Advice

2021 law changes to NZ temporary work visas

If you hire migrants you will need to be prepared for the new employer-led, 3-check visa application system. NZ is transitioning from six temporary work visas to a new Accredited Employer Work visa, which will commence November 1st 2021.


From 1 November, before you can hire a migrant from overseas who needs a visa, you will need to meet the 3-check requirements: 
  1. apply for accreditation
  2. apply for a job check to make sure the role you want to fill cannot be done by New Zealanders, and
  3. request a migrant worker to apply for a visa.

What is involved in NZ’s 2021 visa law change transition period?

The following employer policies are closing to new and renewing applications on 30 June 2021:

  • Accredited Employer (Talent – Accredited Employer).
  • Labour Hire Accreditation (Essential Skills).
  • Approval in Principle (Essential Skills) – this does not include approval in principle for other policies, including AIP for foreign crew of fishing vessels.

If you want to be able to use these visa statuses up to 1 November 2021, you should apply by 30 June 2021, and also consider the processing timeframes.

Employers who don’t apply for these statuses by 30 June 2021 will still be able to support work visa applications under the Essential Skills work visa category, up until 31 October 2021.


The new employer-assisted work visa replaces these 6 work visas:
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

Details of the 3-check requirements:
Step 1. You will need to be accredited

There are two accreditations to apply for depending on the number of migrants you wish to hire.

  • standard accreditation — for employers who want to hire 5 or fewer migrant workers, and
  • high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to hire 6 or more migrant workers.
Step 2. You must pass a job check

The job check will confirm the job pays the required market rate, the terms and conditions comply with employment laws, and you have done a labour market test if required – this includes advertising the role to New Zealanders and confirming there are no New Zealanders available to do the job in that region.

Jobs paying 200% of the median wage and those on skills shortage lists do not need a labour market test.

Step 3. Your potential employee meets the  Migrant Worker check

The migrant worker check is where the migrant worker applies for a visa. They must show they meet character, identity and health requirements, and have the skills to do the job before being granted a visa. 


If you have any questions on how this may impact your future hiring process please get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email [email protected]


28 April 2021.


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