Immigration Alert! Changes to Accredited Employer Work Visa Scheme

Work Visa Application
Related expertise
Special Counsel

On Sunday 7 April, the Minister of Immigration announced immediate and significant changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) scheme.

What are the main AEWV changes?

  • Immigration New Zealand has re-introduced the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSCO) requirements to visa applications.
  • Many migrants who are filling lower-level ANZSCO roles, those at ANZSCO 4 and 5, will now only be able to stay a maximum of three years in New Zealand. As of 7 April, visas for these roles will be issued for an initial period of two years, with the ability to obtain a further 12 month visa.
  • Any migrants applying for a visa to fill an ANZSCO level 4 or 5 position must provide evidence that they meet a minimum English language requirement.
  • Any employer seeking to fill an ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 position must advertise the vacancy for 21 calendar days and also engage with Work and Income.
  • Employers must now take reasonable steps to check that a prospective migrant meets minimum skills requirements to be granted an AEWV, which is at least three years of relevant experience or a Level Four qualification. It may be necessary to obtain an assessment of a migrant’s qualification from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
  • Employers must also now take reasonable steps to ensure that a prospective migrant has the necessary skills or qualifications to undertake the job in question.
  • New AEWVs will be issued with a condition requiring employers to employ migrants for at least 30 hours per week.

Changes to resident visa pathways

From 7 April, Bus and Truck Drivers cannot obtain a Transport Work to Residence visa. Therefore, those migrants will not have that pathway to residence available to them.

However, the government has added six new roles to the Green List, which enables pathways to residence. These occupations are:

  • Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  • Naval Architect (aka Marine Designer)
  • ICT Database and Systems Administrator
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Corrections Officer

Disappointingly, for many employers, the government has rescinded its plans to add the following roles into the Green List:

  • Paving Plant Operators
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Pressure Welder
  • Welder
  • Fitter (General)
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Metal Machinist (First Class)
  • Panel Beater
  • Vehicle Painter
  • Road Roller Operator

Also, the government has rescinded its plans to add the following roles to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement:

  • Driller’s Assistant
  • Earthmoving Labourer
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator General
  • Linemarker
  • Machine Operators not elsewhere classified.
  • Mechanic’s Assistant
  • Road Traffic Controller

What other changes do we need to know about?

  • From now on, any employer being actively investigated for any breach of their accreditation may have their accreditation suspended.
  • From 7 April 2024, accredited employers must also notify INZ within ten working days if an AEWV holder leaves their employment more than a month before their visa expires. Accredited employers must also notify INZ of any respective changes to its Key People within ten working days.
  • Franchisee accreditation will end later in 2024. Franchisee employers will be able to apply for standard, high-volume, or triangular accreditation, depending on their specific circumstances.

Is this the end of the changes?

Unfortunately, not. There is likely to be further change to the scheme in the near future, as well as changes to other visa categories. The immigration team will continue to monitor any announcements and provide updates.

Special thanks to Special Counsel Nicky Robertson for preparing this informative article. 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

Related insights

Find an expert