Laurent Lore
Corporate Edition
August 2023
Last month the firm launched its new website - still full of good content, but easier to get around and sporting an updated logo.

Of course we are excited about it, but you will be more interested in what is useful to you. Go ahead and have a look around. The website address is still

We have also published profile posts about each of the team, answering questions about themselves and why they do what they do. See the Q&A with

Below, we will share insights into the new set of Skilled Residence options for staff who are on Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs); a change to AEWVs themselves; and a rising tide of migrant worker exploitation.

Simon Laurent
Skilled Migrant Residence is Coming Back
The new Skilled Migrant Residence category opens on 9 October 2023. Candidates secure residence by holding an acceptable job offer in New Zealand and accumulating 6 points in one of the following ways:

  • NZ Registration in a specified occupation requiring at least 6 years' training, or a PhD, or securing a job offer paying three times the median wage; OR
  • NZ Registration requiring 5 years’ training, or a Master's degree, PLUS 1 year of skilled work experience in NZ on any Work Visa; OR
  • NZ Registration requiring 4 years' training, or an Honours degree, or a job offer paying twice the median wage, PLUS 2 points for 2 years of skilled work in New Zealand on any Work Visa; OR
  • NZ Registration requiring at least 2 years' training, or a Bachelor's degree/Postgraduate Certificate, or a job offer in New Zealand that pays 1.5 times the median wage, PLUS 3 points for 3 years of skilled work in NZ on any Work Visa.

This stands alongside the other pathways to Skilled Residence - Straight to Residence and the three types of Work to Residence - described briefly on our website. For more detail and analysis, contact us if you believe your staff may qualify.
Time Limit on AEWVs
From 27 November 2023, Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWVs) will have a maximum duration and a maximum continuous stay for visa holders.

  • For jobs paying at or above the median wage, these will both be 5 years. After that, a Work Visa holder must spend at least 12 months outside New Zealand before they become eligible for a new AEWV.
  • For jobs paying below the median wage, the maximum visa length and maximum continuous stay will depend on the sector that the role is in. For example, for transport sector roles paid below the median wage, the maximum visa length is 3 years and the maximum continuous stay is 5 years. Other sectors have different settings, including the care workforce, meat processing and tourism/hospitality.

Employees on existing AEWVs on 26 November 2023 should be able to apply quite easily to extend their visa up to the allowed maximum duration when these changes come in. They can use the same Job Token to do so if they are still in the same job.

Think now about how long you can lawfully employ migrant workers. The new rules may create headaches for employers who are trying to ensure the continuity of important staff. It will also be important to identify if pathways to Residence exist, even at the time of hiring, because this could be a key bargaining chip for attracting talent from overseas.
What to do about migrant worker exploitation
A lot of stories are circulating in the media about migrant workers being stranded here with no job and living in appalling conditions.

The common conclusion is that unscrupulous employers are to blame. That may not necessarily be the case, because both migrants and their offshore recruitment agents have in the past been known to act fraudulently, and some agents have no doubt been working the system to rip off candidates.

Still, NZ employers can fall into the trap of acting illegally without first appreciating the consequences. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • An agent offering to pay you a commission for your AEWV Job Tokens to be used for someone's visa application. They probably got this money from the worker, and you could be prosecuted for (indirectly) charging a premium on employment, an offence under the Wages Protection Act 1983.
  • An agent or immigration adviser offering you a candidate sight unseen whom they claim has the skills you need. Ask to see the evidence that the person has the qualifications or experience. Keep a record of everything. Companies have been sent workers who can't do the job, and have to let them go. That raises the risk of a Labour Inspectorate or Immigration investigation for exploitative practices.
  • If a worker from another business comes to you because they have been fired, do not take them on until they have first got a Variation of Conditions of their Work Visa which names your company as the employer. Otherwise, you can be charged with employing someone in breach of their existing visa conditions, which carries a maximum $50,000 fine.

With the growing hysteria around the plight of migrant workers, hiring them is becoming somewhat fraught. We have been asked to represent companies facing investigation, and it is clearly a highly uncomfortable experience.