2019 is seeing major changes being proposed by the Government that will affect the six most commonly utilised work visa categories. This will place obligations on all employers wishing to recruit foreign workers to become accredited under one of three new categories. There will also be four new 'job gateways' introduced through which the employer can recruit. The changes are designed to encourage employers to place more New Zealanders into jobs and to reduce exploitation of migrant workers.

The changes will affect the following types of work visas:

  1. Essentials Skills
  2. Approval in Principle
  3. Work to Residence - Talent (Accredited Employer)
  4. Work to Residence - Long-term Skill Shortage List Occupation
  5. Silver Fern (practical experience)
  6. Silver Fern (job search)

The existing employer accreditation scheme

The most commonly utilised employer accreditation scheme currently is the Talent (Accredited Employer) category. This particular category will no longer be available from August 2019 under the proposed changes.

The proposed changes will also replace the current employer 'Approval in Principle' scheme.

The proposed employer accreditation scheme

There will be three categories under which employers can become accredited as follows:

  1. Standard Accreditation
  2. Labour Hire Accreditation
  3. Premium Accreditation

Different levels of recruitment will require different levels of accreditation and Premium Accreditation will offer more benefits than Standard Accreditation. There are different thresholds in terms of evidence to be provided by the employer for each category.

The proposed job gateways

The 'gateways' through which employers will be able to recruit will be as follows:

  1. Highly-paid threshold
  2. Regional Skills Shortage List (RSSL)
  3. Sector Agreements
  4. Regional Labour Market Test

The 'gateway' through which an employer will recruit will depend on the type, conditions and location of employment being offered.


The changes are likely to be gradually implemented from August 2019 and will almost certainly mean that employers wishing to recruit migrant talent will need to become accredited from that time. It is expected the changes will be fully implemented by June 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.