15 April 2024

Govt offers support package for victims of migrant exploitation

New Zealand Government has today announced a new package, including accommodation and living support for victims of migrant exploitation, and removal of the use of 90-day trial periods for employers utilising the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) for victims of migrant exploitation.

Making this announcement this afternoon, Immigration Minister Andrew Little said “Migrant exploitation is a crime. It is repugnant to this government, to good employers, to most New Zealanders, and we won’t tolerate it.”

This relief package for the exploited migrant workers consists of:

  • funding for accommodation and essential living support – up to $50 daily
  • eligibility to apply for a further Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV)
  • free job search assistance
  • removal of 90-day trial periods to be removed for Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV), and
  • strengthened immigration rules for triangular employers

The main accommodation and living support would likely be delivered through a third-party provider contracted by MBIE, and the scheme runs until March 2024.

Package for migrants
MEPV holders may get up to $50 daily benefit

Funding for accommodation and living costs is bench-marked on the Jobseeker Support Benefit entitlement (approx. $50 per person per day) which could be topped up to $100 per person per day dependent on need.

According to the details of announcement, only migrant workers on an MEPV will be eligible, and those who apply for support in September 2023 may be able to access the full six months of support depending on the amount of time left on their MEPV.

MEPV holders who apply after September 2023 would receive support on a pro-rated basis,

With the removal of 90-days trial for AEWV, a new ‘Job Check’ requirement will be introduced, meaning applications must not include an employment agreement with a trial period. A new accreditation standard will be also introduced, requiring an employer to commit to not using trial periods when hiring AEWV holders. Accredited employers who continue to dismiss migrant workers based on a trial period will be liable to have their accreditation revoked.

“I have already directed Immigration New Zealand to strengthen the system of checks it carries out on both employers seeking accreditation as well as individual job check applications. Many of the enhanced checking systems are already in place,” Andrew Little said.

“The suite of additional measures announced today will allow victims of migrant exploitation to feel safe to come forward, knowing that they will be listened to and supported.

“The government will put in place a six-month programme of short-term basic financial support that can be put towards accommodation and essential living costs for people on the Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV). In most cases the support will be delivered by third-party providers contracted by MBIE working with MSD’s Community Connectors.

“We also know it can be difficult for migrants to get out of an exploitative situation and have time to find another job before their MEPV expires. That’s why we will allow MEPV holders to apply for a further MEPV visa that will last for the lesser of six months or the expiry date of their original work visa.

“In order to help get those individuals back into employment as soon as possible, we’ll also extend MSD’s free job search assistance to all MEPV holders,” Andrew Little said.

Details of changes made and support package can be found here.

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