As of 4 July 2022, the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) has commenced and all employers who wish to hire migrant employees will need to be accredited by Immigration New Zealand. This change has been announced by the Government for several years and is now finally taking effect.
What You Need to Know
- The AEWV replaces six work visa types as of 4 July 2022. All employers who want to employ migrant workers using an AEWV must first be accredited by Immigration New Zealand (INZ)
- Employers who only employ migrants holding open work visas (eg: post-study, partnership, working holiday) will eventually be required to become accredited in order to continue employing these workers. The accreditation process will begin in 2023
- From 4 July, you will need to be accredited in order to support new AEWV applications. However, for now, you don’t need to be accredited to continue employing migrant workers with existing work visas but you WILL need to be accredited to support their new work visa renewals in the future and from 2023 onwards if you want employ anyone on any type of working visa – this includes partners, students and working holiday visa holders
- There are four types of employer accreditation
- Standard – to employ up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time
- High-volume – to employ 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time
- This accreditation type also has specific additional requirements for employers who:
Operate as a franchise business
- Place employees with a controlling third-party, such as labour hire companies
The three steps to hiring an migrant with an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) are:
- Step 1 – Employer accreditation-the process of assessing an employer’s credentials
- Step 2 – The job check-when the authorities assess the job details and any associated advertising
- Step 3 – The migrant check – the process of assessing a migrant’s qualifications through the AEWV application
The first accreditation that employers receive is valid for 12 months. After the initial accredited period expires, all renewals will be good for 24 months except in the case of franchise or labour hire businesses, who will need to renew every year.
Work visas will be issued to those whose job pays them $27.76 per hour or more, which is the median pay rate in New Zealand. In the hospitality and construction sectors, specified roles have a minimum pay rate of $25.00 per hour (with some aged care sector roles having a minimum pay rate of $25.30). These categories are eligible for two-year work visas.
Process and Timing
- All processes of accreditation, job checking and AEWV applications are done online
- Employer accreditation applications began on 23 May, and each application is taking an average of 10 working days to process. Please keep in mind that demand might affect how long it takes for your application to be processed
- Job check applications that opened on 20 June and will take approximately 10 working days to process
- Applications for migrant checks/AEWVs that were opened on July 4th will take approximately 20 working days to process
INZ Application Fees
- Standard – $740, High Volume – $1220, Franchise – $1980, Labour Hire – $3870
- Job check: $610
- AEWV application: $750
Employers who are already accredited under INZ’s previous regime, and whose accreditation expires on 23
- November 2022, can be exempt from their initial application fee if they apply before this date.
Standard and High-Volume Accreditation
- Standard accreditation – employ up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time
- High – volume accreditation-employ 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time
- Employers who operate as Franchisees or with triangular employment arrangements are also granted High Volume accreditation
The requirement for accreditation is only based on the number of workers who currently hold, or are expected to hold, an AEWV. The 2023 update will include all work visa holders.
With standard accreditation, a maximum of 5 jobs will be allowed. Each quota space is filled 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 cancelled
- the migrant is granted a variation of conditions to work for another employer, or
- the job check expires or is cancelled without a visa being issued
Once an employee leaves their job, they are still counted against the employer’s quotas until their AEWV expires or is changed to another visa type.
Employers with standard accreditation who need to employ more than five migrant workers will have to upgrade their accreditation.
Criteria and Undertakings Applying to All Accreditation Applications
Employers applying for any accreditation must;
- Hold a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
- Be genuinely operating as a business
- Be registered as an employer with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD)
- Be in a sound financial position which requires the business to:
- Be profitable for the last 24 months (before depreciation and tax) or
- Have positive cash flow for each of last 6 months or
- Have sufficient capital and/or external investment or funding or
- Have a plan to ensure the business remains viable
- Businesses that have been operating for less than a year must show they are financially stable to continue. Most other employers will not need to do this initially but will instead make the necessary statements
- The business and its key office holders must have a clean regulatory compliance record, and they will be required to provide declarations attesting to this.
- Commit to enhanced settlement outcomes
Provide Migrant Workers With Work-Related Settlement Information Including:
- How to get an IRD number
- Specific job or industry hazards
- Choosing where to stay
- Transport options
- Cost of living
- How to access healthcare services
- Citizens Advice Bureau services
- Information about relevant community groups like religious or migrant groups
- Give migrant workers time during paid work hours (in their first month) to finish Employment New Zealand’s online lessons on employment rights
Employers making recruitment decisions must complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules on employment rights every three years.
