Employer leads visa application process

The new 3-check visa application process is led by the employer before the migrant applies. The introduction of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa is postponed until mid-2022.

New application process

The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) application process will be employer led. Before hiring a migrant on the AEWV employers will need to:

  • apply for accreditation under the new system
  • 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 will need to meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the job check.

Single visa replaces 6

The AEWV replaces these 6 work visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa (remains open until AEWV introduced)
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle (remains open until AEWV introduced)
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa (closing 31 October 2021)
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa (closing 31 October 2021)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa (closing 31 October 2021).

New system has 3 checks

The system will introduce 3 checks before an employer can hire a migrant worker. These checks are:

  • the employer check — employers need accreditation to pass this
  • the job check
  • the migrant worker check.

Employer check

The employer check will replace 3 current employer schemes:

  • approval in principle (AIP) before an employer hires workers on an Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Accreditation as a Talent Accredited Employer, and
  • Labour Hire employers' accreditation for essential skills work visas.

These employer schemes closed to new and renewing applications on 30 June 2021.

To pass the employer check you need accreditation in the new system. Only accredited employers can hire a migrant worker on the AEWV.

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

The new accreditation levels are:

  • standard accreditation — for employers who want to have up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time
  • high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to have 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time.

Franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with controlling third parties (including labour hire companies) will need to meet additional criteria to get accredited.

Immigration New Zealand will provide a further detailed definition of what franchisee business models must meet these requirements before the AEWV is introduced.

Accredited Employer Work Visa Factsheet PDF 413KB

Job check

The job check will confirm the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with our employment laws, and you have done a labour market test if you need to. 

A labour market test shows you have genuinely advertised the role to New Zealanders and there are no New Zealanders available to do the job. For jobs paying below the median wage, the labour market test includes checking with the Ministry of Social Development.

Jobs paying 200% of the median wage do not need a labour market test. Jobs paying at, or above, the median wage in regions also do not need a labour market test. In cities, jobs that are on a skills shortage list and pay at, or above, the median wage don’t need a labour market test.

You can only hire a migrant worker if the job check is passed. Employers pay for a job check.

Note

More information on the specific advertising requirements, jobseeker engagement and confirmation of the different region and city settings will be available before the AEWV is introduced.

Current labour market test requirements continue to apply for essential skills visa applications.

Sector agreements

Some industries hire large numbers of migrant workers — sector agreements may be negotiated with them. Agreements will include a workforce plan and conditions on recruiting a temporary migrant worker for specific occupations in the sector.

Note

Introduction of sector agreements has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AEWV migrant worker check

The migrant worker check is where the migrant worker applies for a visa. It is the last step in the AEWV process. The migrant worker must show they meet INZ’s character, identity and health requirements, and meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application.

Migrant workers or employers pay for this check.

Further information on fees will be announced before the AEWV is introduced.

When to apply for accreditation

The Government has decided to defer the introduction of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa until mid-2022.

Employers will be able to apply for accreditation before the AEWV is introduced.

Employers accredited under the current system will need to apply and meet the policy requirements of the new accreditation system.

Employers only need to be accredited under the new system when they want to start hiring migrants on AEWVs.

Transitioning to the new accreditation system

The following employer policies closed to new and renewing applications on 30 June 2021:

  • Accredited Employer (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Labour Hire Accreditation (Essential Skills)
  • Approval in Principle (Essential Skills) – this does not include approval in principle for other policies including AIP for foreign crew of fishing vessels.

Employers can support work visa applications under the Essential Skills work visa category until the AEWV is introduced.

Essential Skills Work Visa

In between the existing Labour Hire Accreditation closing and the new accreditation policy being implemented, Labour Hire Accreditation will not be mandatory for labour hire employers supporting Essential Skills Work Visas for jobs in the construction industry in the Canterbury region.

What migrant workers need to know

The Government has deferred the introduction of the AEWV until mid-2022. When the AEWV is introduced, it will replace 6 temporary work visas.

The new visa process is led by the employer offering the job. Your potential employer must complete the employer accreditation and job check before you apply for a work visa.

If you have a current temporary work visa you will not be affected as long as you are meeting your visa conditions and your visa remains valid.

If you have a Residence from Work visa application underway (requiring a further Work to Residence visa to be granted residence), you will be able to continue this process if you remain with your employer.

The changes to accredited employer work visas will not affect other work visas holders.

Temporary work visas not affected

The following temporary work visas will not be changed by the new visa system:

  • Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited Visa
  • Working holiday schemes
  • Post-study Work Visa
  • Fishing Crew Work Visa
  • Religious Worker Work Visa
  • Specific Purpose Work Visa
  • partnership work visas including Partner of a Worker Work Visa, Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa and Partner of a Student Work Visa
  • work visas granted for international or humanitarian reasons, such as domestic staff of diplomats, consular and official staff, and for refugee or protection status claimants.

Policies continued

People who hold visas based on work paid below the median wage will still have to leave New Zealand for a 1-year stand down period after they have been working for 3 years.

Note

The stand down period policy is currently suspended until 30 June 2022.

The new visa will still have conditions specifying an employer, job and location. To change any of these the visa holder will still have to get a variation of conditions or apply for a new visa.

Current work visas remain valid until their expiry date if all employment conditions are met.

Progress so far

The Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa salary threshold is now 150% of the median wage (NZD $79,560).

The threshold for determining the conditions of an Essential Skills Work Visa is now the median wage.

How pay rates affect Essential Skills Work Visas

Keep up with changes

Employers, industry bodies, regional organisations, recruitment advisers, immigration advisers and non-governmental organisations can subscribe to receive email updates.

Change email address, new subscribers | INZ update email

Release of immigration information | MBIE.govt.nz

Timeframe

In July 2021, the Government announced changes to the Essential Skills Work Visa policy settings. As a result of these changes, the introduction of the Accredited Employer Work Visa, which was due to come into effect on 1 November, was deferred until mid-2022. This webpage will be updated when the Government confirms a new introduction date.

Essential Skills Work Visa changes