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Immigration NZ’s New Accreditation: what employers need to know

As many of you will be aware, the Government has introduced a new work visa which comes into effect from 1 November 2021. This new visa is the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and it replaces six current visa types.

This change has a significant impact on employers who intend to employ people under this new visa category. Prior to hiring people under the AEWV, the employer will need to be “accredited” with Immigration New Zealand. In order to become accredited with Immigration New Zealand, employers will need to submit an application and have this approved. While the specific details on this application process are yet to be released, it is vital that employers who intend to hire people under this new visa begin preparations now.

We have reviewed the information that has been released and put together some practical steps that employers can do now to help prepare them for the accreditation application process. You can find this information at the bottom of this blog post.

This new visa type will be replacing the following visa types

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (this closed in 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa

Applications open in September 2021 and there is likely to be a bottleneck. If you need to hire people under this visa within four months of November 2021, we suggest applying as soon as possible to ensure your application is approved in time.

Please be aware that this new accreditation status is different from the current one, and employers who are currently accredited will still need to submit an application.

What we know about the application process:

There are two types of accreditation:

  • Standard accreditation (for employers who want to have up to 5 people on AEWV at any one time)
  • High-volume accreditation (for employers who want to have 6 or more people on AEWV at any one time)

There are also additional requirements for franchisee employers and for employers where employees are in a triangular employment relationship (e.g. labour hire).

Franchisee employers will also:

  • have to have been operating for at least 12 months; and
  • have a history of hiring New Zealand workers.

To understand what is considered a triangular employment relationship you can read a previous blog post here. These employers will need to ensure that the business, where the employee is placed, is considered “compliant” in terms of employment and immigration requirements.

Standard Accreditation requirements:

The purpose of these requirements is to ensure all employers hiring under this visa type meet their employment and immigration obligations.

Employers must:

  1.     be a genuinely operating business
  2.     not have a recent history of regular non-compliance
  3.     take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation

High-volume Accreditation requirements:

In addition to meeting the above Standard Accreditation requirements, this application process will include demonstrating that the employer has a commitment to improving pay and conditions for all employees over time.

The Government is also considering if employers will be required to make a commitment to training and upskilling New Zealanders.

How to prepare

Some requirements are still being considered by the Government and industry bodies. We are hoping that more information about what employers will have to specifically include in the accreditation application will be provided before applications open.

In the meantime, it is important that employers begin preparing now to ensure they are in a good place to be approved and avoid possible delays in the application process.

Below is a list of what employers can be doing now:

  • Identify and rectify any past non-compliance or immigration issues. You will need to be able to evidence this.
  • Review your HR documentations to ensure it is compliant, up to date and best practice. This includes your employment agreement templates and policies. This will help identify what needs to be updated and what you may need to introduce. It is good to have the following documentation in place:
    • A letter of offer
    • An application form (including questions to ensure the worker has the appropriate visa type)
    • Permanent employment agreement template
    • Disciplinary Procedures
    • Bullying and Harassment Policy
    • Guidelines of how the employer will improve pay and conditions over time
    • A Diversity and Inclusion Policy
    • A policy outlining recruitment practices. Employers will need to show that they have made real attempts to recruit New Zealanders.
  • Review your systems now to give you time to correct any issues. E.g. is your payroll system compliant? Do you have a system in place to ensure your workers have valid work visas?
  • Get your documentation and systems in order now so that you can demonstrate a history of good work practices.

We can assist you in identifying and rectifying any past issues, including holiday pay errors and minimum entitlement breaches.

We are also able to work with you to ensure you are in the best position possible when you submit your application.

Please contact Kim James on [email protected] or 021454597 if you would like to have a conversation about how we can support you to be prepared for this upcoming requirement.

Written by, Kim James (Business Partner)

Disclaimer

This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

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