New! Immigration Changes on AEWV and Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa
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On 21 June 2023, Immigration New Zealand announced a change to Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) settings and the new settings for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. This aims to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s economic growth and to provide more certainty to migrants and employers.
Accredited Employer Work Visa Changes
The Government is introducing a maximum continuous stay of 5 years on an AEWV, for anyone who is unable to demonstrate that they are on a pathway to residence. People will need to spend 12 months outside of NZ to be eligible to apply for a further AEWV.
From November 2023, the maximum duration of an AEWV will be extended from 3 years to 5 years to align with the introduction of the 5-year maximum continuous stay for AEWV holders.
The AEWV is New Zealand main temporary work visa, which enable business to access to skills to plug short-term gaps. Providing a five-year maximum continuous stay provides longer term certainty for business and clarity to the workers about how long they can work and stay in New Zealand.
Need a refresher on Accredited Employer Work Visa? Visit The Basics – HR Guide to Immigration & 2022 Updates [members-only resources]
Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Visa (SMC Resident Visa)
From 9 October 2023, the current settings will be replaced with a simplified points system that sets a clear skills threshold for residence and offers several ways for people to demonstrate their skill level.
As an overview, the upcoming changes include:
- A new points system – 6 points to apply SMC Resident Visa
- Skilled job or job offer requirements – Clearer criteria and faster pathway to residence for highly skilled people
- The number of applications that will be accepted and processing times (no cap on highly skilled workers and 6-8 weeks processing time for straight-forward applications), and
- Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa
Some visa criteria and conditions are not changing.
The new point system (from 9 October 2023)
You will need 6 points to apply for the SMC Resident Visa.
You can claim from 3 to 6 points from your:
- New Zealand occupational registration
- qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or
- income from your job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand).
You can only claim points from ONE of the above skill indicators, which means you cannot combine points from multiple skill indicators.
You can claim point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand (up to a maximum of 3 points). This can be combined with points from your chosen skill indicator (one of the above).
Some requirements are not changing, including: character requirements, health requirements, Enhlish language requirements, age requirements.
Skilled Migrant Category Interim visas will be granted for people whose current temporary visa expires while the application for the new SMC Resident Visa is being processed. Any conditions that apply to your current visa will apply to your Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa will expire the soonest of:
- 24 months after the start date
- the date your residence visa is approved, or
- if the residence visa application is declined or withdrawn, 2 months after the decision is made on your residence application.
What do these changes mean?
The increase in the maximum duration of AEWV will provide longer term certainty for business. Employers with current AEWV holder on their portfolio should inform the impacted employees of the changes. Consult with and support your employees if they need to apply for a further AEWV.
The new skilled migrant settings will help attract and retain skilled migrants to fill medium-to-long-term skills. Employers must understand the residence pathways to support their highly skilled migrant employees, which enables employers to retain talents in the long run.
Employers and HR professionals should:
- Be informed and stay up-to-date with immigration changes and legislative updates
- Provide robust support to all employees, especially migrant employees
- Update your employment agreements and policies (e.g., recruitment policy) where needed
- Actively check in and consult with migrant employees and make sure everyone is on the same page
- Make sure the organisation culture and people practices are supportive and inclusive, e.g., promote DEI within the worklace, eliminate bias in the hiring process, offer cultural support
- Consider hiring migrants who are in New Zealand, as well as offshore to fill the talent gap
- Seek help from Immigration New Zealand or immigration advisors if they are unsure when hiring migrants