last updated 17/08/2023
Visa scheme enables migrant scams while penalising franchisees
last updated 17/08/2023
11 August 2023 - The Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme introduced last year is open to abuse, making migrant exploitation more rather than less easy, according to immigration advisor Ankur Sabharwal.
In an opinion piece published on Stuff, Mr Sabharwal writes, 'INZ’s “ask no questions” approach to the Accredited Employer Work Visa is leading to migrant exploitation and an influx of unqualified workers for non-genuine positions.' He goes on to say, 'Under the old Essential Skills work visa policy, INZ used to require employers to prove that they were offering genuine and sustainable positions (i.e. real jobs, which they could afford to pay for) to trained workers from overseas.
'However, in the Accredited Employer category, INZ won’t look into whether a job is genuine or sustainable and won’t ask an employer why they want to hire unskilled workers to fill skilled positions or why no unskilled New Zealanders were available to fill those positions when they advertised,' and concludes, 'The last time I asked, INZ told me it only verified one out of every 30 Accredited Employer work visa applications. This is not surprising considering INZ doesn’t require any qualification or work experience in 70% of job check applications.'
The Accredited Employer Work Visa policy implemented in July 2022 singled out franchisees for special treatment, effectively charging them more than five times as much as an independent business owner to hire the same employees after a 2019 review of temporary migrant worker exploitation by MBIE suggested that 'certain business models and practices can facilitate or hide exploitation, including subcontracting and franchise business models.' The MBIE said at the time it intended to review the policy in mid-2023; however, this has now been postponed until around mid-next year.
At the time of its launch, Dr Christina Stringer, who co-authored a 2019 study on Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation in New Zealand, commented, 'The problem is that employer-sponsored visas create the conditions for exploiting workers – they make the employee very dependent on an employer. Migrants don’t necessarily have insight into their employment rights in New Zealand, and they believe what their employer tells them.
‘Personally, I think that employer-sponsored visas are a major concern. There’s a flaw in the system and some employers take advantage of that. And it’s not only the employer: it can sometimes be the migrant that creates conditions because they want to stay in New Zealand and so they will offer their employer a large sum of money to have a job so that they will qualify ... International research highlights that the linking of an individual migrant to an employer creates a precarious situation.’
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