Accredited Employer Work Visa Changes

By Lavinia Askin

7 December 2023

On 27 November 2023, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) increased the maximum continuous stay and visa length for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). In this article we provide an overview of what this means for migrant workers and employers.

Maximum continuous stay

The maximum continuous stay is the total time a person can hold AEWV(s) before they must spend time outside of New Zealand to be eligible for a further AEWV.

The maximum continuous stay has been extended to five years for migrant workers paid at or above the median wage, or the level 4 pay rate for the care workforce sector. This is counted from when the first AEWV was issued, or when the worker arrived in New Zealand (if their AEWV was granted while they were offshore).

When the maximum continuous stay is reached, generally AEWV holders must leave New Zealand for a specific duration period of time – usually 12 months.  Once the individuals have spent this required time outside New Zealand, their clock restarts and they will become eligible to apply for a further AEWV.  

It is advisable that migrant workers (and their employers) plan ahead and seek immigration advice on their ability to remain in New Zealand.  This is because some individuals may be eligible for an alternative work or resident visa, and may not need to depart New Zealand and leave their employment.

Longer visa length

INZ has also increased the maximum visa length of AEWVs to five years for people earning at least the median wage.  In addition, it has increased the maximum visa length of AEWVs to three years for individuals in the care workforce sector paid the level 3 and 4 pay rates. This change will benefit employers in the care workforce sector who are experiencing significant staff shortages.

Current AEWVs will not automatically extend to the longer visa length. Those with an existing AEWV may be eligible to apply for another AEWV to obtain the visa balance for the maximum visa length. 

Accredited Employers can support their employee to apply for their AEWV balance if they are paid at least the median wage or they are employed as part of the care workforce sector agreement. In certain circumstances, employers will not need to complete another Job Check for the role. We recommend that employers seek immigration advice and assistance with this process ahead of time.

When can people apply for another AEWV?

INZ expects a significant number of people to be eligible for AEWV renewals for the balance of five years, and have advised that it will generally only start processing balance applications when an individual’s current AEWV expiry date is within the next nine months. The visa applications for partners and dependent children will also be on hold until the AEWV application is decided.

In the event that a migrant worker’s current AEWV expires before their balance application is completed, they are likely to be issued with an interim visa allowing them to remain in New Zealand and continue working in their current role for up to six months.

These are significant changes

Pitt & Moore is here to help if you need advice or assistance understanding these changes to the AEWV. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our immigration team.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Lavinia Askin

Lavinia Askin

Position: Associate
DDI: +64 3 928 0722

Topics: All Select