From 27 November, Immigration New Zealand is introducing significant changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) program. These changes, implemented by Immigration New Zealand, focus on the ‘maximum continuous stay’ for AEWV holders and include modifications to the visa’s length. It’s crucial for both AEWV holders and their employers to understand these changes, as they impact visa duration, application processes, and eligibility for extensions.
Introducing “Maximum Continuous Stay” for the AEWV
From 27 November 2023, Immigration New Zealand are introducing a ‘maximum continuous stay’ for everyone with an AEWV. For people paid at or above the median wage of NZD $29.66 an hour, and employees at the level 4 pay rate for the care workforce sector, the maximum continuous stay will be 5 years.
The maximum visa length of the AEWV is also increasing from 3 years to 5 years for people earning at least the median wage. For people in the care workforce sector paid the level 3 and 4 pay rates, the maximum visa length increases to 3 years.
There will be an option for current AEWV holders to apply for the balance of the longer 5 year or 3 year visa if they are eligible. Their current visa will not extend automatically to the longer length, and must apply to receive the extension. To apply for the length of the longer visa, AEWV holders will need to meet certain criteria.
Employers of current AEWV holders may be able to reuse existing job tokens, without completing a Job Check, to support their worker to apply for the balance of the longer AEWV. Employers will also need to meet certain criteria, such as holding valid accreditation.
Processing Order for Applications
As Immigration New Zealand foresees a significant number of people to be eligible to apply for the 5 year balance, and will direct applications with an existing job token into a queue. Applications will be processed in the order they are received. Applications will only be processed when their current AEWV expiry date is within the next nine months. The applications for associated partners and dependents will also be queued until the AEWV application is decided.
In the unlikely situation that an applicant’s current AEWV expires before their balance application is completed, the holder will be eligible for an interim visa to let them stay and continue their job for up to six months.
Immigration New Zealand has further information on these changes, including guidance on the steps current AEWV holders and their employers need to take to apply for the balance of the longer AEWV.
For any questions regarding this update or any further immigration matters, please contact Arno Arno.Nothnagel@absoluteimmigration.com