Nearly 200 employees prohibited from hiring migrants in visa scam crackdown: reports

167 more New Zealand employers under investigation

Nearly 200 employees prohibited from hiring migrants in visa scam crackdown: reports

Immigration New Zealand has revoked or suspended the licenses of nearly 200 employers as the government continues its crackdown on visa scams and exploitation of migrant workers.

A total of 136 employers have had their accreditation revoked, while an additional 51 have faced suspension, Radio New Zealand reported.

In addition, Immigration NZ is also investigating 167 more employers that are allegedly involved in the accredited employer work visa scheme.

The crackdown comes after reports surfaced last year about a group of workers from India, China, and Bangladesh who paid a hefty cost to get to New Zealand only to arrive and remain unemployed.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) said last year that these individuals were sent to live in properties that "were not fit to house so many people."

"The conditions of the accommodation were unhygienic, unsanitary, and inappropriate," the MBIE previously said.

The victims have been offered assistance while they stayed in New Zealand, according to RNZ, while the government managed to trace about 200 more victims overseas that have yet to arrive in the country.

The Public Service Commission is set to release this month its review of the accredited employer work visa scheme, following a delay from its previous December release.

Crackdown on migrant exploitation

Immigration NZ has been carrying out various operations to find employers that are reportedly exploiting migrant workers in the country.

Just last month, a man from the Bay of Plenty pleaded guilty to seven charges of migrant exploitation and one attempt to pervert the court of justice.

The man, Jafar Kurisi, was arrested after reports that he was exploiting 27 migrant workers from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh in 2020.

Most of these employees have since left the country, while there were others who continued working and living in New Zealand after they were transferred to legitimate employers.

"His guilty plea allows our justice system to move forward to sentencing and, importantly, without retraumatising his victims who have now moved on to better stages of their lives," said James Friend, MBIE's National Manager Immigration Investigation, in a statement.

The investigation came following tips provided by the kiwifruit/horticulture industry.

"Any exploitation of workers is unacceptable, and our industry is committed to working alongside the Government to ensure our industry is one where people are valued, supported and safe in their jobs and where the minority who don't live up to those standards are held to account," said Dan Mathieson, CEO of kiwifruit marketer Zespri, in a statement.

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