Employer Accreditation Renewal – Bumpy Road or Smooth Sailing?

Immigration Visas for NZ business

When the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme was rolled out in 2022, the uptake was significant with many businesses getting on board quickly to address (at the time) critical labour shortages. The Government was also quick to offer a free extension to most employers for 12 months, knowing it lacked the resources to process tens of thousands of renewals in that first year.

Nearly two years on, and no free renewals on offer, many employers will be needing to renew their Accreditation for future hires; however, the AEWV landscape has changed significantly over that period, with significant updates released early this month. For any employers looking ahead to renew, we have a few key tips on what to do and what to expect.

Time to renew?

The latter part of 2023 and the early part of 2024 were pretty grim for the AEWV scheme, with the Government releasing a report that revealed INZ effectively dropped the ball in terms of quality control for both the employer accreditation scheme and the Work Visas that were produced as a consequence.

With the spotlight firmly on INZ, and the focus being on lifting the bar to eradicate instances of migrant exploitation, employers are in for a very different process come renewal time.

The good news is that if you have done the right thing, maintained the right records and generally followed the rules, you should expect your renewal to be approved, but the process will be a bit different as compared to the original application.

  • Timeframes for renewals are extending and will extend further as more employers approach their renewal deadline and the system backs up. Our advice is to get in early (two months or more).
  • Make sure you have your records in order, your HR policies and processes updated. Be prepared for some additional questions from INZ in terms of your employment activity. You should also make sure you have vetted applicants correctly (interviews, checking documents etc.) and have records available should INZ ask.
  • Case officers, processing renewals, are digging much deeper and checking all the information provided. If any of your ‘key people’ have changed, make sure this information is updated in the renewal application.
  • Check that your existing staff are all on the right visa and those visas are all valid. For larger organisations this is something you should be doing on a monthly basis, keeping a formal list of all Work Visa holders and expiry dates (and checking it twice).

For many employers, their initial experience with the AEWV system will have created a false sense of security because for the most part INZ never asked questions and essentially didn’t look at any of the information provided in any detail.

In the current processing environment, more questions are being asked and so employers and applicants need to be armed and ready to answer them.

Accreditation issues?

Of course, not all employers will have kept up with their compliance obligations but will still be very keen to secure their renewal. In cases like this, it pays to know where the pitfalls might be before you spend the time and money on an application that might not work.

If you are heading towards a renewal but think you might have come unstuck somewhere along the way, get some advice first. A little bit of time and money spent on identifying any areas of weakness will make for a much easier process.

Remember when it comes to immigration, there is no such thing as a “straightforward” process. In the current climate, with all eyes on INZ to lift their game, it pays to make sure your application is as strong as it can be.

Note: Further details on the AEWV changes announced on Sunday, 07 April are available here.

About the Author

Paul JenssenPaul Janssen is the Manager of Turner Hopkins Services, a specialist New Zealand immigration consultancy, based in Takapuna, Auckland. Paul is fully licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority and has nearly twenty years of industry experience, assisting families, individuals, and businesses to navigate the complexities of the visa system.

Paul and his team work together with their clients, providing realistic and practical advice in a timely and easy to understand manner. Identifying issues at the outset, mapping out the steps involved and managing all aspects of the relocation process.


Additional articles from Paul
Immigration Update – Expect More Changes from INZ
The Immigrant Visa Process 2024: Six Tips to Stay Ahead

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