Compliance Q&A: Recent Key Border & Accredited Employer Work Visa Updates Explained

Immigration New Zealand has recently made several key announcements.

This article from Lauren Qiu from Stay Legal will examine the recent 1.5 times the median wage ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exception and explain the recent Accredited Employer Work Visa announcements.

1.5 Times The Median Wage ‘Other Critical Worker’ Border Exception

Immigration New Zealand introduced a simplified ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exception on 13 March 2022, 11.59pm.  This simplified border exception is an income-based ‘bright-line test’ where employers can bring in offshore migrant workers through the border exception process if the migrant workers are paid at or above 1.5 times the median wage ($84,240 per annum based on 40 hours or $40.50 per hour) and if they are required to remain in New Zealand for over 6 months to achieve the relevant critical purpose. Under this border exception category, employers no longer need to demonstrate that the relevant migrant workers “have unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand”. This is available for a limited time only. This is available for a limited time only and employers should consider utilising this where necessary.

The border exception request is made by the employer to Immigration New Zealand, and if successful, Immigration New Zealand will then invite the migrant worker to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa.

Migrant workers who enter New Zealand under the at or above 1.5 times the median wage ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exception and are paid at or above 2 times the median wage ($106,080 per annum based on 40 hours or $51 per hour) may also be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa if they can enter New Zealand and apply before 31 July 2022. This is an excellent tool for employers to attract highly-skilled migrant workers.

Accredited Employer Work Visa Updates

On 22 March 2022, Immigration New Zealand provided a further update about the upcoming Accredited Employer Work Visa. The Accredited Employer Work Visa is due to launch on 4 July 2022 and will replace 6 existing work visa types. Within the Accredited Employer Work Visa process, employers will need to gain compulsory Employer Accreditation and pass a Job Check (the equivalent of the old Labour Market Test), before their migrant worker can apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Please note that we have yet to receive the full Accredited Employer Work Visa policy. Further amendments are possible.

Fees Announced

Immigration New Zealand has announced the Accredited Employer Work Visa fees. Employers will need to pay for the Employer Accreditation and Job Check steps. Migrant workforce planning will be essential to minimise costs.

The fees are as follows:

StepFee Amount
Employer Accreditation (Paid By Employer)

·         Standard

·         High-Volume

·         Upgrade (Standard To High Volume)

·         Employers Placing Migrant Workers With Controlling Third Parties

·         Franchisees






Job Check (Paid By Employer)$610
Migrant Check (Paid By Migrant)$540 (Plus $55 Levy)

There are additional fees for reconsiderations (where an application has been declined and a request has been made to Immigration to reconsider their decision).

Employers with Employer Accreditation under the existing Talent (Accredited Employer) scheme will have the fee for their initial Accredited Employer Work Visa Employer Accreditation waived, as long as their existing accreditation has at least 6 months left, from 23 May 2022, until it expires.

Compliance Q&A Legal Matters

Employer Accreditation & Job Check Launch Dates Deferred

Employer Accreditation applications have been deferred and will now open on 23 May 2022. Job Check applications have also been deferred and will now open on 20 June 2022. We strongly recommend that employers start preparing for this in April 2022 if they are wanting to support migrant workers on Accredited Employer Work Visas as soon as it opens on 4 July 2022.

Immigration New Zealand has explained that the application process will be on the enhanced Immigration Online platform. The applications will be declaration-based. This means that employers will make declarations at the time of their Employer Accreditation application and must follow their declarations.

Median Wage Set To Increase

Immigration New Zealand’s definition of median wage is set to increase on 4 July 2022 to $27.76 per hour. In practical terms, it means employers who are intending to apply for a Job Check before and after 4 July 2022 should use the new median wage figure. This is because, even if the Job Check is approved before 4 July 2022, the Accredited Employer Work Visa will be assessed based on the new median wage figure.

Immigration New Zealand has indicated that more flexibility will be given on how the median wage is to be calculated. This will be announced in due course.

High-Volume Accreditation Criteria Updated

Employers who intend to support 6 or more migrant workers on the Accredited Employer Work Visa at any one time must apply for High-Volume Employer Accreditation. Previously, Immigration New Zealand indicated that to gain High-Volume Employer Accreditation employers needed to pay their migrant workers at least 10% above the minimum wage, unless the migrant workers were covered by a collective agreement. Immigration New Zealand has now removed the 10% above the minimum wage requirement. Like Standard Employer Accreditation (for employers who intend to support up to 5 migrant workers on the Accredited Employer Work Visa at any one time), High-Volume Employer Accreditation will now need to pay at or above the median wage. Further High-Volume Employer Accreditation requirements may still be considered in the future by Immigration New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand has also confirmed that employers can now pay a fee to upgrade their Standard Employer Accreditation to High-Volume Employer Accreditation.

Job Checks No Longer Regionalised

Unlike previous announcements, at the Job Check stage, the Labour Market Test (advertising requirements) will no longer be assessed based on the employer’s region. All employers will now need to advertise their vacancies in accordance with the new advertising criteria unless the role is paid at least twice the new median wage.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that Job Checks can be for multiple positions of the same role.  The Job Check is also proposed to last for either 6 months from approval date or when the employer’s Employer Accreditation expires, whichever is earlier.

Content supplied by Stay Legal. This is to provide general guidance only. It is correct at the date of this article (05/04/2022) and is subject to further updates

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