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Immigration Update April 2024

New Zealand: Immigration Update April 2024

The New Zealand Government have announced major changes to Immigration policy. The changes primarily impact upon the Accredited Employer Work Visa category, including due diligence around Job Check applications and also your Employer Accreditation obligations. The changes were announced on Sunday the 7th April and are effective immediately in most cases, so it’s important that steps are taken to address any requirements moving forward.  


What’s Changing?

Immigration New Zealand will be assessing occupations for Accredited Employer Work Visas against ANZSCO (Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations). These classifications have been used by Immigration New Zealand in the past, so many will be familiar with their application.

ANZSCO defines roles with a broad description and applies a level to each position between 1 and 5. ANZSCO levels 1, 2 & 3 are generally management or technical positions, where levels 4 & 5 are typically administrative or labour based roles which don’t necessarily require experience or advanced qualifications. The changes that have the most impact on visa holders only relate to those in level 4 & 5 positions.

If you need to determine the ANZSCO classification for existing or prospective employees who require an AEWV, you would need to find the position that most closely matches their position, skills and experience on the ANZSCO list, then refer to the level noted in this classification. You can find the lists here.

Requirements for Employers

Immigration NZ have introduced additional requirements at the hiring stage. Employers are now required to maintain a record which shows that you have checked the candidate meets both the new minimum skills criteria outlined by INZ, as well as the requirements you’ve outlined in the Job Check, before you offer them the position.

In order to meet the INZ requirements, migrants will need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • the job you are hiring for is on the Green List and they meet the Green List’s job requirements
  • the job you are hiring for pays at least NZD$59.32 an hour (twice the February 2023 median wage)
  • they have 3 years or more of relevant work experience
  • they have a relevant qualification of Level 4 or higher on the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF).

Supporting evidence must be from a third party, this could be a letter from their previous employer, an education provider or the relevant occupational registration body.

You’ll also need to keep a record that you have checked the person is suitably qualified to meet the requirements you’ve outlined in the Job Check. This could include a practical test or another demonstration of their knowledge during their interview, or the supporting documents which confirm what they’ve outlined in their CV.

Detailed information regarding what is considered sufficient evidence is available here

Moving forward, as part of the Job Check process where advertising is required, Employers will also need to make a declaration that none of the New Zealanders who applied for the position were suitable and available. In the case of level 4 or 5 roles, employers will be required to provide more compelling evidence that any New Zealanders who did apply were not ‘suitable and available’ to perform the role.

For level 4 & 5 positions, employers will also need to engage with Work & Income in addition to advertising, similar to past immigration settings. More information is available here

Accreditation Obligations

Immigration New Zealand have now further defined the penalties associated with non-compliance for accredited employers, which includes suspension or revocation of your accreditation and also instant fines in some cases.

It’s a good time to revisit your accredited employer obligations, in particular as the time for renewal is approaching for many employers.

One key point which may have been overlooked is the requirement to advise Immigration New Zealand of changes to key people within your organisation within a 10-day period. The guide to ‘post-accreditation checks’ provides some useful information and is available here.

There is also an important new requirement. In the past employers were not obliged to provide evidence that they have notified Immigration NZ when a migrant left their employment. Moving forward, reporting will form part of the accreditation obligations. This requirement will only apply from the next time you renew (or upgrade) your accreditation. Thereafter, you’ll need to complete a confirmation form and email this to [email protected] within 10 days of the worker leaving your employment. 

Moving forward, employers will also need to provide migrant workers with a minimum of 30 hours of employment per week. This will be a condition noted on the employee’s AEWV and employers who do not provide at least 30 hours per week can have their accreditation revoked.

New minimum skill & language requirements for Level 4 & 5 positions

Moving forward, applicants offered positions at ANZSCO level 4 or 5 will need to provide evidence to show that they have the appropriate qualifications and/or experience to perform the role that they have been offered. These additional requirements do NOT apply if the position is on the Green List and they meet the requisite conditions, or if applicants are earning more than twice the median wage.

In addition to the skills and experience noted by you as the employer in the Job Check, as a standard they’ll have to provide evidence that they have either:

Immigration Update April 2024 Table1

Applicants for level 4 or 5 positions will also be required to provide evidence that they have an acceptable standard of English language proficiency. For more information around how to evidence this, employees can visit: English Language Evidence

Shortened visa duration and ability to extend

The maximum visa duration for applicants who are offered level 4 or 5 positions has been reduced to two years. Visa holders can apply for one further year; however this will require a new Job Check application.

The maximum continuous stay for existing visa holders for level 4 or 5 positions has also been reduced back to three years. Visa holders will need to leave for a stand down period before they can apply for a new Work Visa, which will usually be 12 months. Visa holders who were already issued with 5-year visas won’t be impacted, the duration will remain 5 years, with the same 12 month stand down period post the expiry of their visa.

A five-year visa will continue to be provided to those offered level 1, 2 or 3 positions, along with those who are working in a occupation on the Green List (and meet requirements), or those in transport and care sector agreements who are on a pathway to residence. Visa holders who are earning 1.5 times the median wage will also still be eligible for 5-year visas.

What do I need to be aware of?

It’s important to carefully consider your accredited employer obligations as further scrutiny will be applied. As part of the new requirements, you should also ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to both action and retain a record of how you’ve vetted new employees in terms of both the INZ requirements and the requirements stated in the Job Check.

Appropriate procedures should also be implemented to ensure that INZ is notified of any migrants who leave employment. From an immigration perspective, this hasn’t been a mandatory requirement in the past, so would not be part of the standard ‘off-boarding’ process for most.

If you do have migrant employees who are in level 4 or 5 positions, then it’s important they are aware of the implications around the duration of their stay in New Zealand. 

The changes and additional scrutiny being applied at both the Job Check and AEWV stages, is likely to create delays in processing. Immigration New Zealand have advised that they anticipate AEWV may take up to 12 weeks to process under the new conditions, which is significantly more than would typically be expected. This is on top of the typical time frames to obtain police clearances, medicals and other supporting documentation, which now includes English language proficiency in some cases. You may need to carefully consider contract start dates and implications around project-based work etc.

What does this mean for my employees?

Existing employees who are at skill levels 4 & 5, currently holding a 3-year AEWV, may have been anticipating being able to apply for a further two-year visa, so it’s important they are aware of the change.

New employees will be required to provide more supporting evidence as part of their application, which can be complex and challenging, without the right advice.

For any employees who are in the process of applying, given the delays highlighted above it’s important they receive the right advice and where possible avoid taking consequential steps, such as providing notice to their employer, or landlord, prior to receiving their visa. This could result in major disruptions and costs if the visa is significantly longer than anticipated and they are unable to work or stuck in expensive accommodation for an extended period.


For more detailed information about the changes and how they might impact your people, connect with our team of fully licensed advisers by contacting Crown World Mobility at [email protected]

This summary was prepared using information obtained from INZ. Information is subject to change without notice.


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