The immigration process has undergone multiple changes over the last three years. The most significant employers, is the introduction of the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme in July 2022. This scheme has streamlined the visa process for employers and applicants but also comes with some ongoing compliance challenges as well.
Alongside the AEWV, changes to partner work rights were introduced in May 2023. Moreover, the Government aims to extend the Accreditation scheme to all employers by 2024. These developments make becoming Accredited with Immigration New Zealand essential for every employer’s recruitment strategy.
What employers need to look out for.
As the AEWV scheme passes its first-year anniversary, and with changes to other related Residence and temporary Visa policies, there are some key things that employers need to be looking out for or be aware of:
- From May 2023, most partners who hold ‘Open Work Visas’, will be required to only work for an Accredited Employer, earning at least the median wage (previously they could work for anyone at any salary).
- INZ and MBIE are now rolling out random audits for Accredited Employers to ensure they are meeting their compliance and settlement obligations.
- As the labour market continues to adjust to economic conditions, the emphasis on advertising as part of the Job Check and Visa process will become much tighter, with far greater scrutiny being applied by immigration officers – what might have worked before, may not work now.
- Recent changes to the Skilled Migrant Category mean that many applicants will be limited to five years on a Work Visa unless they have a clear pathway to Residence.
The biggest challenge to employers is ensuring that they maintain their obligations under the Accreditation scheme. This includes:
- Only hiring those with the right to work
- Having a robust compliance process
- Providing the right settlement advice to applicants
- Triple checking work rights for new hires.
These obligations will become more important as INZ and MBIE work through their ongoing audit process. The AEWV was rolled out quickly with a “light-touch” approach for employers. However as the scheme matures, INZ will check to ensure that employers are following through with their commitments.
How to maximize opportunities as an Accredited Employer.
Fortunately, there is plenty of help available to manage this process and having specialist advice on hand to check work rights, or to manage the compliance requirements is only an email or phone call away.
Employers who stay Accredited gain an advantage by accessing a larger talent pool. They can also engage applicants on an Open Work Visa, who must work for an Accredited employer in New Zealand.
If you are not yet Accredited, you could be missing out on these potential hires. While the labour market continues to be tight, it’s a vital HR tool to have available.
There could also be significant opportunities in offering your migrant employees a review of their chances to apply for Residence, to ensure that you can retain those skills into the future.
The immigration landscape will continue to change, particularly as we approach the election, however smart employers will stay ahead of those changes, to ensure they retain their advantage in what continues to be a very competitive talent market.
Paul 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.