New Zealand

New employee work visa scheme given green light

Policy win-win for employers and overseas workers

Welcome news for New Zealand’s staff-short accommodation and hospitality sector with the government actioning the third and final stage of the new simplified Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy.

As part of the policy, employers need to be accredited and have completed a job check before they are able to hire a migrant from offshore.

Accreditation applications opened on 23 May and to date 5,666 applications have been received. Of those 4,322 have been approved.

Job check applications opened on 20 June and to date 732 have been received. An employer must have their job check approved before a migrant is able to apply for the role.

Announcing the news, Minister of Immigration, Michael Wood said the government was aware of the current constraints business has with access to skilled labour.

“The Accredited Employer Work Visa will play a role in increasing the available pool of labour to fill skilled work shortages,” the Minister said.

“The opening of this visa follows on our previous work which has seen approvals granted for over 33,000 critical workers, 13,000 working holidaymakers, and 60,000 migrants approved for residency through the one-off 2021 Resident Visa.   

“The AEWV is at the heart of the government’s Immigration Rebalance and is focussed on providing New Zealand with the skills we need, while ensuring that migrants are fairly treated.

“We believe that the previous system in some cases facilitated a low cost labour model that was neither good for our country or migrant workers.

“As such the AEWV is centred around a requirement to pay at the median wage, with limited exemptions for sectors who are transitioning.

“We look forward to working with key sectors to lift pay and conditions so that it is easier to attract New Zealand workers, and for smoother pathways to attract migrant workers on the basis of skill and need, not low-cost labour.”

The job check is a very important part of the new AEWV process to hire a migrant from overseas and it is critical that employers provide all the necessary information to demonstrate they have met the requirements of the job check.

This includes evidence of an acceptable job offer, job description and employment agreement, and proof that the role has been advertised for at least two weeks if it pays less than twice the median wage or is not on the Green List.

Working visa applications are expected to be processed within 20 working days when the application is accurately filed.

Partners and dependents of work visa applicants are also able to apply for visas from today. 

“Reconnecting New Zealand is not just about growing businesses and our economy, but also about reconnecting families who haven’t been able to apply for a visa from offshore while border restrictions have been in place,” Minister Wood said.

“Opening visa applications for partners and dependents of workers who are applying for work visas will make it easier for migrant workers to bring their families with them to New Zealand, making us an attractive place to live and work.”

New Zealand’s borders will be fully open to the world at the end of the month, with student and visitor visa applications opening from 31 July.

Immigration New Zealand has also been gearing up by recruiting and training more staff to meet the expected demand, bringing on-board 230 Immigration Officers in the year to May 31.

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