Laurent Lore
Corporate Edition
June 2022
The Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme is here. Most of this instalment is devoted to giving an overview of how it works.

We are still in early days, and if you are thinking of getting your business accredited, take your time. First off, it is unlikely that Immigration will be able to quickly process and approve the large number of Accreditation applications they will have received since the scheme opened on 23 May. They don't have enough staff. They have tried to manage multiple changes in policies, structure and workflows all at once, but the cracks are showing.

Secondly, there is actually quite a bit employers need to put in place in order to be compliant. While not all of this has to be on deck at the time you apply, getting accredited means signing up to a rigorous set of criteria of pastoral care of the workforce, training, and transparent recording. If you don't later deliver what is expected, then getting a renewal could be a real challenge.

Simon Laurent
Step 1: Employer Accreditation
Applications can be made online via Immigration NZ’s online portal. Employers will need a RealMe account.

They also need to give the full name, passport number and date of birth of "key people" in the organisation. Key people "influence an organisation's compliance with employment and immigration law", so it could include directors, business owners and/or HR managers, depending on the structure of the business. The employer must agree to get its key people to complete the Employment New Zealand Employer Modules.

There are four types of Employer Accreditation:
  1. Standard – for businesses hiring up to 5 migrants at any one time. The application fee is $740.
  2. High-Volume accreditation – for businesses hiring 6 or more migrants at any one time. The application fee is $1220.
  3. Franchisee – for a business that is part of a franchise. There is no limit on the number of migrants the business can hire. The application fee is $1980.
  4. Controlling Third-Party – for businesses such as labour hire companies which assign someone to a job in another business while remaining the direct employer named in the employment agreement. The application fee is $3870.

Employers need to demonstrate that:

  1. The business is genuinely operating with no losses in the last two years or has had positive cashflow in the last 6 months.
  2. It will provide settlement support services to its migrant staff - for example, information on health services, accommodation options and how to get an IRD number.
  3. It will give migrant staff time off to complete the Employee Modules on the ENZ website.
  4. It is, and has been, compliant with immigration, employment and business standards.

For a lot of this, the employer is asked to confirm things that it will do - such as completing the Employer Modules, or allowing staff to complete the Employee Modules. This implies that, if the employer doesn't do what it has promised - and, more to the point, can't prove it - then it will not get a renewal. The key then is to document everything that is done by way of complying with what Accreditation requires.

Immigration NZ estimates it will take 10 working days to decide Standard and High-Volume applications from employers. There are no figures out yet on its performance, but the estimate is probably highly optimistic at best.
Step 2: the Job Check
This is an assessment of whether the particular roles to be filled by migrants are acceptable jobs.
The employer must be accredited before applying for the Job Check.

Unless the role pays more than twice the median wage (at least $55.52 per hour) or appears on the Green List, the company must have advertised the role to New Zealand citizens or residents. It appears that evidence of 2 weeks of advertising will suffice nowadays to show whether or not local people had applied.
The job offer must be for at least 30 hours per week, pay the market rate for the occupation, and pay more than the New Zealand median wage of $27.76 per hour, unless it is on an exemption list. I have recently blogged on what I think about this wage setting, but it is what we are stuck with right now.

A sample employment agreement needs to be provided, whose terms must comply with employment law. INZ has lately been making a point of picking up all sorts of improper formulations in employment agreements, so it would be a good idea to get your templates reviewed by a professional now.
Employers holding Standard accreditation can support up to 5 job checks. To support more than 5 job checks, an employer must hold High-Volume accreditation.
If the Job Check is approved, an employer will be provided with a “job token”, which is to be given to a migrant worker when they apply for their Work Visa. Each job token is unique – one job token for one Work Visa.
Step 3: Visa Application
The Accreditation and Job Check stages fall squarely upon the employer to complete. The actual Visa Application by a migrant is fairly simple, by contrast.

The applicant must show that they are being offered one of the "job tokens" along with an offer of that job to them. They must also demonstrate that they have the qualifications and/or experience which the employer specified in the Job Check for that position. Those who hold NZ registration for occupations where registration is required (e.g., teaching) are assumed to meet the standard. Then there are criteria such as being a bona fide applicant, good health and good character, which are familiar in visa processing.

The 3 Steps set out above must fall into place in order - first the Accreditation, then approval of the Job Check, and only then the Visa Application.

We will no doubt assist at all stages of the process as we receive instructions. However, we might find that we face a potential conflict of interest in assisting both an employer at Steps 1 and 2, then a migrant at Step 3. Sometimes the circumstances and desires of the two parties do not align. If you wish to discuss this, or other questions arising out of what is set out above, schedule an office visit or a Teams call.