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5 min read - May 17, 2024

Important Changes to AEWV

What is the AEWV Scheme?

New Zealand has been facing years of skilled labour shortages. To help fill this gap, the New Zealand government, along with Immigration New Zealand (INZ), created the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme. The AEWV has been helping employers to mitigate the shortage of workers by allowing those who receive accreditation the ability to hire skilled migrants through this scheme. Since the AEWV scheme became available to employers and migrants alike in May 2022, over 34,000 employers have become accredited, and more than 117,000 AEWV applications have been approved.

Remaining Accredited and Renewing Accreditation

Once accredited as an employer, your initial accreditation will last for 12 months before it needs to be renewed. Following your renewal, standard businesses will remain accredited for 24 months (so long as it has not lapsed for 12 or more months), and franchisees and employers placing migrants with controlling third parties will remain accredited for 12 months.

The renewal process focuses on assessing whether accredited employers have fulfilled their obligations, as declared in the initial application, such as the completion of Employment New Zealand modules and provision of settlement support for their employees. Other key considerations will include maintaining sound financial status and compliance with all immigration laws, employment regulations, and business standards of New Zealand.

In May 2024, INZ announced that the estimated processing time for a renewal will be at least 6 weeks – followed by the ongoing discussion over migrant exploitation, which has led to the tightening of the assessment process within the scheme. K3 Legal’s Immigration team further discusses employer accreditation renewals in their recent article.


Since 2023, INZ has undertaken regular and routine post-accreditation checks, aiming to check at least 16% of accredited employers each year. These checks are to ensure that employers are upholding their responsibilities within the AEWV scheme and complying with all AEWV conditions as well as employment and immigration laws.

In the 2 years since the AEWV scheme was introduced, there has been a reported 255 employers whose accreditation was revoked and 82 employers whose accreditation has been suspended.

Having an accreditation expired, revoked, or suspended, could mean you are unable to:
- Hire new employees via the AEWV
- Support your migrant workers to apply for resident visas (certain categories require an employer to be accredited)
- Support an AEWV holder to apply for their AEWV balance
- Hire partnership-based work visa holders (partner of an AEWV holder with certain conditions).

The K3 Legal Immigration team understands that the main cause of employers having their accreditation revoked/suspended has been due to unfair employee practices, including unjustified dismissals, underpayment of wages/salary in contrast to the employee’s employment agreement or failure to meet NZ minimum wage obligations, and employers asking employees for payment/s in return for a job opportunity.

These post accreditation audit checks could happen to any employer that has received accreditation, and are a combination of randomly selected employers, targeted checks on a sample of employer types, all controlling third party business models, and any businesses that has received a complaint or has had an issue raised to INZ.

Changes for AEWV Employers to Be Aware of

As an employer under the AEWV scheme, or where you’re seeking accreditation, it’s important to be mindful to continuously uphold and stay current with requirements and changes to the scheme. As of April 2024, some key changes for the AEWV scheme have taken effect that accredited employers or employers seeking accreditation need to be aware of:

- A newly introduced English language requirement for migrants applying for low-skilled ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles
- A minimum skills and work experience threshold for most AEWV roles
- A requirement for employers to engage with Work and Income, regarding any roles falling into ANZSCO level 4 and 5, before the approval to bring migrants in will be granted
- A reduction in the maximum continuous stay for most ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles, from 5 years to 3 years
- Employers must ensure that all employees hired under this scheme are employed for at least 30 hours per week
- The franchisee accreditation category is being removed, late in 2024. Franchisee businesses can now apply to bring migrants from overseas through the standard, high volume, or triangular employment accreditation.
- If an employee, hired under the AEWV Scheme, leaves their job a month or more before their visa expires, the employers must inform Immigration New Zealand within 10 days. This does not apply to currently accredited employers until they renew or upgrade their accreditation.

These changes have been implemented with the hope to continue to find the right balance between bringing in the migrants that New Zealand needs, whilst upholding the integrity of the immigration system. Employers will need to remain cognisant of these changes as they continue to employ through the AEWV scheme, or they may unintentionally find themselves on the revoked/suspended list.

Ensuring Compliance with Minimum Employment Relations

To ensure that you, as an employer, meet your obligations under Employment Law, and therefore pass any INZ audit checks, and/or prevent any unintentional complaints when taking specialist actions, such as updating employment agreements, conducting performance or disciplinary processes, or making deductions from employees' pay, we recommend seeking advice from a Human Resources or Legal expert, to ensure that you mitigate any risks.

For Immigration Consultation or Human Resources support our teams at K3 Legal and K3 Human Resources are here to help you.

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) | Immigration New Zealand

Apply for AEWV Accreditation | Immigration New Zealand

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