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Immigration Update - December 2021

A number of major immigration changes have taken place over the last two years. While some of the changes (like the upcoming employer accreditation) clearly target employers of migrant workers, others (like the one-off 2021 Resident Visa) target the migrant workers themselves.

As a result, it may be difficult for migrant workers to understand how the different policy changes fit together, and what the ramifications of each update could mean for them.

After all, there are many opportunities for employers to learn about these changes - from webinars to newsletters, and even in-person events. Yet unless individual migrants choose to engage with a Licensed Immigration Adviser or Lawyer or other with verified sources of information, they may find themselves at a loss.

Therefore we have chosen to use this article to answer some of the most common immigration related questions impacting employment from individual migrant workers. We hope that our answers below will help explain what these changes mean on a more personal level for your visa holder employees.

  • Upcoming Employer Accreditation and the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)
  • The one-off 2021 Resident Visa
  • Recently announced 2021 Interim Visa


Employer Accreditation & ‘AEWV’

On Friday, 26 November 2021, Immigration New Zealand presented a webinar with information regarding the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme which starts 04 July 2022. This new system makes employer accreditation a mandatory step before a migrant can be hired on the "Accredited Employer Work Visa" (AEWV). This date also marks the end of Essential Skills as we know it.

The timeline leading up to this policy going live:

  • 9 May 2022: Applications open for Employer Accreditation.
  • 9 May 2022: Applications open for Job Check.
  • 03 July 2022: Applications close under the Essential Skills Work Visa policy.
  • 04 July 2022: Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy goes live.

Whereas many employers know aspects of this system already, INZ shared new information on the job check stage which had not been previously released which can be accessed here.

FAQs on this topic:

What is the AEWV?
The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will replace most employer-supported work visa categories such as Essential Skills, as well as the now closed (to new applications) Talent (Accredited Employer) and Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) work visa from 4 July 2022. And, in order to get this visa, your employer must be accredited by Immigration New Zealand.

When does Employer Accreditation become mandatory?
To be able to support work visas, employers need to get accredited by 4 July 2022. Applications to apply for this accreditation open on 9 May 2022.

How will the upcoming mandatory employer accreditation affect me?
If you are not on an employer-supported work visa (not looking to be on one post 4 July 2022), then the upcoming employer accreditation scheme will have no impact on you. However if you are on an employer-supported work visa, or are seeking your employer’s support for obtaining a work visa after 4 July 2022, then this information is critical to your ability to obtain a visa.

If you have an employer supported work visa granted already then you are able to continue working for your current employer regardless of their accreditation status, for the duration of your current visa. However, once your current visa expires on or after 4 July 2022 and you need to apply for your next (employer-supported) work visa, your employer will only be able to support you if they are accredited. At this time, you will have to apply for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

Does my employer need to meet any requirement other than be accredited to support my AEWV?
Yes, there are specific requirements for some employers (such as ones that fall under high volume accreditation) which they have to show at job check stage. Advertising evidence (when required) or whether the employment is acceptable - this is all checked at the job stage. Your employer will have to meet these, even after they are accredited.

What if my employer does not get their accreditation approved?
That’s ok until your work visa is still valid. But once this visa expires (if on or after 4th July 2022), you cannot apply for an AEWV with a non-accredited employer. You will then, in this case, need to change your job to work for an accredited employer only.

Does my employer still need to advertise for the role even if they are accredited?
Yes, a range of criteria apply - whether you earn below median wage, above median wage or at 200% of median wage. This influences advertising requirements. It also depends on whether your job is in the city or the regions. Further information is available here.


2021 Resident Visa (21RV) & 2021 Interim Visa (21IV)

This is a new category recently announced and it is expected that about 165,000 migrants will be eligible for this. Key dates :

  • 1 December 2021 - submissions opened for for Phase 1
  • 1 March 2022 - 31 July 2022 open for submissions for Phase 2

Late last week, INZ also announced a 2021 Interim Visa (21IV) which sits off the back of 2021 Resident Visa policy. If your employee has applied for a 2021 Resident Visa and their current visa expires while they are waiting for an outcome of their residence application, they can get the 21IV to stay in New Zealand. It’s automatically granted and does not need to be applied for. 21IV essentially freezes their visa conditions for the next 12 months.

There are some issues with this policy and a poll recently conducted on our social media with 240 participants stated that 66.3% of people will not take up the interim visa option. Some examples of these issues:

  • While on an interim visa, you cannot submit another type of application - this means if there is no opportunity to change roles, or employers until residence is approved.
  • If by any chance residence is declined, the migrant will have 2 months to leave the country - as they will not be able to apply for another visa to legally stay in NZ.

This would be a great opportunity for some migrants but inhibitive for others - just depends on each individual’s circumstances.

FAQs on this topic:

I am eligible to apply for 21RV under the Scarce/ Skilled criteria. Am I able to change roles between now and my application date?
Yes, so long as you were in a Scarce role or earned at/above $27/hour on 29/9/2021 and you will be in a role on the Scarce list or earn at/above $27/hour on the day you submit your application, you should be able to change roles and still be eligible to apply.

Can I switch the requirement while the RV 2021 application is in processing? e.g. apply with scarce but then switch to settled during processing?
Immigration officers will first assess whether someone is settled, if a person doesn’t meet the settled criteria they will be assessed under skilled or scarce. To be eligible under skilled or scarce applicants must meet the requirements on the 29 September 2021 and on the date they apply. They can switch between skilled and scarce but not settled.

Do I need to apply for 21IV?
No INZ will automatically grant this when your current visa expires.

Can I change jobs or roles while on 21IV?
It will depend on what your 21IV conditions are. If you hold a post study open work visa, your 21IV conditions will be open and so, you can change roles and/ jobs.

If you hold an Essential Skills or a Work to Residence Visa, the conditions that are on that visa will continue. This means that you will remain in the same position, with the same employer and in the same location during the tenure of your interim visa.

You cannot apply for another visa type or vary the conditions while on an interim visa. However, if you want to have the flexibility to change jobs, you must maintain a valid temporary work visa. You can also do a variation of conditions and apply for different visas while on a temporary visa. None of this is possible on an interim visa.

Must I take the 2021 Interim Visa option?
No you don't have to. Some people may be better off applying for a further temporary visa depending on their circumstances.

What happens if my 21RV gets declined?
If your 21Rv gets declined you will have appeal rights to apply to the Immigration Protection Tribunal. However, if your 21RV is declined while you are on a 21 Interim Visa, then it will expire 2 months from the date of the decline decision. You will become unlawful after 2 months unless you leave the country.

More FAQs on 21RV can be found here.


Let This Article be a Guide for Your Staff

Although we hope this article equips you with the answers needed to respond confidently to your employees' questions, we do encourage you to share this article with your employees directly.

If you and/or your employees continue to have questions about the changing immigration landscape, please reach out to us. Whether you are interested in a group training session, or even an educational webinar, our team is here to help simplify the complexities of immigration for your business and your people.


Arunima Dhingra, CEO Aims Global & Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407

Arunima 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 15 years. In 2017 she won New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment’s prestigious Immigration Adviser/Lawyer of the Year Award as well as the Community Outreach Award. Arunima is now serving as a Board Director for NZAMI - NZ’s largest association of immigration advisers and lawyers - for the fifth year in a row and is Chairing the Policy Committee for the association for the thi