Immigration Accreditation and beyond - What HR professionals must look out for
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Now that the wheels of Immigration NZ’s not-so-new Accreditation model are turning well and business seems to be running as usual in the immigration landscape, it is crucial that HR managers keep abreast of what lies ahead of the accreditation and job check approvals, what their obligations as an accredited employer are and what pitfalls to watch out for. Here is a quick read put together for HR managers and professionals.
1. Post Accreditation – Do you know your obligations?
If you are an Accredited employer, are you aware of your post-accreditation obligations?
These are placed on you by Immigration New Zealand and need to be completed within 30 days of your Accredited Employer Work Visa holders starting their role. When you submitted your Accreditation application, you made a set of commitments to INZ, via declarations in the application form. Please note that once the Accredited Employer Work Visa is approved:
· Settlement information: The employer is required to provide all AEWV holders ‘settlement support information’ within 30 days of their employment starting. This is best given to them immediately after their work visa is approved. The information provided must include details around cost of living in NZ, public transport options, how to obtain IRD number, health services, relevant community groups, industry hazards, relevant trainings etc. Failure to complete this on time, risks your employer accreditation status.
· E-learning modules for employees: All accredited employers must provide sufficient time during paid work hours for AEWV employees to complete all of Employment New Zealand’s online employee modules within one month of beginning employment. There are eight e-learning modules offered by Employment New Zealand that help a migrant understand their rights and responsibilities in NZ. Employers are obligated to provide AEWV holders with sufficient time for this, but it is the AEWV holder’s responsibility to complete the modules.
· E-learning modules for your staff members: Everyone who makes recruitment decisions within your business (for example hiring managers, HR managers), must complete Employment New Zealand’s online employer modules once within every accreditation period.
If and when Employment New Zealand updates or releases new employment modules, INZ encourages employers to provide AEWV holders paid time to complete these updated modules and to complete these themselves.
INZ has confirmed that they will check whether an employer has met these requirements via random post accreditation checks and during renewal of accreditation applications.
2. Job checks – A lot more than just advertising and form filling
When it gets to the Job check stage, which is when an application is made to INZ to get the role approved so that you can recruit a migrant, most businesses will focus on what the form asks for and meet the advertising requirements (where applicable). But a job check application has a lot more than that.
There are two key areas to look out for in this stage -
· ‘Future fit’
If you are a business looking to hire for multiple vacancies under one job check, you may have only found one candidate and still be looking for others to fill the remaining vacancies. In such a situation, you could end up identifying candidates who would be perfect in the role with a bit of hand holding and may not meet the exact requirements listed in the job check at the time of joining. Or you may wish to hire someone based on potential rather than experience. If the Job Check is not done with ‘Future fit’ candidates in mind, then the candidate you find might not meet the job check requirements leaving you with two options - 1) do a new job check or 2) find a new candidate. And none of these options are ideal!
· Employment Agreements
The employment agreement (EA) template you submit during the Job Check, is the agreement INZ approves for your business to use for candidates who apply for the work visa. We come across several cases on a daily basis where the EA submitted with the job check differs to the one issued to the candidate applying for AEWV.
The most common discrepancies we come across include:
o Reimbursement / bonding declared as ‘No’ in the job check but applied in the individual EA given to the candidate - If your EA (submitted during Job check) had no clause on bonding and the job check has been approved with no provision for bonding / clawback of costs, then introducing a reimbursement or clawback provision for any costs you have front footed for a candidate’s work visa / relocation etc. at or after the work visa stage, is not acceptable by INZ.
o Different working hours from those declared in the job check – It will be problematic if the hours given in the individual EA to the visa holder vary from maximum or minimum hours stipulated in the EA submitted with job check.
In summary, a job check approval forms the mould for a job - one that the work visa holder must fit into and provide qualifications/ work experience for.
3. Accredited Employer Work Visa – The final step of the process
You are now an accredited employer, have done the job checks, gone to market, and spent time and resources to find that perfect candidate. Are you going to leave the most important part of the equation - the Accredited Employer Work Visa process - to the candidate to manage? Here is why this is risky.
· Do you know if your candidate (and their family member’s) background is ‘immigration friendly’?
