Rita Worner, immigration and employment law specialist at Queen City Law, has completed a new whitepaper on “Exploitation of Migrants”. Rita explores some of the aspects of immigration law and how it affects migrants.
To read the full article as a pdf click here. Rita is passionate about human rights and previously worked for the NZ Government established Immigration Adviser’s Authority. To read more about Rita click here.
Unfortunately, new migrants can sometimes be targets of unscrupulous employers who are willing to take advantage of their vulnerable position. It is not uncommon to read stories in the newspaper about employees being paid less than minimum wage, forced to pay their own wages and tax, and being treated unfairly. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is now toughening up their stance on such exploitative behaviour.
The Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse recently issued a press release to announce the law changes.
Firstly, immigration policy has been amended to encourage victims of exploitation to come forward. Provided a migrant has cooperated with authorities and provided evidence of the exploitation, INZ can disregard breaches of visa conditions and periods of unlawfulness/overstaying when they apply for a new visa.
In addition, changes to the Immigration Act are set to be made in August. The amendments will make it a specific offence to exploit migrants who hold temporary work visas (currently this offence is limited to unlawful employees). The penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both. If the employer themselves obtained residency within the last 10 years, they may also become liable for deportation.
Hopefully such changes will encourage more migrants to come forward, as so often people in these positions are reluctant to do so.
If you are being exploited or treated unfairly by your employer, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Queen City Law has expertise in immigration and employment law and can assist you in finding a solution.