As many of you know, 2022 saw a heap of changes to immigration law. It’s been a while since we’ve had an update. So, Lauren from Stay Legal has the latest on what employers need to know.
Employer Accreditation Durations Extended
Employer Accreditation renewal applications will be deferred. On December 12, 2022, the Minister of Immigration announced that Employer Accreditations will automatically be extended by 12 months if the first Accredited Employer Work Visa Employer Accreditation is applied for by 4 July 2023.
Job Change Applications Introduced for Accredited Employer Work Visas
Accredited Employer Work Visa holders can now apply for a Job Change application to change their employer, job, location, or a combination of these conditions. A Job Change application keeps the Accredited Employer Work Visa duration the same, however, it updates the conditions on the Accredited Employer Work Visa.
To support a new migrant employee with their Job Change application, employers must have Employer Accreditation and must have a valid Job Check for the role that will be filled. There are special rules for Job Change applications where an Accredited Employer Work Visa holder is changing from a job paid at or above the median wage to a job below the median wage. We suggest specific advice if this is the case.
New Sector Agreement Median Wage Exemptions
Under the Accredited Employer Work Visa policy, unless a role is on the Roles Exempt From Median Wage list, employers need to pay at least the median wage to support a migrant employee on an Accredited Employer Work Visa. The current median wage is at $27.76 per hour. Immigration New Zealand has reached new Sector Agreements with certain key sectors to allow for certain roles to be paid below the median wage for a set time period.
Median Wage Will Increase On 27 February 2023
Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that they will increase the median wage on February 27, 2023 to $29.66 per hour. All pay thresholds based on the median wage will also be updated. This includes pay thresholds which relate to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), sector agreements, and various residence visa categories.
Under the Accredited Employer Work Visa policy, unless a role is on the Roles Exempt From Median Wage list, employers need to pay at least the median wage to support a migrant employee on an Accredited Employer Work Visa. The migrant employee must meet the median wage threshold in place at the time of their Accredited Employer Work Visa application. Immigration New Zealand has indicated that if the median wage threshold increases after an employer’s Job Check has been approved and before the migrant employee has applied for their Accredited Employer Work Visa, the migrant employee may need to be paid the new median wage figure. For example, if an employer is granted a Job Check on 1 December 2022 for a role based on the current median wage of $27.76 per hour and their migrant employee applies for their Accredited Employer Work Visa on 15 December 2022, then the migrant employee will only need to be paid at least $27.76 per hour. However, if the migrant employee applies for their Accredited Employer Work Visa on 1 March 2023, then the migrant employee will need to be paid at least $29.66 per hour because they have applied after 27 February 2023.
Ability To Support Open Partnership-Based Work Visas
Immigration New Zealand has indicated that they will proceed with the open Partnership-Based Work Visas changes, however these changes have been deferred to April 2023. Immigration New Zealand has indicated that from April 2023, most Accredited Employer Work Visa holders will no longer be able to support their partners to apply for open Partnership-Based Work Visas. Immigration New Zealand has noted that Accredited Employer Work Visa holders who meet Green List requirements or earn at least twice the median wage (currently $55.52 per hour) will still be able to support their partners on open Partnership-Based Work Visas from April 2023 onwards. The Minister of Immigration has indicated that he will provide further information in February 2023.
Employers who rely on a partnership-based open work visa workforce should plan for this and renew visas where necessary.
Removal Of Mandatory Chef Qualification Requirement
Previously, chefs wanting to apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa were required to have a certificate at New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) Level 4 or higher, which included the credit and knowledge requirements of a New Zealand Certificate in Cookery Level 4, or comparable overseas qualification. This effectively prevented highly experienced chefs with no formal qualifications to apply for Accredited Employer Work Visas as chefs. Some had to apply as cooks. This mandatory chef qualification requirement has now been removed.
Stay Legal is a specialist immigration law firm that assists businesses and migrant employees with practical immigration solutions. Contact Lauren at Stay Legal at www.staylegal.co.nz or connect on social media: Facebook or LinkedIn
Disclaimer: This article was written to provide general guidance only. It is correct at the date of this article (25 January 2023) and is subject to further updates.
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