Construction and immigration

Smart plays in a tight environment


NZ is desperately seeking 50,000 construction workers over the next five years. This is excluding the government’s KiwiBuild programme which anticipates to building in excess of 100,000 houses over the next 10 years.

Given the changes under the Essential Skills Work Visa instruction, it is getting harder
to fill the skill shortage in the construction industry. It is also getting harder for employers to retain and keep good employees given it is more difficult

to secure residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.

From an employer’s perspective, there is no certainty that they can secure the skills they need, employ people they want and retain such employees.

This is why being an Accredited Employer has significant advantages as it gives employers certainty that they can fill
the skills gap in their business. The current immigration framework makes

it very appealing to become an Accredited Employer.


When the Accredited Employer programme was created in 2001 by the then Minister
of Immigration, the Honourable Lianne Dalziel, the intention was to make NZ more competitive as a destination for highly talented and skilled individuals by giving them a pathway to residence. The size and scale of the businesses that were accredited was typically for larger companies.

This is no longer the case, the Accredited Employer programme is now being utilised to fill the skills shortages. For example, Accredited Employers are becoming accredited so they can employ heavy machine operators and truck drivers. And it has just been reported that a crane operator shortage is slowing New Zealand’s building boom.

Essentially, your business will need to apply to Immigration NZ to achieve this status. Once granted, you will have the ability to sponsor migrant workers without having to go through the sometimes cumbersome and costly Labour Market Test to prove there are no available Kiwis to fill the situation vacant. You will have certainty that the employee can work for you for at least 30 months.

More importantly, you can also support
your employee and secure a residence
visa without having to go through the Skill Migrant Category which is extremely difficult at the moment as the points threshold is so high at the moment at 160 points. This will be seen as an excellent option by your staff and should engender real loyalty.

The main criteria is that the job offer must pay at least $55,000.00 per annum.


The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Your business must be in a sound financial position
  • Your business must have a high standard of human resource policies and processes
  • Your business must demonstrate commitment to training and employing NZ citizens or residence class visa holders
  • Your business must have good workplace practices with a history of compliance with immigration and employment laws.


  • Ability to streamline the work visa process as the local labour market test is not required
  • Your business will have the ability to
retain workers as there is a pathway to residence. After working for your company for two years a reasonably straightforward residence application is possible (character, medical and 24 months PAYE records)
  • Goodwill created from being an Accredited Employer
  • The requirements to qualify for a work visa is more straightforward. Essentially, the applicant simply needs a job offer with a salary of at least $55,000.00 per annum. Please note that there has been a lot of talk about reviewing this threshold but it is understood that there will be no change given concerns expressed from a regional point of view
  • Conditions on the work visa are also not geographically restricted
  • The principal applicant can support their partner and children.

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