Compulsory Employer Accreditation Coming Your Way in 2021

In 2018-19 the Government consulted on key proposals which will significantly impact New Zealand businesses who employ or might employ migrant workers, as well as on migrant workers.  Those proposals have now been finalised, and are likely to be implemented later this year (following a COVID related delay). Those changes are summarised below.

Work visas applications will be via a new employer-led framework which will consist of three gateways:

Gate 1: The Employer Check (Accreditation)

Gate 2: The Job Check (Labour Market Test)

Gate 3: The Migrant Check

Under this framework, the onus of providing information at the initial stage shifts from the migrant worker to the New Zealand employer. Employers will need to follow a process of submitting an application to Immigration New Zealand with a range of prescribed supporting evidence about their business and paying an applicable fee.

The following six temporary work visa categories will be scrapped and replaced with one type of visa under the new framework:

  • Essential Skills including the Essential Skills in Demand Lists
  • Work to Residence – Long term Skill Shortage List occupation
  • Approval-in-Principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer)
  • Silver Fern (Practical Experience)
  • Silver Fern (Job Search)

The new framework would require employers to hold ‘Employer Accreditation’ status with Immigration New Zealand before a visa could be approved for a migrant worker. This requirement is likely to include employers with existing employees on a work visa that require a visa extension.

The actual mechanics of Accreditation are not yet clear.  However it is reasonable to assume that to hold Accreditation employers will have to demonstrate they are compliant with immigration and employment law, are sustainable, and have appropriate policies and workplace practices.

There will have to be some sort of application process for employers to become accredited, and once the framework is introduced only accredited employers will be able to support migrants for work visas.  A significant hurdle is that at present the Government is proposing to have the new framework come into place on one day, without any kind of preparation or lead in process.  This means all 53,000 New Zealand employers who employ migrants are going to need accreditation for any future work visas from that time.  The administrative burden on Immigration New Zealand of the immediate introduction appears not to have been a consideration. 

To put themselves in a good position and at the front of the queue for accreditation it would be prudent for New Zealand businesses, who already employ migrant workers or intend to in the near future, to plan for this major change, review their processes and practices to ensure that they would be able to meet Immigration New Zealand’s requirements for accreditation.

In fact it would be prudent for all New Zealand businesses to make themselves ‘accreditation’ ready given they may need to employ migrants in the future even if that need is not there now. All New Zealand businesses should carefully consider whether they:

  • meet all immigration and employment law standards
  • have the requisite workplace policies and processes in place
  • understand the consequences of being placed on the MBIE’s stand down list 
  • want to offer a pathway to residence for prospective migrant workers.

Once the compulsory employer accreditation comes into effect we anticipate that there are likely to be processing waiting periods which could have a detrimental impact on your business. As a result, we recommend that employers don’t leave applying for accreditation to the last minute.

We will continue to monitor the developments in this area and will provide further updates as needed. We encourage employers to subscribe to our Publications page.

Talk to us

Contact our Immigration Team for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

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.

Topics: All Select

Nick Mason

Position: Partner
Email: nick.mason@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 7897