New Zealand tightens work visa rules, effective immediately

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Accredited Employer Work Visa, AEWV, green list, migrant engineers, new zealand, skilled migrants, visa, work to residence,

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The New Zealand Government has announced immediate changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme.

“Immediate changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa (AEWV) scheme will ensure New Zealand is attracting the skills it needs, and reduce the vulnerability of migrants to exploitation,” New Zealand Immigration Minister Erica Stanford announced.

Changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

The suite of changes include:

  • Introducing an English language requirement for migrants applying for low skilled level 4 and 5 roles
  • A minimum skills and work experience threshold for most AEWV roles.
  • For roles that fall into the level 4 and 5, employers will need to engage with Work and Income before approval to bring in migrants will be granted
  • Reducing the maximum continuous stay for most level 4 and 5 roles from 5 years to three years
  • The franchisee accreditation category will be disestablished and these businesses will be to apply to bring in workers from overseas through the standard, high-volume, or triangular employment accreditation

These changes will come into effect on 7 April 2024. 

“Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this Government’s plan to rebuild the economy,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

“The Government is focused on attracting and retaining the highly skilled migrants such as secondary teachers, where there is a skill shortage.  At the same time we need to ensure that New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

In 2023 migration was 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens, a near record.

“I am bringing in a suite of changes that will improve the AEWV scheme and ensure we are better testing the local labour market and reducing the risks of putting New Zealanders out of work. Many of these are not new, but rather a return to pre-pandemic settings that better balanced the needs of business with the wider interests of New Zealand,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

“It is important that the AEWV settings facilitate the right mix of skilled temporary migrants to address genuine skill and labour shortages, support rebuilding the economy, and to help manage numbers and pressures on core infrastructure, such as schools, housing, and the health system.”

“These steps improve the scheme’s integrity and will help to prevent migrant exploitation, following recommendations from the recent Bestwick review, which found serious issues with the AEWV processes,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

“By having an English language requirement migrants will be better able to understand their rights or raise concerns about an employer early.”

If you are applying for an AEWV you will need to show evidence of your work experience or qualifications. This is in addition to the skills and qualifications that your employer has identified as necessary for the job and your employer will need to check you meet the skill requirements before they offer you the job.

The Government is also not progressing plans to add 11 roles to the Green List such as welders and fitters and turners.

“The Work to Residence pathway for bus and truck drivers is also closing to new applicants, as the shortages of drivers reported when this was established have been filled,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

“These changes are the start of a more comprehensive work programme to create a smarter immigration system that manages net migration, responds to our changing economic context, attracts top talent, revitalises international education, is self-funding and sustainable, and better manages risk,” says New Zealand Minister of Immigration Eric Stanford.

These are substantial changes, including introducing an English requirement for some work visas which New Zealand has never had before.

If you applied for your first AEWV before 21 June 2023 and are in an ANZSCO level 4 and 5 job paying at or above the required AEWV wage rate, and currently hold a three year AEWV, you will no longer be able to access the maximum time of five years.

If you are in an ANZSCO level 4 and 5 job on a pathway to residence, you will not be affected by these changes.

If you apply for a further AEWV on or after 7 April 2024, you will have to meet the updated criteria. If you are in an ANZSCO level 4 and 5 job you may not be able to stay and work in New Zealand for the maximum time of five years.

Click here to read more about the changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Source: Crown copyright

Source: Crown Copyright 2024

New tools strengthen immigration law enforcement

Starting 11 April 2024 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will be able to issue infringement notices to employers with the aim of addressing lower-level immigration non-compliance and deter those who take advantage of migrant workers.

Infringement penalties can include: a minimum fine of $1,000, loss of accredited employer or Recognised Seasonal Employer status, and being banned (stood-down) from supporting further visas for migrant workers for a period of time depending on the number of infringement notices the employer receives. More serious breaches may result in criminal charges.

Being stood-down means employers cannot get their accreditation back or support visa applications during the stand-down period. Stand-down periods include: 6-month stand-down for a single infringement notice, an extra 6-month stand-down for each subsequent infringement notice and a 12-month maximum stand-down for multiple notices issued at one time.

Employers can hire migrants on open work visas while on the stand-down list. When the stand-down ends the employer must show they have rectified the matter and done what is needed to stop it happening again before they can get accredited again under the AEWV.

Meeting your AEWV accredited employer obligations

Stephanie Greathead, National Manager Immigration Compliance says the majority of employers do the right thing and the employment situation works well for both employer and the migrant worker. However, Immigration sees a small number of employers who aren’t following the rules.

“In the past the only real significant deterrent option available to Immigration was prosecuting employers through the criminal court system, while that is still something we will continue to do, being able to issue employers with infringement penalties allows us to take immediate action against employers who aren’t complying,” says National Manager Immigration Compliance Stephanie Greathead.

“We will be publishing a stand down list on the Immigration website naming those employers who have been penalised and stood down, this adds a layer of transparency,” says National Manager Immigration Compliance Stephanie Greathead.

Infringements can be issued for employing people in breach of their visa conditions, employing a person unlawfully in New Zealand, or failing to comply with a 10-day information request.

“Non-compliance with these 3 requirements now has immediate consequences. The new tools make it easier to stop employers who have committed immigration offences from accessing migrant workers in the future. It also ensures we have strong systems in place to enforce employment and immigration standards, which will help create a fair and level playing field for all employers in New Zealand,” says National Manager Immigration Compliance Stephanie Greathead.

Source: Crown copyright 2024

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