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On 1 July 2021, the New Zealand Government announced the introduction of the Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPWV).
The introduction of the MEPWV will help migrants on employer-assisted visas to safely and quickly leave exploitative situations and to continue to work while exploitation is being investigated.
New Zealand is committed to working together to combat people trafficking and migrant exploitation. However, there are a few employers who give the rest a bad name.
A new visa for victims of migrant exploitation
In order to obtain a MEPWV, an applicant must:
• Report instances of exploitation to Employment New Zealand through the new reporting tool.
• Have received a Report of Exploitation Assessment Letter and apply for a MEPWV within one month of receipt.
• Valid for up to six (6) months.
• Travel in and out of New Zealand until your visa expires.
• Work anywhere in New Zealand, for any employer (there are some restrictions on the type of work that can be undertaken).
• Dependent partners and children can apply for a visa based on their relationship to you.
• No fees, police clearances or medical certificates are required to apply for this
Examples of breaches
Employers of migrant workers are required to comply with all immigration and employment laws. This includes providing written employment agreements and ensuring holidays and statutory holidays are observed.
Some examples of breaches by employers could include:
• Withholding payment or non-payment of wages;
• Requiring a worker to perform duties outside of the conditions of their visa;
• Asks or pressures the employee to mislead Immigration New Zealand;
• Bullying, harassment or threats;
• No time off work, no holidays or no breaks;
• Forcing an employee to work in order to pay off debt.
Consequences of breaches
Exploitation is a serious crime. Employers who are found to have exploited migrants:
• May be blacklisted from employing migrants in the future, including being refused accreditation under the new scheme.
• Face criminal charges, including imprisonment for up to 7 years and be fined up to $100,000.00.
• Face penalties from breach of employment laws.
There is always support available if you are concerned you are being exploited. You can report migrant exploitation using the Employment New Zealand Reporting Tool.
You can also contact the New Zealand Police, MBIE mediation service, Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law or your Union.