Changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa

On 13 August 2023, Immigration New Zealand announced three changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa that are coming into effect on 27 November 2023:

  1. The introduction of a ‘maximum continuous stay’ for all AEWV holders
  2. Longer visa length for people earning at least the median wage
  3. Longer visa length for eligible care sector workers

Let’s look at these changes in detail.

1. Introduction of a ‘maximum continuous stay’

From 27 November 2023, the maximum continuous stay on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be five years for migrants paid at least the median wage.

That means eligible migrants can spend up to 5 years in New Zealand on one or more Accredited Employer Work Visas. To apply for another AEWV after five years, migrants must spend at least 12 months in a row outside New Zealand if paid:

  • at the median wage or above, or
  • below the median wage in a role other than meat and seafood processing.

Meat and seafood processing workers who earn below the median wage must spend at least four months outside New Zealand before applying for another AEWV.

Despite the regulation about candidates earning at least the median wage, Immigration New Zealand is also introducing maximum continuous stays for sectors exempt from paying the median wage.

RoleMaximum Visa LengthMaximum Continuous StayTime You Must Spend Outside New Zealand
Roles paid at least median wage5 years5 years12 months
Care workforce sector roles paid the level 4 pay rate3 years5 years12 months
Care workforce sector roles paid the level 3 pay rate3 years3 years12 months
Construction and infrastructure sector roles paid below median wage3 years2 years12 months
Transport sector roles paid below median wage3 years5 years12 months
Seasonal snow and adventure tourism sector roles paid below median wage7 months5 years12 months
Tourism and hospitality sector roles paid below median wage2 years2 years12 months
Meat processing sector roles paid below median wage7 months7 months4 months
Seafood processing (onshore) sector roles paid below median wage7 months7 months4 months

What about visa holders on a pathway to residence?

AEWV holders on a pathway to residence will be able to apply for another AEWV without spending 12 months out of New Zealand.

This could include, for example, if the visa holder meets the skills threshold – occupational registration, qualification, or income – but needs more time to complete their skilled work experience.

Immigration New Zealand has said that it’ll provide more information on recognised pathways to residence in the future.

Please note:

The maximum visa length of a role might differ from the maximum continuous stay. If the maximum visa length is shorter, any further AEWVs a migrant applies for can only be approved for up to the length of the maximum continuous stay.

For example, let’s say you’re a bus driver in the transport sector and you’re paid below the median wage. Your maximum visa length will be three years, but your maximum continuous stay is five years. You can thus get a 3-year AEWV, which is the maximum visa length. At the end of the three years, you can apply for a second AEWV – but the visa length can only be up to two years. That’s because your total maximum continuous stay is five years.

2. Longer visa length for roles paid at least the median wage

The AEWV’s maximum length is three years. That increases to five years from 27 November for all applications where the job or job offer is paid at least the median wage.

Existing AEWV holders can apply for another AEWV from 27 November 2023 to receive the balance of five years, provided they:

  • have or had an AEWV approved before 27 November 2023, and
  • have a job or job offer paying at least the median wage at the time of the application for another AEWV.

Migrants who have already spent 12 months outside New Zealand may be eligible for an AEWV for up to five years.

3. Longer visa length for eligible care sector workers earning below the median wage

The maximum length of an AEWV for care workforce workers paid below the median wage is increasing from two to three years. This change applies to all applications approved from 27 November 2023, where the job or job offer pays at least the level 3 pay rate.

This change will have the following advantages:

  • You’ll have enough time to complete the level 4 qualification and move to the higher pay rate and pathway to residence if you earn at the level 3 pay rate. If you move to the level 4 pay rate, you’ll be able to apply for a further AEWV to get the maximum continuous stay of five years.
  • If you earn at the level 4 pay rate, you’ll have enough time to apply for residence after you’ve completed the required two years of work experience.

Need help with your AEWV application?

Do you have an Accredited Employer Work Visa that you’d like to extend? Our licensed advisor can assess your eligibility to apply for a further AEWV and ensure that you’re ready to submit in November. Simply book a consultation call to get started!

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