September 22, 2023

Accredited employers under the microscope

Almost 200 accredited employers are under investigation by Immigration NZ. A small number of employers have had their accreditations suspended or cancelled.
Accredited employers under the microscope

Almost 200 accredited employers are under investigation by Immigration NZ. A small number of employers have already had their accreditation suspended or cancelled.

There are a variety of reasons why these investigations are underway including accusations of migrant exploitation by a few employers. The government has ordered an independent review of the Accredited Employer scheme which is expected to report back in mid-December.

While the review is underway there are increasing numbers of employers suffering increased delays while Immigration NZ request more information to assess applications. The media reports of migrant exploitation plus the apparent lack of checks into the background of visa applicants have led to a crackdown in the processing of Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV). Some of this is already apparent with a hard-line approach to visa applicants who may have provided false or misleading information in a visa application. Tougher measures to assess employer accreditation and jobs are rolling out - be on standby for longer processing times.

The Minister of Immigration announced plans this week to remove the 90-day trial period from job checks and applications for AEWVs. Triangular employers who are accredited or apply to become accredited will need to show proof of financial viability with applications and the government is increasing the requirement for these employers to have a kiwi workforce of at least 35% (up from 15%). Immigration NZ have been directed to toughen up accreditation applications and job checks. Expect more of the same for AEWV applications. Workers offshore where an employer is now under investigation have had visas cancelled.

While there is growing noise around migrant exploitation this should be kept in perspective. The vast majority of accredited employers (circa 28,000) have followed the rules and are good employers. Close to 80,000 AEWVs have been issued and to date around 250 Exploited Migrant Work Visas have been issued. The Minister is unable to quantify just how many exploited migrant workers there are currently in NZ.

Employers should protect their accreditation status by keeping good records, key recruiters in the business are across immigration updates (this newsletter is an excellent source), ensuring new workers have access to settlement information and track employee work visa validity dates to avoid anyone becoming unlawful. Any proposed changes to work conditions for a migrant worker(s) take immigration and employment advice first.

If you have questions or concerns about your company’s accreditation or want to know how to become accredited talk with our team today.

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