As of 31 May 2023, 63,078 Accredited Employer work visas (AEWV) had been approved by Immigration New Zealand.
On the AEWV, workers can work for up to 3 years if paid at or above the current median wage of $29.66 NZD. The visa is also issued with conditions to tie the worker to a particular employer, allow the worker to study for up to 3 months in any 12-month period (or do any study required as part of their employment) and be employed for at least 30 hours a week.
Figures released by Stats NZ in June have shown a considerable increase in recent migrant worker arrivals. Over 70,000 individuals are currently in New Zealand on some type of work visa. Most sectors facing labour shortages have readily absorbed the arriving workers to supplement their workforce.
The AEWV is changing. From 27 November 2023, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will be:
- Introducing a ‘maximum continuous stay’ for everyone who has an AEWV;
- Increasing the length of the AEWV for workers earning at least the median wage from 3 years to 5 years; and
- Increasing the length of the AEWV for people in the care workforce sector who are paid at least the level 3 payrate, from 2 years to 3 years.
The maximum continuous stay is the total time an AEWV holder can remain in New Zealand before they must spend time outside New Zealand in order to be eligible for another AEWV.
AEWV length, maximum continuous stay and time outside New Zealand effective from 27 November 2023 are as follows:
If a worker has an existing AEWV approved before 27 November 2023, they can apply for another AEWV to receive their visa balance of 5 years. Time spent on other types of temporary visas will not count towards the five-year maximum continuous stay.
The changes are proposed to benefit migrant workers who are on a clear pathway to residency. If a worker can demonstrate that they are on a residence pathway but need more time to complete, for example, their skilled work experience, they will be able to apply for another AEWV without spending 12 months out of New Zealand. Further information on this will be released in the future.
While the changes don’t come in until the end of November, this is a good time to assess your plans to secure your future in New Zealand. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have moved your entire life and lived here for five years only to be told you could breach your ‘maximum continuous stay’ period.
Our Immigration Special Counsel, Hetish Lochan is contactable at email@example.com or 03 441 2976 for a confidential discussion of your options.