Pay All Recruitment Costs in New Zealand and Outside New Zealand, Including:
- Recruitment agency fees
- Immigration fees for employer
- Job check applications
- Trade testing
- Tools where the ownership is retained by the employer
- Not charge the migrant worker any fees that would be illegal in New Zealand, such as:
- Payment to secure a job
- Bonding agreements illegally binding workers to a business
- Deductions that are unreasonable or not agreed in writing
- Keep records during the accreditation period to show the above requirements are being met
- When you declare that these commitments will be met as part of your accreditation application, evidence may be requested during the renewal process
Accreditation for Franchise Businesses
A business is considered a franchisee employer if:
- It has bought the right to use a pre-existing business system authorised by a third party
- This means that it uses a brand or trademark owned by another company to advertise or market its products or services
As set out in an agreement, operational guideline or terms and conditions document, that third party controls certain activities or structures within their business. These activities or structures may cover at least one or all of the following features:
- Continuing financial performance or reporting obligations to the third party
- Paying the third party a fee, or part of the profits for the rights to use a brand or name
- Control over where the business can source goods and services or how to set up or run their business, or
- Restricted ability to refuse requests by the third party, raise concerns or complaints regarding the third party, or lack of ability to easily exit or terminate the agreement
- Franchise businesses must have operated for a minimum of 12 months and provide evidence that at least 15% of their workforce are New Zealand citizens or residents employed full time
Accreditation for Employers Who Place Migrants With Controlling Third Parties
Businesses that place workers with third party employers, such as labour hire businesses, are subject to a much more difficult accreditation regime.
A controlling third party is:
- A separate legal entity to the employer named on the worker’s employment agreement, and
- Who has contract with the employer allowing its employees to perform work for the benefit of the controlling third party, and
- Who can direct or control those employees as if the controlling third party was the direct employer
Examples of employers who place people with controlling third parties include:
- Labour hire companies
- Employers who send migrant employees to work for a controlling third party
- Parent or umbrella companies who send their migrant employees to work with a third party such as a subsidiary company or branch that is a different legal entity
To become accredited, employers not only have to meet the regular requirements but also show that they have systems in place to keep track of an AEWV holder’s employment and safety conditions when
working for a third party.
- Respond appropriately to issues raised and identified that affect the AEWV holder
- Have a history of employing staff in New Zealand for the past 12 months
- Have at least 15% of your workforce being placed with controlling third parties as New Zealanders in full-time employment
- Only place AEWV holders with compliant controlling third party businesses. In order to be compliant, businesses must not appear on any stand-down lists and they must declare that they are not under an immigration ban or have no current immigration issues that would prevent them from being accredited
Before the AEWV Holder Is Placed
- Review the documentation to identify how the third party prevents and addresses workplace bullying complaints. This process includes a way for AEWV holders to report bullying incidents and a procedure for resolving these issues.
- assess documentation about the third party’s processes to assess and prevent risk, including a risk register
- assess documentation about the third party’s health and safety induction
- provide information to the third party about the AEWV holders’ visa conditions and terms and conditions of employment
- assess documentation about the third party’s complaints and disputes resolution process
- provide the AEWV holder with a complaints process and guidance to report issues directly to you
- get declarations that the third party and its key people are not subject to a stand-down period or permanent ban for specific Immigration Act or Crimes Act offences and will inform you if they are prosecuted for any such offences after the AEWV holders have been placed.
- get agreement that INZ will undertake a site visit and that the third party agrees to keep records to be given to the employer
- get declarations they do not require or force the AEWV holder to work hours inconsistent with their visa conditions
- get declarations the terms and conditions of the AEWV holders’ employment aligns with health and safety standards
Ongoing Checks After Placement Made
There are many ongoing checks conducted by the government authorities that must be adhered to. Hiring a licensed immigration adviser here would be wise as it can help you be on the right track.
Get a Free Consultation to Help With Your Employer Accreditation and AEWV Requirements
If you are an employer looking to become accredited to employ AEWV holders, contact us today. We can help you through the accreditation process and ensure your obligations as an employer are met under New Zealand Immigration policy. With our expertise and knowledge in the industry, we can provide tailored advice and guidance for employers on how best to meet the AEWV requirements.
Let us take the hassle out of becoming an accredited employer and make sure you meet all the necessary obligations.