Immigration Updates – March

Immigration / 21 March 2024
Immigration Updates – March

We have summarised key updates from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and other sources that may impact your business and employees, along with reminders for this month.

Plan to change to AEWV Scheme 

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford has indicated that there will be changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy and scheme. This announcement was made around the time the Public Service Commission Review was completed on 27 February 2024 (link to the review). It is difficult to crystal ball gaze what the changes to the AEWV will be, however our understanding is that the system infrastructure will remain relatively the same. There will be initial tweaks to the policy setting. Our best guesses in respect to the initial tweaks are that:

  1. The labor market test will be tightened, possibly requiring employers to advertise/check roles with the Ministry of Social Development/Work and Income.
  2. Specific variation of condition applications e.g. where a worker is only varying the employer condition on their AEWV, may not need to be supported by a Job Check application.
  3.  A new risk and compliance model will be implemented that rewards good/low risk employers.
  4. Application fees will increase.
  5. The government have indicated that they will explore further changes after receiving data and feedback on the initial tweaks. The government also have long term plans including moving away from using the median wage, however these changes are likely to be implemented at a later stage.

Median Wage Increase 

A reminder that the Median Wage had increased to $31.61 per hour from 28 February 2024 for new residence applications. While INZ has frozen the  median wage for AEWV and associated temporary visa applications, employers will need to work with the new median wage rate if there are plans to support a worker for a residence application.

Minimum Wage Increase 

The wage threshold for all Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers will increase to $25.47 per hour from the 1 April 2024. Employers in this sector should be mindful of this change to ensure compliance.

Post-accreditation Check 

As at 1 March 2024, INZ has approved 110,573 AEWV applications. There are currently around 33,143 accredited employers, INZ aims to complete post accreditation checks  on 16% of these accredited employers. INZ will use a system that:  randomly selects accredited employers, targets employers that fall within specific parameters, checks all employers with franchisee/controlling third party accreditation and targets employers with complaints/red flags.

All accredited employers should ensure that they:

  • Complete and comply with their undertakings and declarations made in the application, and
  • Comply with all immigration, employment, and relevant laws when employing migrant workers.

As at 1 March 2024:

  • INZ has undertaken 2,854 post-accreditation checks on 2,318 employers. An additional 428 are underway for 386 employers.
  • MBIE has received 2,235 complaints against accredited employers. This number only indicates an allegation involving an accredited employer has been received, not whether the allegation can be substantiated.
  • There are currently 178 active investigations on accredited employers underway.
  • 165 employers have had their accreditation revoked and 61 have had their accreditation suspended.
  • 46 employers are under assessment to have their accreditation revoked and no employers are currently under assessment to have their accreditation suspended. Revocations and suspensions are due to a range of reasons, and a number are due to liquidation.

Ukraine Resident Visa

A new Ukraine Resident Visa category has opened to allow people with a 2022 Special Ukraine Visa (and their partners and children) to apply for New Zealand resident visas.

List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment

The list of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment has been updated to include qualifications from Australia, Canada, China, Fiji and Japan. Qualifications that are not exempt from assessment will need to be submitted with New Zealand Qualifications Authority International Qualification Assessments (these can take a long time to obtain).

Renewal of accreditation form online

The form that allows employers to apply for re-accreditation is online. Our understanding is that work is still being completed in respect to the requirements for re-accreditation. In our opinion, it is likely that the re-accreditation process will more stringent than the initial accreditation process.

Message for Employers 

It is crucial to ensure your business is compliant with all immigration requirements including new median wage rate, and employer accreditation undertakings and declarations. Feel free to contact our team of employment and immigration specialists for more details on how these changes will impact your business or for assistance in reviewing and updating your workplace policies and documentation. Our team is happy to provide bespoke and practical advice and solutions.

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law, health and safety and immigration topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace. 



Back to News and Publications