Accreditation delay- What employers should know

Recently the government announced another delay to the launch of the employer accreditation scheme, principal lawyer for NZIL Aaron Martin advises what this means for employers.

The old saying ‘the wheels of justice turn slowly’ sprang to mind as I read the news that the mandatory accreditation of employers start date has now been delayed to mid-2022. It comes after migrant workers were cut off from being able to access a work to residence pathway from 31 October 2021. There has been no indication that this pathway will be reopened in the future.

Workers looking to get their work to residence visa based on employment with an accredited employer or a Long Terms Skill Shortage, have until 31st October to submit their applications. Otherwise, they might get a fright as those visas are being spirited away.

Before we continue, a quick edit to a previous INZ announcement:

I need to correct a statement about the work to residence visa based on employment with an accredited employer. There was an announcement on the INZ website that this cut off date would be extended. This was a mistake, and the Minister is yet to decide about possible extensions. The final date for applications remains 31 October.

What do these changes mean for migrant workers looking to get a visa?

Between now and 30 June 2022:

Any worker with a work visa (of any type, including open work visas like post study or partnership visas) can get new work visas for two (2) years (if paid above $27 per hour) or three (3) years (if paid at or above $27 per hour).

  1. The work visa applicant must be looking to carry on working in the same role they are currently in. (there are no guidelines as to how long they needed to have been in the role); for the same employer and in the same location

This will not allow work visa applicants to move into new positions; or to new employers or new locations of work outside where they currently work or outside the location referenced on the work visa.

Examples of how these changes could affect migrants

Example One:

Ajay holds a work visa expiring in August 2022. It allows him to work as a warehouse assistant where he is being paid $27 per hour. This means that under the new rules, he can get a work visa for three (3) years. But he must stay in the same role working for the same business at the same location. He cannot use these rules to change to work as a class five (5) truck driver.

My tip to Ajay:
Be careful about the timing of the new application. It would be best to apply in around May 2022 to get maximum leverage.

Example Two:
Your employee Ajay has a post study open work visa, expiring August 2022. There are no conditions on the work visa. If you want to promote him or reassign him to a new location, do it before he makes a new visa application.

My tip to Ajay’s employers:

Once he is in his new role and has a history of employment in that role, make an application before these new rules expire. These are:

  1. The employer will not need to advertise the role to get the visa
  2. The work visa applicant will not need to redo police clearances or medical and x-ray certificates if these have been previously presented
  3. Technically, no employment agreement is needed but can be requested
  4. Between now and 28 August, these applications must be made manually using the modified forms for that purpose.

From 28 August, applications will be able to be made online…supposedly.

My thoughts:
While these new rules offer more clarity and certainty for migrant workers, it is important to establish which staff can utilise the new rules. From an HR and resourcing perspective, it’s important that the application date is calculated so that migrant workers can get the maximum time on the new visa. This in turn will mean that can be of maximum benefit for the business’s needs over the next 24-36 months, making it a win-win for everyone!

Read more about the accreditation process here.

Need help or advice on your immigration situation? Contact Aaron Martin at NZIL for an honest and helpful appraisal.

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