New Zealand’s recent expansion of the rules for its Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa (MEPV) is a positive development for Nigerian workers in New Zealand.
The new rules make it easier for Nigerian workers to get help if their employers exploit them.
Under the new rules, which came into effect on October 24, 2023, holders of an initial MEPV can now apply for a further MEPV if they cannot find a suitable job. This will give Nigerian workers more time to find a new employer before their original work visa expires.
To be eligible for a further MEPV, applicants must show that they have made a genuine attempt to find employment while holding their initial MEPV and that the roles they looked at are similar to the ones on their original work visa. The pay rate for the roles must also meet Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) requirements.
Applicants must also provide evidence of their job search, such as correspondence with potential employers, screenshots of a job search showing applications submitted, or job advertisements with confirmation of applications submitted.
The MEPV allows foreign workers to leave their job and work anywhere in New Zealand for any employer while their exploitation report is being investigated. They can apply for the MEPV if they have already reported the exploitation to Employment New Zealand and have been given a Report of Exploitation Assessment letter.
The MEPV is valid for up to 6 months and the processing time is high priority.
The changes to the MEPV are part of the New Zealand government’s efforts to protect foreign workers from exploitation.
In September 2023, the Minister of Immigration announced many new measures to support exploited migrant workers, including the establishment of a dedicated support team and the introduction of new training for immigration staff.
The government is also working to improve the accreditation process for employers who hire foreign workers. From October 29, 2023, accredited employers will no longer be able to use 90-day trial periods when hiring people on an AEWV. This is to encourage accredited employers to treat migrant workers fairly and only recruit someone when they have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill.
The government’s changes to the MEPV and the AEWV process are expected to help protect foreign workers from exploitation and make it easier for them to access support if they are exploited.
How Nigerians can benefit from the new MEPV rules:
Nigerian workers who their employers have exploited can now apply for a further MEPV if they are unable to find a suitable job. This will give them more time to find a new employer before their original work visa expires.
The new rules make it easier for Nigerian workers to get help if their employers exploit them. They can now apply for an MEPV even if they have not reported the exploitation to Employment New Zealand.
The new rules also make it easier for Nigerian workers to find new jobs. They can now work anywhere in New Zealand for any employer while their report of exploitation is being investigated.
What Nigerian workers can do to protect themselves from exploitation:
Do your research before you accept a job in New Zealand. Make sure that the employer is accredited and has a good reputation.
Get everything in writing. This includes your job contract, salary, and working conditions.
Report any exploitation to Employment New Zealand immediately. You can do this anonymously if you want.
Join a union or migrant worker support group. This will give you access to support and advice if you need it.