Jun 23 2021

New Accredited Employer Work Visa Process to be Introduced

New Zealand

At a Glance

  • Effective November 1, 2021, New Zealand will be introducing a new Accredited Employer Work Visa process to replace certain existing temporary work visa processes (not including the Specific Purpose Work Visa).
  • Employers will benefit from a simplified visa application process and the streamlining of labour market tests, which will likely result in simpler requirements and faster processing times. Immigration New Zealand is expected to release further details ahead of the launch in November.
  • The change is in line with the New Zealand government’s aim to decrease reliance on lower-paid temporary workers, increase productivity, address infrastructure challenges and ultimately increase the skill levels of foreign nationals migrating to New Zealand.

The situation

Effective November 1, 2021, New Zealand will introduce a new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) process to replace the following existing temporary work visa processes (not including the Specific Purpose Work Visa):

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa;
  • Essential Skills Work Visa;
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – Approved in Principle;
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Work Visa;
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa; and
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

A closer look

  • Three-step process. Employers seeking to apply for the new AEWV will need to undergo three steps: Employer Accreditation; labour market testing and submitting the visa application.
  • Duration and scope of accreditation. Employers will be granted an initial Employer Accreditation of up to one year with subsequent renewals of up to 24 months, which may either be a Standard Accreditation (sponsorship of up to five foreign nationals) or a High-Volume Accreditation (sponsorship for six foreign nationals or more).
  • New Employer Accreditation required. Under the new visa, employers will be able to apply for Employer Accreditation around September 2021 (the government has not yet confirmed the exact deadline). Although current accredited employers may continue to apply for visas under the current rules (valid up until October 31, 2021), all accredited employers must submit new Employer Accreditation applications under the new program if they seek to apply for the new AEWV by November 1, 2021.
  • Work visa validity. Foreign nationals who will be paid at or above the median wage will still be granted a visa validity of up to three years, while those paid below the median wage will be granted a visa validity of up to 12 months (up from only six months previously) under the new AEWV with extensions available. Current work visas will remain valid until their expiry date if all employment conditions are met.

Impact

  • Simplified and streamlined process. Employers will benefit from a simplified visa application process and the streamlining of labour market tests, which will likely result in simpler requirements and faster processing times. Immigration New Zealand is expected to release further details ahead of the launch in November.
  • Pathway to permanent residence. Like current work visas, foreign nationals who continue to work under the employer sponsoring the AEWV (the exact amount of time is to be confirmed by the government) may be granted eligibility to apply to live in New Zealand permanently. More details are expected to be released on this in the near future.

Background

  • Increasing skill levels of foreign migrants. The new visa is in line with the government’s aim to decrease reliance on lower-paid temporary workers, increase productivity, address infrastructure challenges and ultimately increase the skill levels of foreign nationals migrating to New Zealand.
  • Simplified process. With this new visa, the government is seeking to support businesses and regions in New Zealand in filling skills shortages by simplifying the visa application process and streamlining labour market tests for higher-paid roles.
  • Long-awaited implementation. Changes to the current process has been contemplated by the New Zealand government as early as 2019 and the implementation of which has been delayed from its earlier expected implementation date of early 2021.

Looking ahead

It is likely that the New Zealand government will introduce streamlining measures to the work visa application process (such as moving the application process online) but may also introduce stricter requirements for foreign nationals (such as higher educational or experience requirements and stricter labor market testing for work visa applicants ) in order to support companies and address skills shortages.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].