—Removal of 90-day Trial Periods for accredited employer work visas—

—Tightening of assessments for accreditation and job check applications—

After a year of conducting very little verification when processing employer accreditations and job check applications, Immigration NZ have been in the spotlight in the last month after a whistle blower came forward alleging that INZ were not doing the verification checks they should have been doing.  At the same time, hundreds of migrants were found to be in New Zealand without the jobs they had paid thousands of dollars for – a practice the accreditation scheme was supposed to stop.  Immigration NZ have now been forced to look at their practices and make urgent changes.

Recent changes announced by INZ include:

– No more 90-day trial periods permitted for accredited employer work visas
Although this is contradictory to current employment law which allows employers with fewer than 20 staff to use 90-day trial periods.  INZ have advised that any job check that includes an employment agreement with a 90-day trial period will be declined.  This includes job check applications that have been submitted, but does not impact those already approved.

– Longer processing timeframes for accreditation and job check applications
Immigration NZ will be conducting additional verification and asking that all employers who need to recruit multiple vacancies provide additional evidence, such as organisational charts and contracts for ongoing work.  Job check processing times have now blown out to 56 days, according to the INZ website.  This puts stress on employers who need staff urgently and migrants with visas expiring soon because a new visa application cannot be made until accreditation and job checks are approved.

It is more important than ever that applications are done correctly and thoroughly to avoid additional delays from verification and questions by INZ.

Triangular accredited employers (who employ migrants to work at other businesses’ premises) will need to provide evidence of their financial viability when applying and renewing their accreditation
Triangular employers recruiting migrants for the construction sector also need to ensure that New Zealanders make up at least 35% of their workforce, instead of the current 15%.

While we absolutely agree that migrant exploitation needs to be strictly penalised and prevented, the accreditation process is becoming an impossible process for many employers and migrants due to the extended processing timeframes.

These changes appear to be overreactions by Immigration New Zealand to problems cause by a small proportion of employers who exploited the flaws in the current system.

There are very good reasons why the 90-day trial period is permitted in NZ employment law, allowing both employers and employees to ensure the company and role are appropriate for both parties.

It is also questionable whether unilaterally adding accreditation standards for accredited employers is justifiable, especially since such standards will bind employers with existing accreditation to standards that they were unaware of prior to applying for accreditation.

Please contact us now if you need assistance with your accreditation, job check, or work visa and we would be happy to help you through the process.

Marie Hunt

Licensed Immigration Adviser