New Zealand: Critical Phase-Outs Before Accredited Employer Work Visa Roll-out

June 25, 2021

Key Points

  • On June 22, 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced regulatory changes to the current Accredited Employer Work Visa program. Three existing policies will cease on June 30, 2021.
  • The three phased-out policies are: Accredited Employer (Talent – Accredited Employer), Labour Hire Accreditation (Essential Skills), and Approval in Principle (Essential Skills).  
  • Visa status renewals and accreditation renewal applications (under these three) are permitted until June 30, 2021. Employers will not be able to renew or apply under these policies after June 30, 2021.
  • Foreign nationals will be able to apply for Essential Skills and Talent (Accredited Employer) Work to Residence visas, and other temporary work visas, until Oct. 31, 2021.
  • These changes are in preparation for the upcoming new Accredited Employer Work Visa Program, due to kick off Nov. 1, 2021.

Overview

INZ is phasing out these three policies to prepare for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa system. Employers who were granted approval in principle under current regulatory requirements must apply (and match credentials) for the new accreditation system by Nov. 1, 2021. Employers must complete this application process before hiring foreign national employees under the new system.

Employers who are not hiring foreign nationals on temporary visas before Nov. 1, 2021:

Because of the Nov. 1, 2021 cutoff, employers who don’t anticipate using accreditation or approval in principle between now and Oct. 31, 2021 should wait. They should apply for accreditation under the new program, and do not need to take additional action now. Any employers holding 1 of the 3 phasing-out statuses who are not planning to hire temporary workers between now and Oct. 31, 2021 may allow their status to expire.

Additional note: Any employers with staff on current temporary work visas do not need to maintain active accreditation status for the duration of those visas.

Employers who are hiring foreign nationals on temporary work visas between now and Oct. 31, 2021:

Employers must hold the appropriate status and credentials to hire foreign nationals using 1 of these accreditation policies. Hiring must occur between now and Oct. 31, 2021. If employer accreditation status is expiring between now and Oct. 31, 2021 (and the employer intends to hire), current accreditation status must be renewed by June 30, 2021.

If employers intend to apply for a different accreditation status than they currently hold before the new system begins, they must do so by June 30, 2021.  As above, employers with staff on temporary work visas do not need to maintain active accreditation status for the duration of those visas.

If employer accreditation status expires after Oct. 31, 2021, no action is needed.

Foreign nationals holding temporary work visas will not be impacted by these changes so long as they meet visa conditions and their visas are current. They may still apply for residence after Oct. 31, 2021.

What are the Changes?

These phase-outs are part of an expansive Government effort to prioritize workforce balance. The overall changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa program will help reduce exploitation of foreign nationals and offer additional work opportunities for New Zealanders. Employers will take a more active role in the visa application process.

Looking Ahead

Employers with New Zealand-bound talent should review their accreditation statuses, their employee’s visas, and consider their needs between now and Nov. 1, 2021. Employers seeking renewals of existing accreditation have until June 30, 2021. Otherwise, employers should be prepared for more changes and application announcements in autumn 2021.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional

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