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Simple mistakes wipe out immigration visas

Simple mistakes wipe out immigration visas

Simple mistakes wipe out immigration visas

Wednesday 7 September, 2022

Work visa applications are being declined because of simple mistakes. As employers struggled to find staff, work visa rules and Immigration New Zealand's new Accredited Employer Work Visa Scheme (AEWV) were meant to smooth the way. However, the road paved with good intentions has been rocky. Applications for accreditation and job checks have been left stagnating online in Immigration NZ's new automated system. And, despite the government department's best efforts, employers have failed to fully understand the changes.

The online application issues are being addressed, but it appears employers haven't fully understood the changes, or the level of detail and proof needed to meet the new standards. Applications are being turned down across the board because of simple mistakes - from failing to advertise the job to the NZ market for the specified 14 days as part of the labour market test, to failing to give the level of detail needed in job descriptions and employment agreements. 

Impact on businesses

Unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1986, but these mistakes mean Kiwi employers spend more time without adequate staff, creating a wider impact on their businesses. The new three-step application process is part of the transition to an employer-led work visa system. Providing evidence that a business is a good employer as well as showing that a migrant is needed to fill a role now sits squarely with the employer, and so do the associated costs. It makes a lot of sense.

NZ is generally considered a great place for migrants to work, but exploitation is still a reality. The new system is designed, in part, to help address this issue as well. By having oversight of the migrant employment process and a check on the employers, Immigration NZ is taking steps to better monitor how migrant employees are hired.

However, it does mean businesses considering hiring migrants on an accredited employer visa now need to meet extra requirements they've never been asked to supply before. These include supporting their migrant workers to settle into NZ and completing Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) employment modules.

There are stringent labour market tests, but there are now also mandatory requirements for employment agreements to detail the maximum number of hours the employer expects the new hire to work each week before overtime is paid, and what any overtime rate will be. 

Rules are tougher

These rules go further than our current standard employment law. But when you consider the scenario of a migrant coming to NZ on a $55,000 a year salary being required to work up to 60 hours a week, you can see why. That level of remuneration means employers would be paying below the minimum wage threshold.

Employers are also getting caught out when they offer a role to a migrant only to discover the new visa requirements they have to meet to employ that person are very different to - and more stringent than - the old work visa scheme.

The employer could prematurely offer a job to a migrant, then be forced to later be withdraw or cancel it, leaving them in a very awkward situation. This is hugely frustrating for many employers and could be devastating for new migrants planning a new life in NZ. And with record unemployment and the pool of suitable New Zealanders smaller than ever, these delays could be extremely costly to businesses already feeling the pinch.

Our advice to employers is to carefully plan your employment process for migrant workers and seek expert advice ahead of time to help minimise the risk to your business. Well planned and executed accreditation and job check applications are flowing through the immigration system quite quickly now. The devil is very much in the detail.


Our immigration team have created guides around the new Immigration New Zealand's Accredited Employer Work Visa Scheme, available to download for free at the link below.

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