Minister accepts findings of AEWV Scheme review

Minister accepts findings of AEWV Scheme review

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford has received the findings of the Assurance Review of the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) Scheme released today by the Public Service Commission. 

“The report highlights serious issues, and I am disappointed that appropriate risk assessments were not being carried out by Immigration New Zealand from October 2022 until June 2023,” Ms Stanford says.

“I accept that the Ministry were under a great deal of pressure following the reopening of borders after COVID-19 and the unprecedented demand for migrant workers. This included having significant numbers of new staff, the merging of six previous visa types into one, and a new IT system that was not fully operational.”

Ms Stanford says she had received assurances from MBIE Chief Executive Carolyn Tremain, that there had been significant improvements in risk assessments for AEWV applications and documenting decisions and that the feedback from visa processing and compliance staff has been taken seriously.

“I want to thank staff who did absolutely the right thing in raising their concerns. I have been clear with the Ministry that when significant risks are identified in our immigration system, appropriate action must be taken and that I must be advised. I would also like to thank the reviewer, Jenn Bestwick, and her team for their work.”

Ms Stanford says the review confirmed that changes to improve the system were already happening but that more was needed. 

“Along with the recommendations in the report, I have also asked for a range of advice about the AEWV and immigration settings more broadly that I will be considering over the coming weeks. 

“New Zealanders need to have confidence that those who seek to live and work here, have the qualifications and skills they say they do and do not pose a risk, and those who come here for a better life are protected from exploitation.”