In a significant move, New Zealand has unveiled a series of transformative changes to its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) category, aimed at enhancing the rights of migrants and simplifying the visa application procedure.
These changes, set to take effect soon, will impact both accredited employers and foreign job seekers looking to work in the country. The reforms are designed to promote fairness in the recruitment process and discourage the misuse of employment agreements.
What is an Accredited Employer Work Visa?
The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is a New Zealand work visa that allows accredited employers to hire skilled migrant workers to fill genuine skill or labour shortages.
To be eligible for an AEWV, employers must be accredited by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). Once accredited, employers can apply for job checks for specific roles. If a job check is successful, the employer can then offer the role to a migrant worker, who can then apply for an AEWV.
Accredited Employer Work Visa Key Changes
1. 90-Day Trial Periods Removed
Starting from October 29, 2023, accredited employers will no longer be allowed to use trial periods in employment agreements when hiring individuals on an AEWV. This change is intended to encourage employers to hire migrants for genuine labour needs or skills gaps and to promote fairness in the recruitment process.
2. AEWV Job Check Amendments
From October 29, 2023, AEWV Job Check applications containing trial periods will be declined, excluding previously approved applications or those in progress.
3. AEWV Employer Accreditation Updates
Effective October 29, 2023, accreditation may be suspended for non-compliance with immigration, employment, and business standards. Employers can’t transfer certain costs to visa applicants or holders.
This includes verification and compliance activities, not just formal investigations. Employers are also prohibited from passing on certain costs to visa applicants and those who already hold a visa.
4. AEWV Labor Hire Threshold Adjusted
Starting November 27, 2023, accredited employers who are labour hire (triangular) employment firms placing migrants in specific construction occupations must ensure that at least 35% of their labour-hire workforce consists of New Zealand citizens and residents in full-time employment.
This represents an increase from the previous requirement of 15%. The new threshold is intended to address concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers in the construction sector.
5. Extended AEWV Processing Times
NZ has adjusted its AEWV assessment approach to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of job vacancies and the employer’s capacity to support the intended migrant hires. As a result, processing times have increased, with most applications taking longer than 10 days to process.
Impact of the Reforms
The AEWV reforms are expected to have a positive impact on migrant workers in New Zealand. By removing trial periods and increasing the labour-hire employment threshold, the reforms will help to reduce the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. The technical updates to employer accreditation will also help to ensure that employers are meeting their obligations under the AEWV program.
Migrant workers who are considering applying for an AEWV should be aware of the new requirements and increased processing times. They should also ensure that they are working for an accredited employer who has a good reputation.
The New Zealand AEWV reforms are a welcome step towards ensuring fair treatment of migrant workers. By addressing some of the key concerns raised by migrant workers and advocates, the reforms will help to create a more equitable and just labour market for all.