News & Thinking

Immigration Alert: Changes to Accredited Employer Scheme

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Anthony Harper

Immigration New Zealand has announced significant changes to the accredited employer scheme.

What is the accredited employer scheme? Why is it helpful?

Accredited employer status makes it much easier for an employer to recruit migrant workers.

An employee can obtain a work-to-residence visa, without the employer showing it could not find a New Zealander for the position. Also, the employee does not need to prove qualifications or work experience.

The only requirements are that the employee is being paid a minimum of $55,000 per annum, based on a 40-hour week. The employee also needs to meet any professional registration requirements, as well as the general visa requirements of good character and good health.

What are the other benefits of the scheme?

The employee can easily qualify for residence after two years. There is no need to complete an English language test. Also, he or she does not need to prove qualifications or work experience. Therefore, it is a great retention tool for many New Zealand employers.

Also, employees who earn $90,000 can get a permanent residence visa, after two years, instead of the standard residence visa. A permanent resident visa has no travel conditions, so the employee can travel freely in and out of New Zealand for the rest of his or her life.

What is changing?

The minimum salary level, for a work visa, will increase from $55,000 per annum to $79,560 per annum.

Also, employees will no longer be able to obtain permanent residence after two years. Although they can still obtain standard residence.

Finally, Immigration New Zealand will only grant employers accredited status for two years, rather than five years, which they had the ability to do in the past.

When do the changes come into effect?

7 October.

What about employees who already have work-to-residence visas?

They will not be affected. Their visas will be the same.

They can qualify for residence, after the two year period, as long as they continue to earn $55,000 per annum, based on a 40-hour week.

Also, employees earning at least $90,000, who already have the work-to-residence visas, can still obtain permanent resident visas.

What about employees who have not yet applied?

If an employee has not yet applied for a work-to-residence visa, and he or she is earning between $55,000 and $79,560 per annum, we strongly recommend that the employee applies before 7 October.

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