Important Update on Changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Immigration New Zealand recently announced a swathe of changes to the accredited employer work visa (AEWV) that may affect your international recruitment strategies and employment of foreign workers in your organisations. As the landscape changes, it is essential to stay informed and be prepared for these modifications.

The changes primarily affect Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) level 4 and 5 roles. The duration for these visas has been revised to two years, with the possibility of extending for an additional year with a secondary job check. This change aims to better align foreign workforce needs with the local employment market. For roles within the seasonal snow and adventure tourism sectors, as well as the transport sector (specifically bus drivers paid below median wage), the maximum continuous stay has also been limited to three years.

It is crucial to note that there are exemptions to these changes. Workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, or those occupations on the green list or covered by a Sector agreement residency pathway, will not be affected by these adjustments.

The process of hiring through the AEWV requires employers to engage with Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) to fulfil job check requirements. Job advertisements for ANZSCO level 4 and 5 must run for a minimum of 21 days. Additionally, candidates must meet a minimum skills and experience threshold, which includes three years of relevant experience or a relevant qualification at level 4 or above. These requirements are waived for roles paying at least twice the median wage and those on the green list.

Another significant update is the addition of English language proficiency requirements. Candidates for ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles must now complete and English language test scoring a minimum of 4 in International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or an equivalent score on another recognized test such as TOEFL iBT, PTE, Cambridge or OET.

For current visa holders or applicants who submitted their application between the 21st of June 2023 and the 7th of April 2024 for roles paid at or above the median wage, the eligible maximum continuous stay has been extended to five years.

Lastly, it is now mandatory for employers to notify Immigration New Zealand within ten days if an AEWV worker leaves their employment, unless the worker’s visa is due to expire in less than a month.

We encourage all our clients to review these changes and assess how they might affect your hiring and operations. Our team is on hand to aid you with any questions you might have and to help navigate these new requirements.

This update was written by David Chalmers, Licensed Immigration Advisor for Lowie Recruitment International.