New Visa: Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV)

 In Coronavirus, immigration, immigration issues, opinion, Studying in NZ

06 July 2021

New Visa: Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa – New Zealand’s response to Migrant Exploitation and Modern Slavery

Migrant exploitation in New Zealand is a blight on New Zealand and part of a greater problem worldwide. It takes many forms and exists both in the first world and the third world. From 1 July 2021 the new ‘Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa’ (MEPV) comes into effect to counter this trend.

It is defined by MBIE as:

Migrant exploitation is behaviour that causes, or increases the risk of, material harm to the economic, social, physical or emotional well-being of a migrant worker. This includes breaches of minimum employment standards or breaches of health and safety and immigration laws.[1]

Recent cases that have been reported in the media include the owner of three ‘superettes’ reportedly underpaying staff to the tune of $90,000 [2]. In another case a restaurant owner who reportedly had staff work 70 hours per week and only paid for 33 hours.[3]

The New Zealand government as part of its response has launched the new Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa. This offers exploited workers a pathway to a new visa.

Punish the employer and Punish the worker harder

There are many punishments for employers who do the wrong thing including fines and publication on a stand down list[4].

While serious for employers – the consequences for exploited workers is often harsher. Workers may become unlawful in New Zealand. 

This leaves exploited workers reluctant to report their employers as they could lose their visa.

The New Visa

The new Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa is part of New Zealand’s solution to fix this crisis.

The key features of the new visa are:

  • It is an open work visa – not tied to an employer.
  • It’s term is either six months or the duration of the person’s current work visa.
  • A report must be made to MBIE and MBIE has to assess whether it is credible that exploitation may have occurred;

This visa frees exploited workers from their employer and gives the opportunity to move to another employer.

Partners and children of exploited workers are also covered by this visa. 

Employers must be reported to MBIE. 

Rules for INZ

Immigration New Zealand when assessing the visa must disregard the following:

  • Incidents of false, misleading, or withheld information associated with the applicants exploitation
  • Any period when the applicant has been working in breach of the conditions for the employer they claimed exploited them
  • Any periods of unlawfulness that are linked to the report of exploitation

This means that any breaches of Immigration rules can be overlooked if these breaches occurred as a result of exploitative employment practices.

A new start

Overall the new Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa is a welcome change in policy from the New Zealand government.

It gives exploited workers a pathway out of exploitation.

Is it happening to you?

If there is anything which matches your situation? – please contact Idesi Legal for assistance.





At Idesi Legal we provide help for migrants and refugees coming to New Zealand. If you’re a NZ migrant and need help with the immigration process, get in touch.

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