Now that you have found the right candidate (via your recruitment team or the hiring manager), do you know if the candidate has the right immigration background to be able to secure a work visa? What if the candidate’s background is all good, but their family member who was going to be traveling along with them to NZ, has an issue. For example, their child has a medical condition, or the partner has a character issue that may lead to issues with their visa or in severe situations, not allow for a visa grant altogether. In circumstances like these, the candidate may decline your offer. If this happens much later in the process - say after the offer has been accepted, the job check has been approved and the candidate’s work visa process has begun - it can lead to a waste of several resources and make it unnecessarily challenging with the hiring process having to re-commence.
This is why it is crucial that you as a business have a seamless way of checking a candidate’s (and their family’s) immigration background before that final offer is made, ensuring that the visa process will deliver a positive outcome.
Since the immigration industry in NZ is regulated and one must be appropriately qualified and authorized before they can provide advice and check if someone’s background is ‘immigration friendly’, this work can only be carried out by a licensed immigration adviser, a lawyer or an exempt individual.
· Do you know the laws of the country you are recruiting from?
Different countries have different laws, especially if their workers are looking at moving internationally. Having a solid understanding of the laws of the country where you intend to hire from before you start the process is crucial. For example, we regularly encounter businesses hiring from the Philippines, but they do not know about additional requirements the business needs to fulfil before their worker can fly from the Philippines to NZ. Talk to us today if you are in this situation.
· Information about moving to NZ
As we know, a journey is as important as the destination. So, when a candidate is applying for their work visa and doing this daunting task on their own, the experience can get overwhelming and confusing for them.
Some common scenarios we come across on a regular basis that are important for HR managers to be aware of, are listed below:
Candidates applying for their work visas do not know what details were in the job check and/or job advert apart from those that they see auto filled in their AEWV application. Regularly, we come across cases where the candidate does not meet the requirements listed in the job check or if they do, they do not have the right documents to prove it. Documentation to prove work experience and qualification requirements can vary from country to country.
Most times candidates with a family would like to travel to NZ as a unit. A candidate’s decision to come to NZ can be largely dependent on when and whether the spouse and kids can travel along. Have you thought about who will assist with the family’s visa applications and provide advice on if the family can travel together as a unit, when the kids can start school, how long the visa process can take, can the partner work in NZ or not, where things can go wrong or what to look out for.
Employers allowing candidates to manage their own visa process can potentially encounter problems when INZ has delays in processing and a project in NZ is starting soon for which the candidate must be here to help (as an instance). In such a situation, an escalation to INZ may be needed and this is not something a candidate can be expected to run with on their own.
We have a range of topics that our senior licensed advisers write on regularly. This is to offer clarity and simplify the constantly evolving complex immigration policies. Here are some handy reading resources to understand this complex world of immigration better.
· You all know that the current requirement for employer accreditation only applies to those businesses that are hiring migrants on an employer supported work visa. But did you know that from 31 May 2023, this requirement will include most partners of Accredited Employer Work Visa holders (AEWV).
Read more here - https://www.aimsglobal.co.nz/immigration-news/partner-work-visa-changes-from-may-2023-what-this-means-for-employers
· We know that the median wage increased to $29.66/hr on 27 Feb 2023. But do you how this affects your business and why you need to know about this? Read about this here - www.aimsglobal.co.nz/immigration-news/impact-of-median-wage-change-on-businesses-and-migrants
· Are you a business that is directly working on the recovery in the North Island from the cyclone damage? If yes, did you know that a special new category of work visa called ‘Recovery Visa’ allows you to bring workers into NZ without the business being accredited? Read more here - www.aimsglobal.co.nz/immigration-news/faqs-recovery-visa
We run webinars for employers, HR professionals and recruiters throughout the year where we simplify immigration policies, key updates and provide handy tips to be able to better navigate the world of immigration. Register here for an individual webinar or the series and stay up to date with immigration policies important for your people and your business.
Arunima Dhingra, CEO Aims Global & Principal Licensed Immigration Adviser
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 19 years. In 2017 she won NZAMI’s prestigious Immigration Adviser/Lawyer of the Year Award as well as the Community Outreach Award. For the last few years, Arunima has been serving as a Board Director for NZAMI - NZ’s largest association of immigration advisers and lawyers - and is also Chairing the Policy Committee for the association for the third year. Arunima is also the founder of GratitudeNZ (gratitudenz.org) - a charity aimed at empowering the next generation and breaking the cycle of child poverty in NZ.