Immigration adviser Tuariki Delamere warns businesses in for a shock as immigration changes take effect

A new accredited work visa system has opened today, but one expert is warning employers are in for a shock as the application process isn't as simple as it seems.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is already struggling with a backlog of visas, and with employers desperate for staff, immigration adviser and former Minister Tuariki Delamere said there are real problems with getting migrant workers.

From Monday, employers wishing to bring overseas workers into New Zealand on a work visa will need to be accredited by INZ. This includes workers on an Essential Skills work visa after the visa expires in 2023.

The first step of the application process is for an employer to be accredited, which is fairly simple if an employer has no 'red flags'.

An employer must declare that they meet and will continue to meet the requirements of immigration law and employment law, as well as declare the company meets one of the financial requirements. INZ estimates it will take 10 working days to process and complete the application.

However, Delamere said problems arise after the accreditation.

"The real problem is, and most employers are unaware of it, is behind that initial accreditation there's this mountain, this tsunami of compliance," Delamere told AM.

Once accredited, employers will need to advertise the role for two weeks to check there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available for the job.

Delamere said there is a long list of requirements for advertising the job.

"The requirement for advertising is like nothing you've seen before, just massive amounts of detail," he said.

Some of the requirements include minimum and maximum pay, estimated actual earnings, minimum qualifications, location of employment, and minimum hours of work.

Employers must not inflate the minimum qualification and work experience requirements otherwise it will be rejected by INZ.

After the advertisement has been up for two weeks, the employer can then apply for a job check.

Delamere said applying for permission to employ someone comes with a "whole mess of compliance costs". He said these include setting up a structure in the company to bring in the migrant worker and the migrant and some staff members have to undergo Employment Relations Education courses.

"Most employers are unaware of this," Delamere said.

Once an employer gets through those steps, they are given a job token number to hire a migrant worker.

More than 5000 New Zealand employers have already applied for the Accredited Employer Work Visa since May 23.

Delamere is also concerned INZ doesn't have enough staff to process the applications.

"We know they've taken over three years to do the skilled migrants, now they're pushing that aside and they're trying to get through 200,000 people on the one-off residence visa," he said. "But they've only got less than 100 people working on them."

According to Stats NZ, there were over 550,000 enterprises in New Zealand in 2020. Delamere said many companies will be wanting migrant workers, especially after the border being shut due to COVID-19, and to do so they must apply for a visa.

"Where's the staff to do this?" he said.