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  • INZBC Secretariat

Navigating the Complex Terrain of Immigration Law for Employers

From 7 April 2024, the criteria for hiring migrants under the AEWV have changed, with the introduction of additional requirements during the accreditation and job Check stages and throughout the accreditation period.


But did you know that New Zealand employers who now breach immigration law can be fined, imprisoned, lose their accreditation status, and be placed on a stand-down list?


Hiring migrant workers provides a wide range of advantages for New Zealand employers, such as enriching their teams' diversity and filling skills gaps. Yet, these advantages come with considerable legal responsibilities and consequences. Non-compliance with immigration laws can result in serious outcomes, including substantial fines, jail time, the revocation of accreditation status, and inclusion on the stand-down list, which can cause lasting harm to an employer's reputation. These repercussions affect all employers that engage migrant workers, not just those who are accredited.


This comprehensive guide illuminates the exacting road of immigration law for employers, ensuring that New Zealand employers traverse it with the precision and care it demands. Vandana Rai, the Director of Immigration Advisers New Zealand Ltd, has also covered the overview of the changes in India’s National Media, i.e. Daily Mirror and NDTV 

Understanding the Weight of Compliance


Immigration compliance is not a facet of corporate governance to be taken lightly. For New Zealand employers, the law is clear—any entity hiring migrant workers must meticulously adhere to the stipulations set forth by Immigration New Zealand. But why is this so critical? The answer is simple—non-compliance can result in significant setbacks, both legal and fiscal, that reverberate throughout the organisation.


The Sting of Fines and Penalties


Employers who fail to follow immigration guidelines can quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the law, facing a slew of punitive actions. Infringement notices are the first sting—a direct consequence for offences such as hiring individuals not allowed to work in the country or not abiding by the work-related conditions outlined in their visas. These infringements come with a financial weight, imposing fines that could reach up to NZD$3,000 per offence for body corporates and NZD$1,000 for individuals, not to mention the legal costs associated with disputing these claims.


Beyond monetary reprimands, employers may encounter more severe penalties, including imprisonment for individuals and escalated fines for the body corporates if found guilty of significant violations under the Immigration Act.


The Ripple Effect on Employment


The impact of immigration law breaches goes beyond the immediate consequences for employers—it filters down to their ability to facilitate work visas for their migrant employees. The maximum stand-down for multiple infringement notices issued at once is 12 months. Being placed on a stand-down list means a temporary or potentially permanent inability to support visa applications, disrupting business operations and stalling employees' career progression.


While existing migrant workers can continue their employment, an employer on the stand-down list loses the ability to hire any new migrant workers, thus impeding the company's growth and talent acquisition strategy.


After the stand-down period has ended you must show you have addressed the non-compliance issue and taken steps to make sure it does not happen again. A business with compliance failures cannot be closed and opened again under a new name to avoid those failures. INZ will still take the compliance issues of the previous business or key people into account.


Crafting a Compliance Culture


The surest way to avoid violating immigration law is to ingrain compliance within the organisation's culture. From the highest echelons of management to frontline supervisors, every member must be aware of their role in upholding the law. Regular training, transparent policies, and robust monitoring mechanisms can fortify an organisation's commitment to compliance. By fostering a culture that prioritises adherence to immigration regulations, employers can shield themselves from the risks associated with violations.

Employers must be proactive, staying abreast of immigration changes and taking measures to ensure that their internal practices align with the updated requirements. Building solid partnerships with empanelled immigration advisers can offer invaluable guidance to companies seeking to maintain an immaculate compliance record.


The Legal Labyrinth


Navigating immigration law can feel like traversing a labyrinth—complex, confusing, and fraught with potential pitfalls. The key is to approach this challenge with a strategic mindset and the right resources. Understanding the nuances of relevant regulations, interpreting the intricate jargon of legal documentation, and knowing the rights and responsibilities of employers are all integral parts of the immigration compliance puzzle.

Engaging immigration advisers with expertise in immigration law equips employers with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions and avoid situations that could lead to legal repercussions. Additionally, establishing robust human resources practices that emphasise due diligence in documenting the immigration status and work entitlements of all employees provides a safety net against unwitting compliance lapses.


The Bridge to a Brighter Future


While the repercussions of immigration law breaches are undoubtedly dire, employers can chart a course to redemption. By taking corrective action, demonstrating a commitment to compliance, and fulfilling any legal obligations imposed, companies can eventually rebuild their standing and return to the path of growth. The process, though arduous, presents an opportunity for employers to reflect, rectify, and reinforce their dedication to operating within the bounds of the law.


In conclusion, the weight of immigration law for employers is not a burden to be shunned but an imperative to be embraced. By recognising the significance of complying with immigration regulations, organisations can safeguard their operations, uphold their ethical obligations, and foster an environment that values the contributions of both local and migrant workers. The road to compliance is paved with proactive measures, continuous learning, and a steadfast commitment to the overarching principles of immigration law.

In the constantly evolving landscape of employment and labour, it is the responsibility of every employer, regardless of size or industry, to be vigilant, well-informed, and compliant. For those treading within the spectrum of immigration law, this diligence is not just an aspiration but a fundamental pillar of sustainable business practice.

Courtesy : Immigration Advisers New Zealand Ltd.


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