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Contributed by:
Arunima Dhingra – Director & Licensed Immigration Adviser at Aims Global and Chair of NZAMI.


1. Latest statistics from the Accreditation scheme

  • Here are the key figures for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), as of 7 February 2024:
  • Top 3 nationalities of AEWV holders:
    1. India
    2. Philippines
    3. China
  • Top 3 occupations of AEWV holders:
    1. Builder’s Labourer
    2. Carpenter
    3. Cook


2. AEWV median wage increase paused

  • A new median wage rate of $31.61/hour came into effect on 28 February 2024. But it won’t affect the AEWV scheme – the median wage rate will remain the same (for now) at $29.66/hour. While the government has decided to pause the planned increase for AEWV, it will go ahead for all residence categories indexed to median wage. These are:
    • Skilled Migrant Category
    • Parent Category
    • Green List Straight to Residence
    • Work to Residence visas.
    • Transport workers (excluding bus drivers) applying for the Transport Work to Residence Visa
  • For most AEWV-holding migrants, the rate of (minimum) $29.66/hour will stay. For those covered by the Care workforce sector agreement, this is the Level 3 or above rate. For roles in other sectors and those with median wage exemptions, they have their own wage requirements.


3. Removal of 90-day trial period

As of 29 October 2023, employers can no longer use a 90-day trial period in employment agreements when hiring people on an AEWV. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has stated that employers who implement a trial period in employment agreements will risk having their accreditation cancelled.


4. Introduction of the ‘Worker Protection Act’

The Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Act 2023 came into effect on 6 January 2024. It reinforces immigration and employment regulations to safeguard workers in NZ from exploitation.

The Act has a new requirement for employers to respond to an information request from labour or immigration officials within 10 working days. It also establishes 3 new employment infringement offences in terms of migrant workers, which are:

  • Allowing unauthorized individuals to work
  • Employing someone in violation of visa-related conditions
  • Failing to comply with document provision requirements within the stipulated timeframe

In general, the new infringement offenses align with existing employer obligations, underlining the requirement for employers to hire individuals with valid visas, in accordance with visa conditions, and to provide necessary documents as part of post-decision checks under the Accredited Employer scheme.


5. Post-accreditation checks and Accreditation renewals

INZ is required to undertake post-accreditation checks on at least 16% of accredited businesses in each year. The stats as of 16 February 2024 are below:

  • As INZ increases its reach for conducting these checks and with subsequent accreditation renewals starting from July 2024, it is important for accredited businesses to pay attention to their obligations and assess whether they have adhered to the declarations and promises made in their initial accreditation application.
  • We expect INZ to check evidence that businesses have done what they promised they would do as accredited employers. These include providing newly-hired AEWV migrants with settlement support, giving them paid time to complete Employment New Zealand’s (ENZ) online modules, and ensuring key staff members complete ENZ’s online employer modules
  • Further details around this are also presently being asked for at the Job Check stage currently. Current Job Check verification activities include interviews with applicants and employers, increased requests for bank statements, proof of settlement support provided by employers, organisation charts, and why New Zealanders were declined, to name a few.


6. Increase in Job Check processing time

In November last year, INZ modified its assessment process for Employer Accreditation and Job Checks.

  • This involves more information requests from employers to verify job vacancies and support for planned hires, leading to longer processing times for these applications. The timeframe for Job Checks can vary from 10 days to 6 weeks.
  • Along with these processing timeframes, INZ has set up an escalation process as well. If you have an application that hasn’t yet been allocated and requires urgent allocation, you can get it prioritised. However, the bar for this escalation remains quite high.


7. Suspension of accreditation without needing investigation

INZ now has the power to suspend accreditation for employers without the need for a formal investigation. This can occur when there are indications that an employer may be in breach of specific immigration and employment standards


8. Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa

The Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV) is the pathway for migrants that claim to have suffered exploitation and can prove it.

  • This visa has a validity of up to six months, with the allowance of applying for an extension of up to another six months.
  • This total of 12 months on an MEPV, together with INZ’s ability to suspend an employer’s accreditation without an investigation open, can put businesses at a disadvantage. So, it is important that businesses are aware of this change.

Reach out to us to learn how we can help you navigate these circumstances.


9. Increase in maximum continuous stay on an AEWV

Effective 27 November 2023, the Government introduced a maximum continuous stay of five years on an AEWV. Individuals who can show a clear pathway to residence may be able to get longer. Care workforce (those paid at least the level 3 pay rate) AEWVs will be extended from two years to three years.

What ‘maximum continuous stay’ means is that an individual can spend a maximum of five years on an AEWV – not on a single AEWV but on all types of AEWV collectively). If they want to apply for another AEWV, they will need to spend at least 12 months continuously outside NZ first.

Those that have already spent some time in NZ on an AEWV can get the balance of 5 years – the caveat is they can only apply for it 9 months before their visa expiry date. Employers will not need to apply for a further Job Check for the role and can reuse the existing job token, if:

  • Your employee had an AEWV on 26 November 2023
  • You offer them the same role, in the same location, and
  • You pay them at least the amount listed in their current AEWV conditions


10. Other salient updates

  • Changes have been made to how INZ assesses character for temporary visa applications. A new policy section has been added for applicants who did not declare character issues it in their applications.
  • 17 new roles will be added to the Green List from March 2024.
  • 7 new roles will be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement from March 2024.
  • Judicial warrants are now required for out-of-hours AEWV compliance visits.
  • The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap will be increased by 500 places for the 2023/24 season.
  • Increased minimum pay and sick leave for RSE workers came into effect on 1 October 2023. Employers must now pay their RSE workers the minimum wage of $24.97 per hour. They will receive 10 days paid sick leave.

Arunima Dhingra is an established immigration adviser in New Zealand. As the Founder and Director of Aims Global (, she has been providing immigration advice and support to businesses and migrants for over 19 years. She is also the Chair for NZ Association of Migration and Investment (NZAMI), NZ’s longest standing professional body for the immigration industry. She is the founder of GratitudeNZ, a charity aimed at empowering the next generation and breaking the cycle of child poverty in NZ.


Upcoming Webinars & Events

Aims Global runs regular webinars for employers, HR professionals, and recruiters throughout the year where we simplify immigration policies and key updates and provide handy tips to help better navigate the world of immigration. Register here for the upcoming webinar on 9 April 2024 or the whole series and stay up-to-date with immigration policies important for your people and your business.

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