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Immigration June 2021

If you’re planning on recruiting new employees from offshore, it’s important to understand what you need to do leading up to, as well as after the upcoming changes to Immigration for New Zealand. In this article we provide an overview of the changes and what to expect, if you would like to have a more detailed discussion with one of our fully licensed advisors, please contact us on: 0800 243 578, or (+64) 9 415 7300, alternatively email: [email protected] or complete a contact form.

What’s changing?

The New Zealand Government is introducing a new temporary work visa called the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) on November 1, 2021. This will replace six of the existing temporary work visa categories, these being:

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

Alongside this change, a new employer-led system will be introduced that will simplify the application process, and make it easier for businesses and regions to fill genuine skills shortages when there is no New Zealander available to do the job, or who can be trained for the role.

The new three-check system will help combat migrant exploitation by strengthening requirements on employers. These changes are also important for encouraging employers to focus on ways to train and upskill New Zealanders. The system will:

  • Reduce New Zealand’s reliance on lower-paid temporary workers.
  • Better address our productivity, skills and infrastructure challenges.
  • Increase the skill levels of migrants.

There are two levels of accreditation which will be available:

Accreditation will be valid for 12 months initially, then renewals for two years. In addition, the median salary as classified by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is increasing from $25.50 per hour, to $27.00 per hour, from mid July. INZ have indicated that there will be a pathway to residence after two years on the new AEWV, provided that the visa holder earns twice the median salary. At the hourly rate of $27.00 being introduced in mid-July, this would equate to $112,320.

Note: Accreditation is not required for employers to hire those on working holiday, partner work, specific purpose or post-study work visas.

What are the dates I need to be aware of?

Businesses employing migrants who hold a current Talent or Essential Skills Visa don’t need to become accredited until they want to hire someone on the new visa. But it’s important to consider any existing employee’s who may need new visas, and ensure the necessary provisions are in place to support a seamless transition. It’s also important to consider any new employee’s who may be arriving on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, as they will need to apply for post arrival visas (delays will have implications around ability to access healthcare & funded education).

The following employer policies are closing to new and renewal applications on the 30th 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.

If employers want to apply for accreditation or approval in principle which they can use up to the 1st November, 2021, they should apply by the 30th June, 2021 and consider the processing timeframes available on the INZ website. Companies who hold an existing and valid accreditation with Immigration NZ can utilise this to support new applications up until the 1st November, 2021.

Employers who wish to hire migrant workers will need to re-apply for accreditation under the new categories, even if an existing accreditation is still valid past the 1st November, it will become null & void on this date and can no longer be used to support applications.

Employers that only want to hire migrants using the new AEWV can apply for accreditation from mid to late September, bearing in mind the expected processing times stated above. Applications for the AEWV will open on the 1st November, 2021.

What does this mean for my company?

For companies who haven’t recruited from offshore previously, the requirement for mandatory accreditation may increase the overall administration and timeframe to obtain a visa for new employees. For those businesses who are currently accredited and utilise the accredited employer category to hire employees whose salaries are beneath the proposed new thresholds, they will need to consider contingencies / implications for new team members when it comes to eligibility for Residence, along with renewals. They may also be required to provide additional evidence, such as advertising for certain roles.

For current employees who hold work visas related to existing accreditation, they will remain in place until such time as Residence is issued or they expire. There has still not been a decision around what will happen should renewal be required prior to the receipt of Residence.

For any employees who hold mid skilled work visas it should be considered whether they will still meet the threshold on renewal of their visa. If they no longer meet the increased threshold, then it’s important for all parties to be aware that visas for those who do not meet the median wage requirement are only issued for 12 months and are restricted to a maximum of three 12 month visas. After three consecutive renewals, there is then a one year stand-down period during which they must reside outside NZ. This compares with their previous expectation of a mid-skill visa, which is typically issued for three years and is renewable.

It’s important to be prepared, make sure your employees are supported, and your business remains compliant. For more detailed information please connect with our Crown World Mobility team of fully licensed advisers at [email protected] or complete a contact form.

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

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