Accredited Employer Work Visa – the new visa and what you need to know

Melissa Johnston Melissa Johnston, Employment Partner, and Ramya Sathiyanathan, Special Counsel Immigration of McVeagh Fleming share their insights regarding the significant changes to the immigration sector in New Zealand. Ramya Sathiyanathan


Significant changes have arrived to the immigration sector in New Zealand, which will have major repercussions on employers who are intending to hire migrants to work in New Zealand. The Accredited Employer Work Visa (“AEWV”) is a new temporary work visa introduced on 4 July 2022. This new visa is one step in the Government’s five step plan for reconnecting New Zealand to the world after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The AEWV is intended to replace six current work visas. Visas being replaced include:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa;
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa;
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa;
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa;
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa; and
  • Approval in principle for employers to recruit overseas workers.

The new AEWV will result in much higher compliance for employers, is more expensive and has a whole new application process. The new process shifts the majority of the burden in obtaining the visa onto the employer. This will likely be a major adjustment for many employers. We have outlined the new process and notable changes below.

First Step – Accreditation

There are four categories of accreditation for employers. These are standard accreditation, high volume accreditation, franchisee and triangular employment arrangements depending on the employers business model and number of migrants they want to employ. Employers have been able to apply for accreditation since 23 May 2022. Once granted, a company’s accreditation will be valid for one year.

Standard accreditation is for those who intend to hire five or less migrants per year on the AEWV, while high volume accreditation is for those who intend to hire more than five. Employers will have the option to upgrade their accreditation status during their accreditation period. This can be done at any stage during the period for a fee. Employers who are franchisees or are hiring as part of a triangular employment relationship will not be limited on the number of AEWV holders they can employ at any one time but will still be subject to additional accreditation requirements.

During their assessment of the company applying for accreditation, amongst other things, Immigration New Zealand will look at the financials of the business as well as its compliance with employment and immigration laws in the past.

Employers will also have ongoing obligations once accredited, including completing online modules, providing settlement support documentation to staff and maintaining appropriate documentation.

Second Step – Job Check

This is the second step in the process and will see Immigration New Zealand conduct a number of checks on the particular role the employer is hiring for. These checks look into the genuineness of the role, the remuneration offered for the role and the recruitment efforts conducted by the employer.

The labour market test will be scrutinised and must be conducted in line with policy requirements. All employers will be required to advertise the role unless the employer is paying two times the median wage or if the role is listed on the Government’s newly introduced “Green List” which include occupations from the construction, engineering, trades, health, and ICT sectors.

A key requirement under this policy is the median wage. The median wage will increase from $27.00 per hour to $27.76 once this policy comes into effect. This means that employers who are wanting to hire migrants on a rate less than the median wage threshold will have to consider hiring migrants under alternative visas. There are exceptions to this rule for some hospitality and tourism roles based on sector agreements.

It is important to note that a job check will only be valid for six months and recruitment efforts must be less than 90 days old at the time the job check application is submitted. This will require employers, hiring managers and/or human resource professionals to pay close attention to their needs to ensure they are not caught out without staff at any particular time.

Third Step – Migrant Check

Finally, once the first two steps are complete, an employer can invite a migrant worker to apply for a AEWV for the specific role. This will require the applicant to submit documents relating to their work experience, qualifications, health and character.

If their visa application is subsequently approved, they may begin working for the specified employer.

An applicant may be granted an AEWV valid up to 3 years.

In order to prepare for these changes, employers who have migrants working for them and those who intend to recruit candidates from offshore should seek to get advice and prepare their business for the upcoming changes.

Melissa has worked for both employers and employees on a range of employment issues including contentious and non-contentious matters.  She advises employers on significant restructures, redundancies, personal grievances, mediations, employment documentation, employee entitlements and undertake and advise on employment investigations and advises employees on matters including: disciplinary and performance issues; redundancies; personal grievances and employment documentation. 
Melissa studied at Victoria University in Wellington.  Starting work in Wellington, she worked on a range of matters including family, criminal and employment matters. She then spent nine years in London working as a Senior Associate in a leading law firm and returned to New Zealand in 2014 and worked for a global law firm before joining McVeagh Fleming in 2020.
Melissa’s main practice areas are employment matters including: restructures; redundancies; personal grievances; employment investigations including allegations of bullying and harassment; employment agreements and other documentation; holiday pay and bonuses; representing clients at mediations and the Employment Relations’ Authority. Connect with Melissa via LinkedIn.

Ramya studied at the University of Auckland and began her legal career with a sole barrister working on civil litigation matters. She subsequently moved to a boutique immigration law firm where she practiced for over 5 years before joining McVeagh Fleming in 2019.
Ramya specializes in immigration matters including: employer accreditation, residence and temporary visa applications, deportation and residence appeals as well as ministerial special direction requests. Connect with Ramya via LinkedIn.