How to overcome the main challenges when preparing an AEWV application

Licensed Immigration Adviser Andy O’Dell talks us through the process of recruiting migrant candidates using the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and highlights three key areas for employers to be aware of.


Changes to immigration rules lead to greater employer responsibility 

In 2022, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) made changes to its rules regarding visas supported by employment. The changes increased employers’ responsibilities when candidates submitted visa applications to INZ. Prior to the changes, a migrant candidate usually needed only a couple of things from an employer, including a job offer, a completed INZ form, and possibly a Labour Market Test (LMT). The candidate, who shouldered 90% of the responsibility, then made their visa application to INZ, with time being the only cost to an employer.   

Following changes to the current Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) system, the responsibilities are now shared equally between the employer and candidate. This has resulted in challenges to employers unfamiliar with this level of candidate support.  Employers also now incur costs when becoming an accredited employer, including for subsequent applications to INZ for approval to hire a migrant into a role, a process called the Job Check. 

Immigration adviser specialists in the engineering and construction sector, O’Dell Immigration, support employers throughout this process and can help when things go wrong. Below we share three key areas for employers to be aware of when supporting a migrant candidate through the AEWV process. 

AEWV process 

Before explaining how to support migrant candidates through this process, a quick reminder on the AEWV process in simple terms:  

  • Employer becomes accredited with INZ 
  • Employer offers a job to a migrant 
  • Migrant accepts
  • Employer submits an online application to INZ to employ the migrant – the Job Check
  • The Job Check is approved by INZ  
  • Employer sends an invitation to the migrant to make a visa application – the Job Token  
  • Migrant applies for an AEWV 
  • Application approved 
  • Migrant starts work 

The Green List - when is an engineer not an engineer? 

This is a common area of confusion within the AEWV process. As a part of the AEWV structure, INZ established the ‘Green List’, which contains roles in demand across New Zealand. The Green List provides employers of roles on this list a pathway to residence, and many engineering and construction roles are included.   

Each role on the list includes criteria that applicants must satisfy to make a successful AEWV application as a Green List applicant. However, trouble is often incurred when an employer submits a Job Check for a job title on the Green List. When doing so, the employer is invited to tick the box acknowledging that the application made under the Job Check meets the Green List criteria. Unfortunately, many employers are unaware that their migrant candidate does not meet the Green List criteria for that job title. For example, this includes a civil engineer candidate with a four-year bachelor degree in civil engineering that is graded by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as a Level 7, and 10 years of practical experience. The Green List requirements for a civil engineer are:  

  • A Washington Accord accredited (initial) engineering degree, or  
  • A Bachelor of Engineering with Honours (NZQF Level 8), or  
  • A qualification at NZQF Level 7 or higher, with a letter from Engineering New Zealand certifying that the degree and any further learning meet the benchmark requirements towards Chartered Professional Engineer professional status in New Zealand, or 
  • NZ registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer by Engineering New Zealand. 

In this example, the civil engineer candidate does not meet the Green List criteria because their degree is not Washington Accord accredited, they are not at Level 8 and do not have a letter from Engineering New Zealand, and are not CPEng.   

This failure to meet the Green List criteria is often only apparent when INZ queries the candidate’s application because the candidate is not made aware of the criteria. This can be weeks or months after the initiation of the Job Check process.  

To avoid an application being declined, we usually support the candidate in withdrawing their AEWV application. We then support the employer in submitting a new Job Check and making a fresh application under the new Job Check. This can cost up to another three months of time and more than $1,000 in unnecessary additional INZ fees. 

Checklist when making a Green List Job Check 

First, ascertain how well your candidate matches the Green List criteria for the role they are being offered.  All is not lost if they do not meet all the requirements. 

Green List role but not a Green List candidate – the Labour Market Test (LMT) 

Although a candidate may not appear to meet the necessary Green List criteria, and will not be paid more than twice the median wage, it is possible to make a successful Job Check application for a role on the Green List with an LMT. 

This is achieved by including evidence in the Job Check application of unsuccessfully advertising to find a New Zealand citizen or resident to do the job.  This shows INZ that efforts have been made to find someone to do the work.  The advert needs to run for at least 14 days and contain some key information, including the specific pay or salary range, location, hours per week, and the role’s requirements.  Once the advert has run for 14 days, a summary of the applicants is prepared detailing the applicants’ citizenship status, resident, or otherwise, and why they were unsuccessful.   

Putting the advice into practice - making a successful Job Check application when Green List criteria are not met  

When making the Job Check application, you will see a job title, such as civil engineer, at the beginning of the application. A tick box underneath the job title asks if the applicant meets the Green List criteria.  Leave this box unticked, attach the prepared LMT evidence, and, despite the candidate not meeting the Green List criteria, the Job Check can be approved, and the candidate hired. It is very important that all advertising requirements are met so that INZ don’t decline your Job Check on the grounds of not correctly running the advert. An online checklist is available to check all requirements are met. 

Occupational registration as a requirement of a visa 

For some roles, particularly in the engineering and medical fields, candidates are required to be registered with the relevant New Zealand professional body prior to a visa application being approved.  From our experience, many of these roles fall within the electrical industry, including electrician, electrical engineer, electrical service technician, and cable jointer.  In this instance, they are all required to be registered with the Electrical Workers Registration Board. 

For employers new to hiring a migrant in this area, the only indication of this requirement is a notice that appears when adding the job title to the Job Check stating registration is required.   

Confusingly, roles not requiring registration, such as civil engineer, seem to prompt the same notification, which leads to many employers overlooking this requirement. However, if you ignore the notification, the candidate will need to provide evidence of their registration when they make their AEWV application, which, although not impossible, does take time.   

Therefore, it is vital employers in the electrical field ensure that either their candidate is aware of the registration process and has either started or completed it, or they must allow time for the candidate to become either provisionally or fully registered before a visa will be granted. This can take three or more months. INZ's occupational registration list is a useful tool to bookmark so that you can easily check occupational registration requirements. 


To take a different approach to your immigration needs, contact the team at O’Dell Immigration.