The way in which kiwi employers are able to employ temporary migrant labour is changing.

From July 2021 all employers who wish to employ migrants under temporary visa skills criteria are required to be accredited with Immigration New Zealand, in a new employer-led initiative, applied for online. This is the first step in a three-pronged approach for an immigration approved employer/employee relationship.

It is thought that these changes are coming into force to ensure better compliance with immigration and employment laws and in managing New Zealand’s labour needs in a shifting labour environment. All are fundamental factors in maintaining the integrity of the immigration system.

The legislation is still under development by Government, although an overview can be viewed via the Immigration New Zealand website:

What Does an Employer Need to Know?

Key points to note are:

The new system includes the replacement of most existing skills-based work visa streams, with the most common being the current essential skills work visa and associated approval in principle, and talent-based visas (current accredited employer and long term skills shortage avenues). Current visa holders under these categories retain their visa conditions until expiry.

Step 1 – Employer Check

Employers must obtain accreditation with Immigration New Zealand in order to employ temporary migrant labour. The level of assessment and criteria to be met depends on the nature of the business. Three levels will exist – standard accreditation for businesses with an intended migrant labour force of five or less, high-volume accreditation for six or more, and additional criteria for labour-hire companies and franchisees.

Those businesses with a smaller number of migrant employees must demonstrate a history of compliance with employment and immigration laws, importantly non-exploitation of migrant labour, and have good business practices like reasonable human resource policies, paying market rates and complying with any relevant industry standards. Where a higher number of workers are required, employers must demonstrate the same with the addition of committing to training and up-skilling existing New Zealanders employed.

Accreditation is valid for 12 months initially, with longer terms considered upon renewal. It is thought this approach is being taken initially in order to monitor the effectiveness of the new system going forward.

Current accredited employers with validity expiry occurring before July 2021 are encouraged to seek renewal under existing criteria in order to avoid the rush which is likely to cause delays thus uncertainty for an employer and it could be that as Immigration New Zealand refine the new criteria in the lead-up to full implementation later this year, the rules end-up more stringent due to shifting labour market needs with an onus on protecting local labour.

Associated application fee amount(s) are yet to be released, although based on current accreditation costs (NZ$2,130), these are likely to remain significant. Also, it is traditional that immigration related fees are reviewed in July each year, often with increases seen, so the timing of such coincides which could see an increase.

Step 2 – Job Check

Similar checks to the current standards are expected in this phase, including ensuring the role offered is genuine, appropriate payrate and employment law is being met. Labour market testing is likely to remain in place, which requires an employer advertising the role to attract New Zealanders, including some checks required at State level, although the exact criteria is still under consideration by Immigration New Zealand due to pandemic effects. It is expected that high paying roles and those working in vocations considered skill shortages and those in certain regions will be exempt from this requirement, again these specific areas of need are under consideration by law-makers.

Step 3 – Migrant Worker Check

Any desired migrant intending employment for the needed position offered by an employer will need to demonstrate they are suitably skilled to undertake the role and meet identity, health and character requirements.

As above, associated fee amounts for an application are being considered.

What An Employer Should Do?

Let’s face it, most employers have a migrant labour component to their business. We know it can be confusing interpreting immigration rules, thus it can be a daunting prospect dealing with Government authority, especially during these uncertain times, and the efforts with time spent needed to meet immigration criteria detracts from core business activities.

That’s why professionals like us are here to help navigate the maze and aid in your business needs with handling immigration related matters.

We find the most common issues employers face is the retention of good migrant staff, the stresses associated with dealing with Immigration New Zealand on visa matters for staff and future-proofing for business growth.

So why wait? It is highly recommended that employers act now through securing accreditation in the best interests of retaining their migrant workforce and being one step ahead of the rest, and for peace of mind Immigration New Zealand changes will have minimal impact on the continuance of business operations.

Successfully gaining employer accreditation with Immigration New Zealand gives an employer some certainty that their company is seamlessly able to retain desired migrant employees and enables them to easily consider growing their migrant workforce to benefit the business into the future as they see fit.

It is important to get it right first time to avoid hassles and further associated costs. The experienced and dedicated team at Professional Visa Solutions will ensure we work closely with you, the employer, every step of the way, from gaining deep understanding of business needs to ensuring your labour force needs are met.

We provide samples of all that is needed, help devise employment related documentation that meets with stringent standards, provide exemplary tailored guidance and advice, and administer high service standards throughout the entire process of gaining accreditation through to gaining a maximum visa entitlement to preferred workers without complication. All at very competitive prices.