More support for victims of migrant exploitation

  • Temporary package of funding for accommodation and essential living support for victims of migrant exploitation
  • Exploited migrant workers able to apply for a further Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV), giving people more time to find a job
  • Free job search assistance to get people back into work
  • Use of 90-day trial periods to be removed for Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV)
  • Strengthened immigration rules for triangular employers

The Government will provide a temporary package of further support to exploited migrant workers and strengthen immigration rules to prevent migrant exploitation, Immigration Minister Andrew Little says.

“Migrant exploitation is a crime. It is repugnant to this government, to good employers, to most New Zealanders, and we won’t tolerate it.

“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.

The Government has also announced plans to remove the use of 90-day trial periods for employers utilising the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

“Too often recently we’ve seen migrants arriving and starting work, only to be dismissed within days. Workers on AEW visas are already subject to restrictions that other workers don’t have. Removing the ability for AEWV employers to include a 90 day trial period in an employment agreement with AEWV migrants provides some balance in those employment relationships,” Andrew Little said.

“We’re also strengthening the requirements on ‘triangular employers’, who employ migrants to work at other businesses’ premises. All triangular employers will have a dedicated check on their financial viability every time they apply to become an Accredited Employer or renew their accreditation. Triangular employers who are mainly involved in providing labour hire on construction sites will not be able to employ further migrants if it would mean New Zealanders made up less than 35% of their workforce.”

“Migrant exploitation is unfortunately not new and is a global phenomenon. It has no place in New Zealand, and this suite of changes will help to further reduce the risk and continue to make every effort to stamp it out,” Andrew Little said.

It is expected that these changes will encourage more reports of migrant exploitation. The dedicated website to report migrant exploitation be soon be updated to make it easier to report in other languages than English. Anyone can report migrant exploitation to Immigration New Zealand, the Police or anonymously to Crimestoppers.


Notes to the editor:

Background on the Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa

  • The Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa (MEPV) and dedicated reporting tools to report migrant exploitation were introduced on 1 July 2021 to encourage individuals to report instances of migrant exploitation, and to help victims leave exploitative situations quickly while remaining lawfully in New Zealand,
  • The MEPV enables migrants on an employer-assisted work visa who experience exploitation to transition onto a temporary visa that is not linked to their employer for up to six months, or the balance of their current work visa, whichever is the lesser,
  • This visa gives them time to find a new job that is compliant with the AEWV including the relevant wage threshold and matches their skills. Alternatively, they may choose to depart New Zealand.

Short term support for exploited migrant workers

Scheme duration

  • The scheme runs until March 2024.

Support provided

  • Funding for accommodation and living costs benchmarked 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,
  • Community Connectors and E Tū Whānau community groups will have one-off funding to support other immediate needs that may arise.


  • MEPV holders 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,
  • Only migrant workers on an MEPV will be eligible, to ensure that support is targeted to victims of migrant exploitation.


  • The main accommodation and living support would likely be delivered through a third-party provider contracted by MBIE; this would be complemented by MSD’s Community Connectors.

Change to allow migrants to apply for a further MEPV

  • The MEPV enables migrants on an employer-assisted work visa who experience exploitation to transition onto a temporary visa that is not linked to their employer for up to six months, or the balance of their current work visa, whichever is the lesser,
  • Migrants applying for a further MEPV will have to meet all of the visa requirements and demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to find a job that would qualify them for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV),
  • A check will also be carried to ensure the claim continues to meet the initial assessment of genuine based on information held by MBIE,
  • Migrants on MEPVs will not need to go through the process of reporting their exploitation to MBIE’s Employment Services again in order to access the further visa,
  • Officials are working through the details of how and when this change will be implemented to ensure this is a fair and equitable process that provides certainty to migrants and aligns with the wider immigration system,
  • Further details will be announced in due course.

Job search support

  • Migrants on an MEPV will receive tailored support to find a new AEWV job, provided through MSD’s Community Connectors programme. Connectors can link migrants into MSD’s existing employment services, as well as help preparing a person for employment by making sure they have the right tools and gear.

Removal of 90 Day Trials 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.

Triangular employers in construction

  • Triangular employers will have to prove their financial viability when apply 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%.

More information about the changes will be available here.