Government warns migrant workers – employment scams exploit the unwary

migrant workers

Employment scams are making migrant workers suffer. Their money is snatched and their livelihoods, hopes and dreams more than threatened.

The Minister of Immigration Andrew Little says people considering moving to New Zealand must be wary.

“Watch out for the scams,” he says.

“If you are paying tens of thousands of dollars in order to come to work here, you are being scammed. That is not what it costs to get a visa to come here, so be very careful.”

Hundreds already scammed

The New Zealand Government does not know how many migrant workers have been scammed.

What is known is that hundreds are caught in employment scams where advantage is taken of Government employer-worker schemes.

The scammers then target workers for fees, into the tens of thousands of dollars, as they enable the migrant workers to come to New Zealand.

When their “prey” arrive in New Zealand the promised jobs are nowhere to be seen.

The scammed migrants then find themselves trapped in miserable conditions – as provided by the scammers.

Hundreds have been discovered crammed into homes and living in squalor.

Government review

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has launched a review of its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). It expects to complete the review before the end of the year.

On Wednesday INZ also unveiled a support package for migrant workers who fall victim to scammers.

The AEWV scheme allows employers to get accreditation to use the visa to hire migrants for up to three years. The support package includes temporary funding for accommodation and essential living costs for victims.

Exploited migrant workers will be able to apply for a further Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV).

The MEPV will give them more time to find a job. It will also provide the workers with a free job search assistance service.

Immigration Minister Andrew Little said last Wednesday that about 250 exploited migrants are currently on Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas.

He adds that not every migrant worker who claims exploitation goes onto that visa.

“So I expect the number who have experienced some form of exploitation will be bigger than that.”

Protecting future targets from becoming victims

Little says immigration rules are being strengthened.

He also promises prospective employer checks will be better and that individual job checks will take place.

He says the 90-day trial period for accredited employer work visas is being removed.

“Too often recently we’ve seen migrants arriving and starting work only to be dismissed within days” Little says.

A migrant worker advocate welcomed the support package but there were still concerns.

Faisol Miah, secretary of the Bangladesh Skilled Migrant Association New Zealand, said the six-month period for the MEPV may not be long enough for migrants to secure work.

“They may not be able to get any job within six months … I don’t think six months is enough.

“They [the migrants] just want certainty over the job [situation] … they’re worried over this.”


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