Mandatory accreditation and new Temporary Visa framework


The much-anticipated detail of New Zealand’s new temporary visa framework was released publicly by Immigration New Zealand today.

The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and associated mandatory accreditation standards will be introduced on 1 November 2021.

Under the new framework, only the following six work visa streams will be replaced by a single visa, the AEWV. Other work visa categories remain at status quo.

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – Approved in Principle
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa

The new framework will introduce three checks before an employer can hire a migrant worker on an Employer supported work visa.

  1. Employer Check: Employers need to be accredited.
  2. Job Check: Checks will be completed to confirm the terms and conditions of the offer of employment comply with employment laws and the labour market test (where relevant) has been met.
  3. Migrant Worker Check: Migrants must show they meet health, character and identity requirements and hold the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application.

All employers will be required to be accredited with Immigration New Zealand in order to hire a migrant under the new employer supported work visa process. This includes employers who are accredited under the current immigration system. No transitional policy will apply and those employers who hold an existing accredited status with Immigration New Zealand will have to reapply under the new system.

The accreditation application system will become live from late September when employers can commence their applications ahead of the changes coming into force.

Employers who do not employ migrants on employer supported work visas (e.g., Open work visas like Working Holiday Visas, Partnership work visas or Post-study work visas) or who only utilise visa pathways not covered by the change, such as Specific Purpose or Event Work visas, are not required to become accredited under the new system.

Please refer to here for specific information from Immigration New Zealand.


The key objectives of the new framework are to:

  • reduce New Zealand’s reliance on lower-paid temporary workers by increasing the need for employers to hire and train New Zealanders;
  • better address our productivity, skills, and infrastructure challenges by supporting an ease of access to migrant talent where these is a genuine need;
  • increase the skill levels of migrants; and
  • reduce migrant exploitation.

Mandatory Accreditation

Before hiring a migrant on an AEWV, employers will need to gain Employer Accreditation. The accreditation levels are:

  • Standard Accreditation: For employers wishing to employ up to five migrant workers on AEWVs
  • High-volume Accreditation: For employers wishing to employ six or more migrant workers on AEWVs

Labour hire employers and franchisees who want to place migrants on employer supported work visas with third parties will need to meet additional criteria to become accredited under the new framework. The criteria are expected to be released later this year following further consultation with industry stakeholders.

Immigration New Zealand have advised the following in relation to the requirements for New Zealand employers to obtain Accreditation under the new framework:

  • Employers must be a genuinely operating business, including being registered with Inland Revenue and holding a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
  • Be in a sound financial position
  • Not have a recent history of non-compliance with immigration and employment laws, and
  • will take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation including:
    • completing online employment modules
    • allowing migrant workers time to complete online employment rights modules during paid work hours
    • paying all recruitment costs inside and outside New Zealand
    • providing workers with work-related settlement information and local community and services information

In addition, higher volume employers will need to commit to improving pay and employment conditions over time by meeting a minimum pay requirement of 10% above minimum wage unless covered by a collective agreement. Commitments on training and upskilling New Zealanders will also be required; however, the detail of this requirement is still under review.

Accredited Employer status under the new framework will be valid for 12 months in the first instance with renewals being granted for 24 months for Standard and High-volume Accredited Employers. Franchisee and Labour-hire employers will be granted accreditation for a 12-month duration only, even after a renewal.


  • 30 June 2021: Closure of ability to apply for Accreditation (Talent – Accredited Employer), Labour Hire Accreditation and Approval in Principle (Essential Skills)
  • Late September 2021: New online accreditation application system opens.
  • 31 October 2021: Closure of ability to apply for Talent (Accredited Employer) and Essential Skills work visas under existing immigration framework.
  • 1 November 2021: New temporary work visa framework goes live.

If employers wish to utilise Accreditation (Talent – Accredited Employer), Labour Hire Accreditation and/or Approval in Principle (Essential Skills) between 30 June 2021 and 1 November 2021, they will need to apply for these before the closure on 30 June 2021.

Temporary Visa holders

Under the new framework, Immigration New Zealand have advised the following in relation to temporary visa holders:

  • Employers must complete and pay for the employer accreditation and job check before a AEWV can be applied for
  • Work visa applications under the existing visa framework, such as Talent – Accredited Employer Visas or Essential Skills Work Visas, can be applied for up to and including 31 October 2021
  • Talent – Accredited Employer Work Visa holders who have a Residence from Work application in process can continue to apply for a further Talent Visa beyond 1 November 2021, assuming they remain with their employer
  • A residence pathway will exist for migrant workers paid twice the median wage and employed by an accredited employer for a minimum of 24 months (more details are currently being worked on and have not yet been released)

Next Steps

Those employers who are likely to require migrant talent from 1 November 2021 are encouraged to apply for accreditation under the new framework from late September, when the system is expected to be live. Immigration New Zealand does not anticipate 4 processing timeframes to exceed the current accreditation application processing timeframes; however, it would pay to be proactive in this instance.

New Era Consulting will continue to work with Immigration New Zealand and keep you informed as further detail is released.

If you would like to discuss the upcoming changes in greater detail and how they impact your business and employees, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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