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Government announces more support for migrants who have been exploited

The Government has announced changes to the immigration system to increase protection and support for migrant workers.

20 September 2023
5 minute read

The Government announced today changes to the immigration system to increase protection and support for migrant workers, including:

  • short-term basic financial support and job search assistance for people on the Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV)
  • an option for people on the MEPV to apply for a second MEPV if they need more time to search for a job, and
  • removal of the 90-day trial for migrant workers on the Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV). 

Financial support for Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV) holders

There is financial support available for people on the Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV) to help pay for accommodation and living expenses for a limited time while they search for a job that allows them to stay in New Zealand.

Only migrants on the MEPV will be eligible, to make sure that the financial support goes to migrants who have been exploited. The support provided will depend on the needs of each migrant, and will be different depending on their situation.

The financial support is available to people on MEPVs who are not currently in employment. The payment will continue until they either:

  • find work while on their MEPV
  • reach expiry of their MEPV
  • find work on a different visa such as the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)
  • leave New Zealand.

Support provided

This new financial support runs until March 2024.

Accommodation and living costs benchmarked on the Jobseeker Support Benefit entitlement (approximately $50 per person a day), which could be topped up to $100 per person per day dependent on need, job seeker assistance.

Community Connectors and community groups will have one-off funding to support other immediate needs that may arise.

For more information, including how people on an MEPV apply, download the support package request form.

Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa Support Package Request Form

MEPV holders can now apply for a second MEPV

As part of the support announced for MEPV holders, migrants will be able to apply for a second MEPV, giving them more time to search for a job. The second visa is for up to 6 months or until the expiry of their original work visa, whichever is the lesser.

Migrants applying for a second MEPV will have to:

  • meet all of the visa requirements, and
  • demonstrate that they made reasonable efforts to find a job that would qualify them for an AEWV.

There is no need for migrants to make a second exploitation report to Employment New Zealand. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will check to make sure the claim is still genuine, based on information they already hold.

Officials are working through the details of how and when this change will be implemented to ensure it is a fair and equitable process. Further details will be announced in due course.

Transitioning to another visa from the MEPV

It is possible to transition between visas.

Changes for accredited employers

As part of the support for migrant workers, the Government announced changes for accredited employers.

Accredited employers will no longer be able to use 90-day trials

The Government is requiring employers to commit to not using trial periods when hiring people on an AEWV.

This is to encourage accredited employers to:

  • treat migrant workers fairly, and
  • only recruit someone when they have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill.

Changes to the AEWV process for employers

From 29 October 2023:

  • there will be a new requirement that employment agreements provided with Job Check applications must not include a trial period
  • a Job Check application under assessment will be declined if it includes an employment agreement with a trial period (regardless of the submission date), or Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may request updated information
  • a new accreditation standard for the AEWV will be introduced, requiring an employer to commit to not using trial periods when hiring AEWV holders. Breaches of this standard could lead to loss of accreditation.

The 90-day trial rule will not apply to:

  • already-approved Job Checks, or
  • migrants who already hold, or have applied for, an AEWV.

Accredited employers who are 'triangular employers'

Changes were also announced for triangular employers who employ migrants to work at other businesses’ premises.

  • Triangular employers will have to prove their financial viability when applying for, or renewing, their Accredited Employer accreditation.
  • Triangular employers recruiting migrants for construction site work will need to have at least 35% of their workforce made up of New Zealanders, an increase from the current 15%.
  • This New Zealand workforce threshold will now be assessed at both the accreditation and Job Check stages.

More information on when the accredited employer changes come into effect will be made available soon.

How the MEPV helps migrants who have been exploited

The MEPV is a special visa that people can apply for if, while on an employer-supported work visa, they report a case of migrant exploitation to Employment New Zealand, and their case is supported.

An MEPV allows the holder to search for another job for 6 months or until the expiry date of their current work visa (whichever is lesser).  

The MEPV lasts for 6 months, after which the holder must transfer to a new visa if they want to remain in New Zealand. While on an MEPV they can work anywhere in New Zealand for any employer.  

As at 15 September there are 270 MEPV visa holders.

Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa: Visa details

More support for victims of migrant exploitation —