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MBIE responds to review on Accredited Employer Work Visa

The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has accepted the findings and recommendations of the independent external review into the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), released today by Te Kawa Mataaho/Public Service Commission.

The review was first announced in August last year by the former Minister of Immigration following concerns raised with him by an Immigration employee relating to the way the scheme was being administered.

The review – that has looked into all aspects of the employer accreditation and job check processes undertaken by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) as part of the AEWV scheme – has made 10 specific recommendations. These include work on reducing the risk of migrant exploitation, developing an integrated compliance and system monitoring model, improving intelligence gathering and resetting the relationship between INZ’s senior leaders and frontline staff.

In accepting the review’s findings today, MBIE Chief Executive Carolyn Tremain says Immigration New Zealand has acknowledged the serious nature of the issues that were raised in the review.

“The scheme was implemented at the same time as the border reopened after COVID-19 and the review acknowledges the extraordinary challenge that MBIE faced with huge demand for visas to work, study and visit.

“Since 30 June last year, Immigration New Zealand has made a number of changes to tighten the settings, introducing more checks and, as a consequence, processing times have increased,” she says.

“But the AEWV scheme has enabled employers to recruit much needed migrant labour to boost the economy in the immediate period after opening our borders.”

Latest figures show there are nearly 33,000 accredited employers and more than 108,000 approved AEWV applications.

Ms Tremain says the vast majority of employers are doing the right thing and treat their migrant workers fairly and well. But unfortunately, the relatively small proportion of bad actors will always seek and exploit weakness in immigration systems and policy.

“As a result of our investigations 145 employers have had their accreditation revoked and 53 have had their accreditation suspended,” she says.

Ms Tremain says staff have raised serious concerns and that they felt senior Immigration leaders did not pay adequate attention to the concerns raised by them about the AEWV risk settings.

“We encourage our people who want to raise an issue because they’re worried about the integrity of the system to report it – if they are not comfortable doing so to their manager, then to any of the leadership team or to the MBIE Integrity line.”

“I know Immigration New Zealand is working hard to improve staff communications and engagement and the latest survey of staff shows progress is being made, but clearly there is further work to be done.

“Our people have an important role in our immigration system – whether involved in reopening the borders, processing applications, carrying out post accreditation checks or investigating employers and I thank them for the work they do,” she says.

The review is published on the Te Kawa Mataaho/Public Service Commission website – https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/

 

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