From time to time, migrants on temporary visas can find themselves in vulnerable and unlawful situations beyond their control. This often goes unreported due to a perceived threat to their temporary visa status resulting in an unwillingness or fear to seek help or assistance from authorities and ultimately prolonging their exposure to the adverse situation and making things worse.
It is important to note that while some situations may seem helpless at the time, there are many avenues for help and assistance. In addition, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have policies aimed at assisting migrants in such situations including visa categories specifically designed for victims of family violence, victims of migrant exploitation; and suspected victims of people trafficking, amongst others.
Migrants who feel they fall into one of these or similar situations should seek help urgently, without fear of a risk to their immigration status and/or potential deportation from New Zealand.
Victims of Family Violence
INZ’s Victims of Domestic Violence policy allows partners of New Zealand citizens or residents to seek residence based on a relationship that ends due to domestic violence. Specifically, it helps those who cannot return to their home country due to the impacts of stigma or where they may not be able to support themselves independently.
In addition to this residency pathway, there is a special work visa which can be granted quickly for up to 6 months if the migrant is able to provide evidence that domestic violence has occurred. The work visa will be granted for a slightly longer term of 9 months if the migrant lodges a residence application at the same time. Another visa may be approved if a decision on the residence application is not made within this 9-month timeframe.
Victims of People Trafficking
Suspected victims of people trafficking may be granted a 12-month visa where the NZ Police certify that trafficking has occurred. A further work visa under this category may be granted if the migrant’s continued presence in New Zealand is necessary, they have not obstructed INZ’s or the NZ Police’s investigation in any way, and where their personal circumstances justify it. The migrant can submit another visa application under a different category during this time, if eligible.
Victims of Exploitation
The Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa allows migrant works to leave exploitative situations quickly while remaining lawfully in New Zealand. Migrants on employment specific work visas can technically breach the conditions of their visa if they leave their job without changing the conditions of their visa or otherwise notifying and seeking permission from INZ.
This work visa aims to encourage workers to report exploitation and allows them time to explore other options. Applicants under this category must be in New Zealand, hold a work visa which notes their employer as a condition on their visa, meet health and character requirements and have formally reported their exploitation to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who have assessed that exploitation may have occurred. If approved, an open work visa for six months may be granted.
These types of applications are considered and granted by specially trained Immigration officers and are prioritised for processing. INZ will act on reports and complaints very quickly if there is a possibility of personal harm or associated criminality. Migrants or their well wishers can call or email INZ or Crimestoppers to report any suspected immigration offence. This can be done anonymously without fear of repercussion.
If you believe you are in a vulnerable situation which may benefit from urgent intervention, please reach out to discuss your options. Contact TODD & WALKER Law’s immigration expert Hetish Lochan for a confidential discussion on email@example.com or 021 075 8147.