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More Protection For Migrant Workers

20 September 2023

Cases of migrant exploitation are on the rise. The Minister of Immigration has also announced an independent review into the Accredited Employer Work Visa. NZ Media has extensively covered cases of migrant exploitation and some businesses have been charged.

Exploitation is especially prevalent in retail, construction, hospitality, transport, horticulture, manufacturing, and aged care sectors. 

What are the most common scams happening currently?

  • Paying high fees to an agent, consultant or other third party to secure a job in New Zealand
  • Promising residency to someone to enter New Zealand on a student, visitor or other temporary visa
  • Paying high fees to an agent to get a ‘recovery visa’ but being told its an ‘open work visa’ in NZ
  • No job to go to when migrant lands in NZ – agent disappears, no employer to be found
  • Forcing migrants to illegally take up work unrelated to what they were promised – migrants have no choice due to high debt.
  • Being asked to lie and falsify documents to get a job or a visa 

What are common types of Migrant Exploitation?

  • not having a written employment agreement
  • having to pay a fee to get a job
  • having to give back part or all of wages to an employer
  • being paid too little or nothing at all for work
  • not being paid for all hours of work

What to do if you are in a situation of Migrant Exploitation?

Migrants stuck in these circumstances will feel helpless, anxious and scared like there is no way out for them. But there is.

Firstly, they must remember migrants who work in NZ on any visa have the same rights as the people who are from New Zealand. So, they should be treated the same way at work. But visa adjustments may be required. There are 2 types of visas available to migrants in these situations:

Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV)

  • No INZ fee 
  • Permits you to stay in New Zealand for up to 12 months (6 months on one MEPV but you can apply for a second one). 
  • This visa allows you to quit your job while the allegations are investigated. 
  • INZ treats applications under this visa as a high priority.
  • This visa will let you work anywhere in the country for any employer. 

Recently the government has announced that they will be offering financial support of about $50 a day (in some cases up to $100 a day) until March 2024 for those on an MEPV.

Dismissed Worker Visitor Visa (DWVV)

  • This visa lets you stay in New Zealand for 3 months if you were dismissed from your job in the first 90 days. You won't be able to work while on this visa, but you can look for another job and then apply for another work visa once you secure a job.
  • Big news recently received - from late October 2023, employers hiring AEWV holders can no longer use 90-day trial periods.

As a leading presence in the immigration industry, we are committed to supporting all migrants who are going through such challenging circumstances. If you have been subject to such exploitation, contact us today to learn how we can assist you. We will treat your matter with confidence and if required, will ask you to consult with only one of our senior advisers who specializes in these matters.

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