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The Big Immigration Reset - Looking ahead

Those of us working in the immigration industry have been expecting changes for so long that it is incredible to reflect on how much has happened within the last month. Just two weeks ago, Immigration NZ made major announcements regarding the official launch of the Accredited Employer Work Visa and mandatory Employer Accreditation, including official dates. In addition on October 31, we saw the end of two popular Work to Residence visa categories.

In order to make sense this we spoke with industry experts about these policy shifts, the changes that are still to come within the immigration landscape and the growing talent crisis. To ensure you and your organisations remain aware and up to date, we have broken down these changes - and their impact - below, followed by five key takeaways.

Accredited Employer Work Visa - Key dates

  • 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.

Learn more about the details and implications of the upcoming Accredited Employer Work Visa here

Work to Residence Visa Holders

  • Employers cannot support new applications under Talent (Accredited Employer) and Long-Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) as these categories closed on 31 October 2021.
  • Migrants who currently hold one of these visas will not be affected by the changes, as long as they meet their visa conditions and their visa remains valid.
  • Work to Residence (WTR) visa holders who have applied for a Residence from Work (RFW) visa may apply for a subsequent WTR visa after 31 October 2021, if they meet the requirements under the relevant category.

Previously Accredited Employers

If you were a previously accredited employer and your accreditation expired after 31 March 2021, you are now able to support workers already holding a Talent work visa. Previously a talent work visa holder could only move to another accredited employer, unless the change was for reasons beyond their control, for example, in the event of a redundancy. We will be sharing further information on this topic in our article next month.

Following 18 months of closed borders, heightened travel restrictions, lockdown fatigue, application backlog with INZ, MIQ bottleneck and a general feeling of uncertainty, it came as no surprise that business confidence is low at present. In a recent survey by the Auckland Business Chamber, 90% of SME Business owners reported significant erosion in equity, yet 80% of businesses say they are determined to survive - a very real snapshot of the current mental state of employers and business owners.

Therefore certainty in the immigration space, like what the announcements outlined above provide, is a welcome change allowing employers to look after their migrant staff and get on with planning.


The following five areas should remain a priority for the foreseeable future:

  1. Look after yourself and your people! Covid fatigue is beginning to show itself quite clearly, as a rising number of people have reported burn out, stress and fatigue. Your migrant employees, who are unable to plan to see their loved ones overseas, could feel an even greater level of frustration.
  2. Talent retention is critical at this point in time. The Government has signalled that borders will only begin to loosen in 2022. Although they have indicated that priority might be given to those holding visas for NZ - allowing many of your employees stuck overseas to return -  it is unknown when this will happen.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the immigration pathways available for your people in the near future. From 1st November 2021 and until 3rd July 2022, the Essential Skills Work Visa reigns supreme in the employer supported work visa space. So it is crucial that HR managers are equipped to handle this category - from streamlined criteria to labour market test and the role of ANZSCO. Ensure that your migrant employees adhere to their visa conditions and proactively mitigate any risks.
  4. The Other Critical Worker pathway is available to any employer who can demonstrate an urgent need to bring a specific overseas worker into NZ. The qualifying threshold remains high but success rates have gradually climbed over the last 12 months, meaning that this could now be a viable option for many employers.  Read more about this category to determine whether this is a pathway you may wish to explore further.
  5. Prepare for the changes that are coming next year. Immigration in NZ is going through an unprecedented reset. 2022 is lining up to be a year full of immigration policy shifts for employers and their HR teams, including mandatory employer accreditation, a new employer-led work visa, a large-scale one off residence scheme impacting many but perhaps not all of your employees, and the gradual re-opening of borders. Begin preparing now so you don’t get caught out by the new employer led system!

The only constant in the immigration space is change and with changes, come questions and confusion. It feels appropriate to leave you with a well known proverb befitting our current state of affairs - “He aha te mea nui o te ao? he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata” “What is the most important thing in the world? it is the people, it is the people, it is the people”


About the Authors...

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 NZAMI’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 third year.

Ritika Singh, Head of Corporate Division
Ritika has over a decade of sales and business development experience in a variety of sectors in NZ. A migrant herself, Ritika leads the corporate division for Aims Global Immigration, helping employers and recruiters navigate the increasingly complex world of immigration. Ritika also founded sales consulting firm, Ri-Think Ltd in 2020, specialising in B2B sales strategy and customer growth. Alongside this, Ritika is currently the co-chair and trustee of The Period Place, a trustee for Life Education Trust Rodney and a committee member for 10x10 Philanthropy Auckland.