Do you regularly recruit overseas workers?

It’s clear there will be significant changes to New Zealand’s immigration policies under the new Government. It is unclear whether the employer accreditation scheme will be affected. There are substantial benefits in accreditation for employers who need to regularly recruit overseas workers. Employers who wish to apply for accreditation should act quickly to take advantage of the current policy.

An accredited employer is able to employ multiple overseas workers for an initial period of 30 months to work in the employer’s core area of business activity. Other benefits include:

  • an accredited employer does not have to complete a labour market test before employing an overseas worker i.e., they do not have to first advertise the role and confirm that no New Zealanders are available to do the work;
  • employees who hold work visas under the scheme have a pathway to residency – they may apply for residency after 24 months of working for an accredited employer;
  • less documentation for visa applications; and
  • faster processing timeframes.

An accredited employer must have direct responsibility for the workers whose visas it supports and also for their work output.

To qualify for accreditation, the employer must satisfy Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) that:

  • the employer is in a sound financial position;
  • the employer has human resources policies and processes of a high standard;
  • the employer has good workplace practices; and
  • the employer has a demonstrable commitment to training and employing New Zealanders.

Although accreditation has many benefits, it is not a blanket approval to recruit any overseas person. To be eligible to be employed by an accredited employer, an overseas person must:

  • be aged 55 years or under;
  • meet immigration health and character requirements; and
  • be a bona fide applicant intending to comply with their visa conditions.

 

Offers of employment by an accredited employer to an overseas persons must be:

  • for genuine employment in New Zealand in the capacity or position stated;
  • for employment in the accredited employer’s core area of business activity, and for which the accredited employer will have direct responsibility for the employee’s work output;
  • for a position with a minimum salary of NZ$55,000 (based on a 40 hour week and not including any employment-related benefits like uniforms or medical insurance);
  • for at least 24 months;
  • for full time employment i.e., amounting to, on average, at least 30 hours per week;
  • current at the time the work visa application is assessed by INZ, and at the time the overseas person is granted a multiple entry visa;
  • compliant with relevant employment law in New Zealand, including a written employment agreement that contains the necessary statutory specified terms and conditions, meets holiday and special leave requirements and other minimum statutory criteria and occupational safety and health obligations; and
  • when submitted to INZ, accompanied by evidence of full or provisional registration (or of eligibility for registration) if registration is required by law for that person to take up the offer.

Earlier this year INZ introduced the capacity to conduct audits of accredited employers during accreditation periods to ensure they continue to meet requirements throughout the term of accreditation.

Accreditation may be revoked or not renewed if:

  • following an audit, an immigration officer is not satisfied that the requirements of accreditation continue to be met;
  • an employer fails to comply with a request for further information or records by INZ within a reasonable specified timeframe;
  • INZ considers an employer’s conduct has created an unacceptable risk to the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration or employment laws; and
  • an employer supplies false or misleading information.

Importantly, employers whose conduct results in their accreditation being revoked or not being renewed may put at risk the ability of employees holding work visas under the scheme to subsequently apply for residence.

If you require assistance in preparing an application for accreditation, our Business Team is available to assist.