business areas across MBIE, including INZ, working together.

The AEWV replaces the previous Essential Skills work visa, where checks were done on the employer at the point when a migrant applied for a visa.

The vast majority of employers are doing the right thing and treat their migrant workers fairly and well. They are relying on much-needed workers from overseas to fill positions that have been hard to fill within the domestic market. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – of which INZ is a part - actively monitors employers and will take action where there are concerns. 

Non-compliance, stand-downs and permanent bans for accredited employers

Job Change process 

AEWV holders can apply to vary their employer, job, location, under the Job Change application process. This allows AEWV migrants greater certainty, including if they lose their job.

Changing the conditions of a work visa or applying for a Job Change 

Application for a Job Change or a variation of conditions for work visa holders 

AEWV processing 

We have changed our approach on the way we assess Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) applications. We are making more requests for further information from employers to confirm:

  • job vacancies are current
  • vacancies are genuine
  • whether employers can support the migrants they plan to hire.    

As a result, there is an increase in our processing times for the employer accreditation and Job Check phases for Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV).  

Most applications are taking longer than 10 days to process at present. We currently recommend employers allow at least 6 weeks to apply for an accreditation and 6 weeks to apply for a Job Check.

We are working to improve our processing times. For information on our current processing timeframes:
How long it takes to process an application

We continue to improve the Immigration Online platform to raise the customer experience and to enable us to assess applications in a more efficient and timely way.

If we have not yet allocated your application for assessment, and you need us to allocate it urgently, employers can use our employment visa escalation process to ask for priority. An application taking longer than 10 days to process is not in itself a reason for us to prioritise it, given the current volumes we are processing.   

Escalation for urgent applications

Independent Review into AEWV 

An independent review into the AEWV was announced by the Minister of Immigration in August 2023.  

The review will consider and report on the appropriateness of all aspects of the employer accreditation and job check processes undertaken by INZ as part of the AEWV scheme. 

MBIE is supportive of the review. 

While the review is being carried out, we will continue our work, including the processing of applications and responding to cases of migrant exploitation as a priority.

Review into the Accredited Employer Work Visa

Further information  

Accreditation for the AEWV

Accredited Employer Work Visa resources