Recent Update to NZ Accredited Employer Work Visa Program

Effective June 26, 2024, NZ Immigration has introduced significant changes to its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) program, explicitly impacting holders of visas in roles classified under ANZSCO levels 4 and 5. These updates depart from previous policies, particularly affecting those needing a direct pathway to residency. Here’s a detailed look at the recent changes and their implications:

  • Restrictions on Visa Sponsorship: AEWV holders in ANZSCO levels 4 and 5 who need a clear pathway to residency are no longer permitted to sponsor visa applications for their partners and dependent children. This change aims to align the AEWV framework more closely with standards previously observed under the Essential Skills Work Visa regime.
  • Independent Application Option: Partners and dependent children of affected AEWV holders can still apply independently for suitable visas, provided they meet the necessary criteria. This adjustment allows family members to pursue their immigration paths independently of the primary visa holder.
  • Broader Policy Alignment: These updates follow broader reforms introduced earlier in 2024, which include the implementation of English language proficiency requirements for migrants applying for lower-skilled ANZSCO level 4 and 5 positions. Additionally, minimum skills and work experience thresholds have been established for most AEWV roles, ensuring incoming workers contribute effectively to New Zealand’s labor market.

Exemptions from Changes

The recent updates will not impact the following:

  • People who already hold visas as a partner or dependent child.
  • AEWV holders working in ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles with a pathway to residency, such as the Green List, sector agreements with residence pathways.
  • Those earning at least 1.5 times the median wage threshold for the Skilled Migrant Category.
  • People with an application as a partner or dependent child will also not be affected. Those applications will be considered against the requirements that were in place on the date they applied.

Current Statistics and Data on AEWV

  • As of June 18, 2024, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had processed 121,574 AEWV applications since the program’s inception.
  • The AEWV scheme currently has 35,509 accredited employers, indicating widespread employer participation and support for the program.

Detailed Overview of Recent Changes

The recent updates to the AEWV program, effective April 7, 2024, have introduced several critical reforms aimed at enhancing the program’s effectiveness and aligning with New Zealand’s economic priorities:

  • English Language Requirement: Migrants applying for lower-skilled ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles must now demonstrate proficiency in the English language. This requirement ensures migrants have the necessary language skills to communicate effectively in New Zealand’s workplace and society.
  • Minimum Skills and Work Experience Thresholds: To qualify for most AEWV roles, migrants must meet specific minimum skills and work experience thresholds. These criteria are designed to ensure that incoming workers possess the necessary qualifications to contribute positively to New Zealand’s economy and society.
  • Engagement with Work and Income: Employers seeking approval to hire migrants for ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles must engage with Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) as part of the approval process. This engagement ensures that local job seekers are considered before recruiting migrant workers, thereby prioritizing employment opportunities for New Zealand residents.
  • Maximum Continuous Stay Reduction: The maximum continuous stay for most ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles has been reduced from 5 to 3 years. This change reflects the government’s commitment to managing the length of stay for temporary migrant workers and maintaining flexibility in response to economic fluctuations.
  • Discontinuation of Franchisee Accreditation Category: The franchisee accreditation category under the AEWV scheme has been discontinued. Businesses previously eligible under this category must now apply for accreditation through standard, high-volume, or triangular employment pathways for hiring overseas workers. This change aims to streamline the accreditation process and ensure consistency across different sectors.

Impact and Considerations

The recent updates to the AEWV program have significant implications for various stakeholders:

  • Employers: Adjusting to new requirements and processes when hiring migrant workers in ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles, including demonstrating compliance with English language standards and engaging with WINZ for approvals.
  • Migrant Workers and Families: Navigating adjusted immigration pathways and planning for potential impacts on New Zealand residency status and family arrangements.
  • Economic Management: Reflecting the government’s strategy to balance financial needs with local market dynamics, ensuring that temporary migrant workers contribute effectively while protecting opportunities for New Zealand residents.
  • Simplification of Processes: Discontinuing the franchisee accreditation category aims to simplify the accreditation process for businesses, promoting efficiency and consistency in hiring practices across different industries.

In conclusion, these updates represent a significant evolution in New Zealand’s immigration policies. They aim to optimize the AEWV program to support economic growth and ensure fairness for all stakeholders involved. By implementing these reforms, New Zealand seeks to strengthen its workforce, foster sustainable economic development, and maintain a transparent and efficient immigration system that benefits the country and its diverse community of residents and workers.


About ICL Immigration

ICL Immigration, based in Auckland, is an established licensed immigration adviser with over 20 years of experience and a remarkable 97% approval rate. We’ve helped over 1,000 immigrants realise their New Zealand settlement dreams.

We specialise in a broad spectrum of visa services, including student, residency, and work visas, and business-related services like employer accreditation. We ensure personalised solutions for individuals and businesses aiming to navigate New Zealand’s immigration landscape successfully.

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