Employers with foreign workers are facing the largest shift in work visas in a generation, according to the immigration ministry.
The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) replaces six work visas and applications under the old system, which ends at the end of next month.
The new visa process is led by the employer, who has to complete a job check before they or their migrant workers can apply for a work visa.
From November, companies wanting to recruit migrants will have to be accredited – proving they are compliant, genuine businesses which allow staff to learn about their work rights.
Pre-pandemic figures showed about 24,000 companies employed migrant staff.
Consultation on changing work visas – mainly essential skills and talent visas – began in 2018 and were agreed the following year.
Then-immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the system was overly complex and did not incentivise businesses with labour shortages to recruit or train more New Zealanders, or to invest in technology to increase productivity.
Immigration New Zealand said the changes are designed to support a future economy that is less reliant on lower-paid temporary workers, improves skills and infrastructure and increases the skill levels of migrants.
Under the new system, accreditation of the employer will be followed by a job check – to confirm the job pays the market rate and complies with employment laws.
It will also include a labour market test unless the job is very highly paid (200 percent of the median wage) or on a skills shortage list, or is in the regions and pays at least the median wage. For jobs paying below the median wage, the Ministry of Social Development will also check whether there are New Zealanders available to do the job.
Then and only then may a work visa application be made.
Firms will be recognized for a 12-month term before being required to renew their accreditation every two years, with prices to be revealed in August.
Franchises and employers that wish to place migrants on AEWVs with third parties, such as labor hire organizations, must fulfill extra requirements and have their certification renewed annually.
Employers who solely recruit migrants on visas with open work rights, such as partnership visas, working vacation visas, and students with work rights, are exempt from becoming certified.