Over 5,000 employers apply for Immigration New Zealand accreditation
Ankur Sabharwal is the owner of immigration consultancy Visa issues. He is a licensed immigration consultant and handles complex immigration matters.
OPINION: Over 5,000 New Zealand employers have already applied for accreditation with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) before the Accredited Employer Work Visa category opens on July 4.
According to statistics provided by INZ as of June 30, 5282 employers have applied for accreditation since May 23. Of these, 3819 applications have already been approved.
INZ aims to process 90% of employer accreditation applications within 2 weeks, but did not respond to my request to say whether this speed standard is met.
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Why is it important for employers to be accredited?
The Essential Skills work visa category closes this Sunday, July 3. From Monday, employers wishing to bring foreign workers to New Zealand on work visas will need to be accredited by the INZ.
Employers whose staff hold Essential Skills work visas that expire from January 2023 will need to be accredited if they want to continue employing them.
The INZ estimated that around 24,000 employers would apply for certification. I suspect this number will be higher, given the tight job market and the fact that INZ is often surprised by the number of applications it receives (for example, INZ predicted that 165,000 people would be eligible under the category 2021 Resident Visa; over 200,000 people have actually applied, with more likely to apply before the category closes on July 31).
Government-funded employers, such as hospitals and schools, are only beginning to realize that if they want to continue employing migrant workers, they will first need to be accredited by the INZ.
The government has indicated that from 2023, all employers wishing to employ migrants on work visas (including those on ‘open’ work visas such as post-study work visas) will need to apply for and be approved as an INZ Accredited Employer.
Is it easy for an employer to be accredited?
Easy enough. In most cases, INZ accepts statements from an employer on their application form that they have met the requirements of immigration and employment law and will continue to do so. An employer must also declare that it:
- not have suffered a loss in the last 24 months; Where
- have a positive cash position for each of the last 6 months; Where
- have sufficient capital investment to ensure the viability of the business; Where
- have a credible plan of at least two years (for example, by having employment contracts) to ensure that their business remains viable and continues.
Only a small number of employers are asked to provide additional evidence to support their application for certification. These employers tend to be ‘contract’ or ‘triangular’ employers, ie employers who hire migrants and send them to work for other companies.
INZ requires labor employers to provide more evidence with their applications, such as their policies and procedures to ensure that employees are well taken care of at the workplaces they are sent to.
What are hooks?
While the first application for employer accreditation can be relatively straightforward, INZ will take a closer look at an employer’s second application, which must be made within 12 months of accreditation approval.
Indeed, employers are required to give guarantees in their original certification applications, in particular that they:
- Train their “key people” (senior managers, including HR managers) on New Zealand business standards by completing Employment New Zealand online training modules
- Provide “settlement information” to employees within one month of being approved for an accredited employer work visa.
- With its second application for accreditation, INZ will ask employers for proof that these safeguards have been met – failure to do so could result in their application being refused.
Employer certification is only the first step…
Once accredited, employers will need to apply for employment verification from INZ to prove that no New Zealanders were available for the positions they wish to fill with overseas workers.
Advertising requirements are much stricter for employment verification applications than they were in the Essential Skills category.
For example, job postings should list the job description, minimum and maximum salaries (which should be the market rate for that position and at least $27.76 for most occupations), location of employment, minimum working hours, minimum skills, experience and qualifications required for the position.
Employers should not inflate qualification and work experience requirements; otherwise, INZ may object.
Only after approval of the employer’s Job Check application can migrant workers apply for their Accredited Employer Work Visa, which is the third and final step in the process. Workers must prove that they are suitably qualified for the job offered and that they meet the health and character requirements for temporary entry.
I commend those employers who have applied for accreditation with INZ and have already been approved.
Other employers need to apply quickly if they want to hire migrant workers in 2022.
Ankur Sabharwal is the owner of Visa Matters immigration consultancy. He is a licensed immigration consultant specializing in complex immigration matters. His previous article asked Are you served? By a Kiwi?
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute immigration advice. Individuals should seek personal advice from an immigration consultant or licensed attorney to assess their particular situation.