May 21, 2024

Worried about your migrant workforce?

Some employers are concerned they may lose workers following the changes announced in April to the AEWV scheme.
Worried about your migrant workforce?

Some employers are concerned they may lose workers following the changes announced in April to the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme (AEWV). You can read the details of the April 2024 AEWV changes here.

While it is true in some cases AEWVs can’t be extended as applicants won’t meet the new English language standard or work experience or qualification requirements a large number will qualify for work visa extensions. It is important if you have migrant workers you want to keep working in your business that you (and they) take advice now to establish eligibility for another AEWV and pathways to residence. People may be disappointed if immigration advice is left until the last few months before a visa expires because time ran out to remedy eligibility for the next visa.

There is time for staff who act quickly to upskill their English, collect evidence of overseas work experience, have qualifications assessed and/or be genuinely considered for promotion into a role that may qualify for another AEWV.

On the other hand, you may be considering a restructure in your business. If any migrant workers are at risk of job loss you need to consider your obligations. These employees must be treated the same under employment law as your local Kiwi workforce. The expiry of a work visa is not in itself a valid reason for termination. Take advice from your employment and immigration experts to make sure you follow the right process.

Employers affected by the tightening of the AEWV scheme in lower-skilled roles still have plenty of options to find staff. There is an increase in the local labour market of citizens or residents looking for work. The available talent pool might be much larger than you realise once roles posted are on major job sites like Seek that now are attracting much bigger numbers of applicants than was the case 6 or 12 months ago.

There are Working Holiday Visas (WHV) agreements with 45 countries. Most allow up to 12 months of employment in New Zealand, but two standouts are Canada (23 months) and the UK (36 months). Most of these schemes are open to people aged 18 to 30 but in some cases, the age is extended out to 35. Many people think WHVs are just for backpackers looking for casual work, in fact, a percentage of the thousands who arrive every year transition across to an AEWV when they secure skilled employment and are captured by the New Zealand lifestyle. WHVs allow the holder to work in any job and any region of New Zealand. Some WHVs only allow employment with one employer for up to 3 months, but an AEWV can extend that time limit considerably.

If you are planning changes to your migrant workforce (scaling up or down) talk to our team about what immigration compliance you need to consider or to get answers to any questions. We have a dedicated team of employer experts.

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