Hiring foreign workers in New Zealand can be a great way to grow your business, especially if you’re operating in an industry with severe skill shortages.
According to a survey cited by Radio New Zealand, a staggering 90% of businesses are struggling to find staff, with highly skilled roles presenting the greatest challenges to recruit for. The construction industry, in particular, is grappling with significant labor shortages.
Beyond helping local companies address their staffing shortages, overseas workers also play a pivotal role in creating a more diverse workforce and enriching company culture.
However, hiring foreign workers in New Zealand comes with its own challenges, such as conducting a labor market test and applying for a job check.
This article outlines all the factors you need to consider before recruiting and hiring migrants in New Zealand.
Hiring Foreign Workers in New Zealand: What You Need to Know
When you recruit and hire overseas workers, you must ensure you comply with New Zealand’s immigration and employment law.
Under these laws, you bear specific duties and responsibilities.
Read on to find out the exact step to take to find the right candidates for your company and seamlessly get them on board.
Step 1: Complete a Labor Market Test
A labor market test is a procedure by which employers are required to make genuine attempts to fill vacant positions with New Zealanders before hiring from overseas.
Immigration New Zealand must be convinced that no New Zealander is available to fill the role before offering the position to a migrant worker.
In New Zealand, the labor market test requirements are as follows:
- You must advertise the role on a national job listing website or, if applicable, on an industry-specific job listing website
- You must advertise the job for at least 14 days
- You must close the job post no later than 90 days prior to applying for a job check
- The job post must include a detailed job description and key terms of the employment (e.g., working hours, salary range, work location, etc.)
- The job post should exclusively include the qualifications, work experience, and skills essential for effectively performing the tasks associated with the position
Do note that no labor market test is necessary if the compensation for the position is twice the median age or the position is included on the Green List.
Step 2: Apply for a Job Check
You can complete a labor market test via a job check.
The job check has the purpose of ensuring that you have completed a labor market test and that the position pays the market rate, in alignment with the country’s employment laws.
The supporting documents necessary for a job check are as follows:
- Copy of the work contract
- Job description
- Copy of the job post
When applying for accreditation to employ workers under an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), you will pay NZD $610 for a job check application.
Also, if your job check application gets rejected, you will pay NZD $240 for a reconsideration.
Typically, a job check application takes between 2 and 21 business days to process.
Step 3: Identify the Right Visa Type
When hiring foreign workers in New Zealand, you have an array of work visas to choose from. The right category of visa depends on the applicant’s citizenship, skills, and age.
Below are a few options you may choose from:
- Specific purpose work visa – For skilled migrants who have specific skills that will benefit the country (e.g., service specialists, sports players, professional coaches, etc.).
- Straight to residence visa – For individuals working for an accredited employer whose role is on Tier 1 of the Green List. The Green List is a list of occupations provided by New Zealand’s Government that outlines the highly skilled roles where there is a labor shortage.
- Accredited employer work visa (AEWV) – For workers who received an employment offer from an employer who was unable to find New Zealanders to perform the job.
To explore the visa options available for foreign nationals, please refer to https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/explore-visa-options.
However, despite the array of New Zealand work visas accessible, the accredited employer work visa (AEWV) stands out as the most common.
This type of visa has replaced some of the work visas previously available in New Zealand.
For this category of visa (as well as other work visas), employers must secure accreditation from Immigration NZ.
Becoming an Accredited Employer in New Zealand
Especially if you regularly hire foreign workers in New Zealand, you may want to get accredited by Immigration NZ.
Becoming an accredited employer in New Zealand enables you to hire migrants on Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) for up to 3 years.
The minimum requirements to get your company accredited are:
- Pay at least the NZ median wage (unless the position is exempted from this requirement)
- Show evidence of your inability to find New Zealanders to fill the role
To become an accredited employer, you can submit an online application using RealMe, a government authentication and identity verification service.
There are different levels of accreditation you can apply for, depending on your business type and the number of workers you’re looking to hire:
- Standard accreditation for companies hiring up to 5 foreign nationals
- High-volume accreditation for companies hiring 6 or more foreign nationals
- Franchise accreditation for franchise businesses. This type of accreditation does not set any limits as to how many foreign workers to hire
- Controlling third-party accreditation for companies who match migrants with third parties while remaining their primary employer as per the employment contract. This type of accreditation does not set any restrictions concerning the number of workers you can hire
Each type of accreditation requires different fees: NZD $740 for standard accreditation, $1220 for high-volume accreditation, $1980 for franchise accreditation, and $3870 for controlling third-party accreditation.
The processing time for most employer accreditation applications is 10 business days.
To complete the online accreditation form, you will be required to provide the following information:
- New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
- Business Industry Classification (BIC) Code
- IRD Number
To learn more about the requirements and start your application, please refer to this link.
Step 4: Your Future Worker Applies for a New Zealand Work Visa
The application process and requirements for a New Zealand work visa may vary. This depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship and the type of visa they are applying for.
For example, when applying for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), your prospective employee will receive an email from Immigration NZ. The email contains the link to the visa application form.
Next, they will have to apply for the work visa online using the link in the email.
To do so, they must upload a set of required documents.
Some of these documents include:
- Passport-size picture
- Police clearance
- Employment contract
- Copy of job description
- Professional diplomas and certificates
- Proof that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recognizes the applicant’s qualification
- Evidence of previous work experience that is relevant to the job offer
After completing the online application, your prospective employee must pay the visa fee. The cost for an Accredited Employer Work Visa is NZD $750 and the average processing time is 13 days.
For other types of work visas for New Zealand, the application can also be submitted online on the Immigration NZ website.
Hiring Foreign Workers in New Zealand: Final Considerations
Hiring foreign workers in New Zealand can be a great solution to fill gaps in your workforce.
If your company has a regular need for migrant workers, becoming an accredited employer can help you streamline and speed up the hiring process.
As an employer, once you become accredited, you no longer have to show evidence of your inability to find a New Zealander to do the work.
As a result, it becomes easier for you to hire foreign workers on a regular basis.
These individuals will no doubt help you solve your labor shortage and promote diversity in your workplace. However, you can achieve this only if you stay compliant with immigration laws and successfully navigate the visa application process.
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