The details of the new employer accreditation scheme have been released by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
The new framework requires employers to hold Employer Accreditation status before they can support a migrant on the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). The Essential Skills category will close on 3 July 2022 with applications for the AEWV opening the next day on Monday 4 July 2022.
While at first glance the new policy appears to be a significant and almost a complete overhaul of the work visa system although there are similarities to note with the different visa categories being replaced.
Important details of the new scheme
From our preliminary review, we consider the following details are most relevant:
- Employers can apply for accreditation from 23 May 2022.
- There are two levels of accreditation depending on how many migrants you want to employ at any one time, standard (up to 5 migrants) and High-Volume (6 or more). This quota does not affect migrants who hold other types of work visas.
- At this point in time, there is no difference between standard and high-volume accreditation. Employers can also pay a fee to upgrade.
- Franchisees and job placement companies (including labour hire/triangular arrangements) must meet additional requirements due to increased risk to the migrant worker.
All employers must meet minimum accreditation criteria which includes, but is not limited to:
- Hold a NZBN.
- Be a viable and genuinely operating business.
- Be registered with IRD as an employer.
- Your business must meet financial viability criteria such either;
- be profitable over the past 24 months;
- have a positive cashflow for each of the last 6 months;
- have sufficient capital or external investment/funding; or
- have a plan to ensure the business remains viable.
- Businesses less than 12 months old must provide evidence of viability at the time of application. For others, evidence may be required during processing or during the accreditation period.
- Partners or sole traders must not be bankrupt or subject to a no asset procedure.
- Sole traders, partners and at least one trustee (where a trust is an employer) must have NZ as their primary place of established residence.
- The employer and key employees must not be facing a standdown period or permanent ban from hiring migrant workers. This is usually imposed if an employer has breached a minimum standard in the past or convicted of certain offences. Key employee means any person who can influence an organisation’s compliance with employment and immigration law.
- A business with compliance failures cannot resurrect under a new name as the issues will follow through to the new entity.
- Recruitment personnel must complete Employment New Zealand’s modules on employment rights. Conversely, migrant employees must be allowed to do the same during paid hours within one month of starting employment.
- Employers must pay all recruitment costs in and outside NZ.
- Employers must provide settlement support and health and safety information to their migrant workers. Actual evidence of the employer doing this could be requested by INZ.
The processing timeframe for an accreditation application is indicated to be 10 working days.
The duration of employer accreditation is noted as follows:
- First time – 12 months.
- Renewals – franchisees and job placement companies – 12 months.
- Renewals for all others – 24 months.
Once accredited, the employer must apply for a job check for each vacancy they wish to offer to a migrant. For this stage of the process, the following is relevant:
- You can apply for a job check from 20 June 2022.
- All roles must pay at least the market rate and have terms which comply with NZ employment (and immigration) law.
- Jobs to migrants under this scheme cannot pay below the median wage (the Government is considering exceptions to this).
- Jobs must be advertised to attract suitable New Zealanders, except jobs paying 200% of the median wage. Advertising must be:
- for a minimum of 2 weeks; and
- on a national job listing website, or another advertising channel likely to attract suitable New Zealanders.
- Multiple roles can be included in one job check if the job details are the same and are covered by the same advertising and proposed employment agreement.
- The job check fee is currently set at NZD610. Reconsideration of a declined job check is set at NZD240.
- A job check is valid for 6 months or until an employer no longer holds accreditation, whichever is earlier.
- The processing time for a job check is indicated to be 10 working days.
Once a job check is approved, the migrant worker can apply for an AEWV. For this stage of the process, the following is relevant:
- Applications for an AEWV open on 4 July 2022.
- The employee must hold a valid job offer from an accredited employer who has passed the job check.
- The employee must demonstrate satisfactory health, character and (in most cases) suitability for the job requirements.
- A processing fee must be paid to INZ.
- Processing time is indicated to be 20 working days.
Our advice to employers
This is a new process and there is a lot of new information for employers to consider, we suggest it is important to consider the following:
- Consider renewing as many visas as possible under the essential skills work visa category until it closes on 3 July.
- Remember that for employees applying to remain in their existing employment, there is currently a streamlined process in place.
- Prepare your business for the new scheme.
- Ensure business affairs are in order including financial, HR, health and safety and other aspects.
- Keep an eye on the timeframes. It is expected to take at least 2 months for the process to be completed. Started preparing now so you don’t get caught short.
Remember that we are here to help and if you get stuck, are unsure of any aspect, or simply want an expert to handle the entire process, we are just a phone call or email away. TODD & WALKER Law’s Immigration law specialist Hetish Lochan is available to assist and can be contacted on [email protected] or 021 075 8147.