Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa Explained

There is a special visa available for migrant workers who are being exploited by their employers.

It’s called the Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa, and it is part of a wider Government initiative to help fight all forms of exploitation.

What is it?

If your employer is treating you unfairly, it’s easy for you to complain or walk out, but if you’re a migrant whose visa depends on that job, then things are more complicated.

Many migrant workers fear being deported if they complain about their job, losing their work visa and any rights they have. As a result, many will simply keep their head down and plough on, suffering from a wide range of abuse and even criminal activity from an employer.

The Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa allows workers to leave their jobs quickly without the fear of being kicked out of the country too.

How do you get one and how does it work?

If a worker makes an official complaint about their employer, Employment NZ will get back in touch within three days, confirming the information given.

After that, the case will be assessed, and if it’s found that the employer is in breach of New Zealand employment laws, then the worker will be given a Report of Exploitation Assessment letter.

Once the worker has this letter, then they can apply for the new exploitation visa.

There are no extra fees to be paid, and no medical or police certificates to show. The visa lasts for up to six months and allows you to work anywhere in New Zealand for any employer.

Types of exploitation

Unfortunately, migrant workers can be easy targets for unscrupulous employers.

As a worker here in New Zealand, you are entitled to certain rights. If any job doesn’t uphold those rights, then they are in breach of New Zealand Employment Law and you can report them.

Common examples of worker exploitation include things like not providing an employment contract, not receiving any or not enough time off work, and not getting paid for public holidays or annual leave.

Many examples fall under exploitation which are common with migrant workers, such as making you work more hours than your visa allows, keeping your passport, having to give back part of your wages to your employer for any reason.

A full list of your rights as an employee (in many different languages), can be found here.

How to make a complaint

If you feel you or someone else is being exploited by an employer, then the Government has created a new dedicated 0800 number and web form to make it easier to report.

Anyone who sees or suspects a breach of minimum employment rights can use the hotline or fill out the form.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Employment NZ will treat you fairly and can provide you with support and advice. The information you provide will help them to take action against employers who are not complying with the law.

You can call the dedicated hotline on 0800 200 088 or click here to fill out the form.

If you need a translator, simply call the number and say the name of the language you speak. You will then be connected with an interpreter.