Immigration Updates – November
General, Immigration, Employment Law / 23 November 2023
Immigration New Zealand post accreditation checks
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has shared that as of 3 November 2023, INZ has completed 1431 post accreditation checks. INZ raised concerns or significant concerns in respect to approximately 208 (14.5%) of the employers that were checked. As of 6 November 2023, 94 employer accreditations have been revoked and 21 employer accreditations have been suspended.
INZ expect to complete post accreditation checks in relation to 15% of employers with accreditation status by the end of December 2023.
Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Act 2023 takes effect on 6 January 2024
The Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill (Act) is scheduled to come into force from 6 January 2024. This Act will allow MBIE/INZ to raise a new strict liability infringement offence where a migrant worker is employed in a manner that is inconsistent with the conditions on their work visa or where a migrant worker is employed when they do not hold an appropriate visa. The finer details of how MBIE will operationalise the Act has not been released yet, however it is likely that the infringement penalty ($3000 per worker for companies) will be added to existing penalties that can be raised. The offence is widely worded and captures scenarios including where a migrant worker is paid below the wage rate, working outside the location or in a role that is not the role, set on their Accredited Employer Work Visa.
Job Check priority processing change
INZ has changed the Job Check priority processing threshold to allow employers to request for priority processing in certain circumstances where a worker’s visa is due to expire within the next eight weeks. Job Check applications are taking 6-9 weeks to process on average currently, this change will provide much needed reprieve for employers with migrant workers that have visas that are expiring soon.
Longer Accredited Employer Work Visas
New changes to allow INZ to grant Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) for longer periods will take effect on 27 November 2023. The changes include:
- Allowing AEWVs to be granted for up to five years for people earning at least the median wage.
- An increase in the maximum length of an AEWV to three years for people in the care workforce sector paid the level three and four pay rates.
- An option for current AEWV holders to apply for the balance of the longer five-year or three-year visa if they are eligible. Their current visa will not extend automatically to the longer length, an application will need to be submitted.
The changes to allowing for the grant of longer AEWVs are coupled with changes that introduce a ‘maximum continuous stay’ of five years for most AEWV holders, with shorter periods for workers in specific sectors.
INZ is aware that migrant visa holders are being targeted by phone scams coming from New Zealand mobile numbers. One example of the communication used by the scammers is that they will provide prompts for English and Chinese services. After the scammers will communicate that they are from the “Immigration Bureau” and that there is a “serious problem with your visa”. These are not genuine calls from INZ.
Labour hire (triangular) accreditation compliance changes
From 27 November 2023, INZ will be requiring labour hire (triangular) accredited employers who place migrants in specific construction occupations to have at least 35% of their labour hire workforce made up of New Zealand citizens and residents in full time employment. This is an increase from the current/old threshold of 15%. INZ will complete this check as part of Job Check applications.
Message for Employers
Being proactive about meeting immigration compliance or policy requirements is crucial for any business that uses migrant workers. Our team would be happy to help with navigating any of the changes or any workplace issues.
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.