New changes to how qualifications are used for Accredited Employer Work Visas

By Andrew Nah

The changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) introduced many new rules, which can be confusing for employers to keep up with. One of the more especially confusing rules is about how qualifications are used, as its very easy to make a certain mistake.

As a reminder, all of these changes will affect your ability to remain accredited and be able to hire migrant workers so it is important that you remain vigilant. In order to establish what this certain mistake is, we need to establish what the relevant rule changes are.

Suitably skilled and qualified

INZ has introduced a minimum skill requirement, where all applicants must have at least 3 years relevant work experience or a relevant qualification that is level 4 on the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF). “Relevant” means that it is in the same field or industry, although any qualification that is Bachelor level or above is considered good enough for any role.

However, this is just a minimum requirement. On top of that, employers will also need to take reasonable steps to make sure that applicants are suitably qualified and suitably skilled for the job being offered.

Reasonable steps for seeing if an application is suitably qualified must include one of the following:

  • Sighting evidence of relevant work experience; or
  • Sighting qualifications or certificates, and they must specify the awarding institution and type of qualification it is.

o   If you are sighting qualifications, you must reasonably believe it is at least NZQCF level 4.

Reasonable steps for seeing if an applicant is suitably skilled must include one of the following:

  • Take a practical test;
  • Demonstrate knowledge through a job interview; or
  • Sighting evidence that the applicant holds any required occupational registration.


If an applicant is being offered a role on the Green List and they meet all of the additional Green List requirements, they will be automatically deemed to be suitably skilled and qualified. Paying twice the median wage will give the applicant an automatic pass for meeting the minimum skills requirement.

The mistake

It is very easy to look at this and go “well if a Bachelor degree automatically means you meet the minimum skill requirement, and all you need to do is sight the Bachelor degree to see if they’re suitably qualified, doesn’t that mean I can just hire anyone with any Bachelor degree and be done with it?”

Unfortunately, the answer is no. If you’ve been in business for long enough, you may recall the previous work visa called the Essential Skills work visa. If you do, you might be able to tell where this is going.

INZ is re-introducing the use of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations (ANZSCO) codes. ANZSCO is a database that classifies all of the different jobs in Australia and New Zealand. It describes what they are, what the key roles of that job are, what qualifications you need and what skill level that job is. When INZ talks about a low level job, they are talking about ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5.

The way it works is that employers will need to declare what ANZSCO code they believe best matches the job they are offering. For example, if your job offer is for a chef you would declare ANZSCO code 351311 which is for chefs.

INZ will then decide if the job you are offering substantially matches the ANZSCO code you have declared. For example, they might decide that actually the role being offered is more closer to cook, which is a lower skill level than chef. Cook is level 4 and chef is level 2, so if your job offer is seen as for cooks you would have more regulations to follow and it makes it more difficult.

As part of deciding which ANZSCO code to use, INZ will look at what qualifications are required to do the job. Cooks just need a certificate, which is a lower level qualification than the diploma that chefs need. The qualification must also be relevant, so a random bachelor’s degree would not be suitable here.


The new changes are wide-ranging and there are many more that we have yet to talk about. Many of these changes are very technical and just as tricky to understand at first glance, so it is important to keep up with them to maintain your accreditation.

INZ now has the ability to suspend accreditation if there is evidence of non-compliance, or even the potential for non-compliance. Employers will need all the help they can get to navigate these tricky legal landscapes.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information. Queen City Law’s experts are more than happy to assist you with your legal needs.

We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and it should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should always be sought before any decision or action is taken.