Migrants interviewed by MSD, move into accomodation
Migrants caught in a visa fraud and living in squalor for weeks in Auckland finally had their first job interviews on September 13.
The interviews held at Mangere Memorial Hall included employers from various sectors, especially the trucking and welding industries.
Gurbinder Singh, one of the migrants at the interview, told The Indian Weekender, "There were about five to seven employers from the trucking industry. Other employers included welders and fabricators, as well. At least 20 employers were at the interview."
The migrants, who arrived on Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) only to find themselves without the jobs they were promised, began moving to new accommodation starting Thursday, and are also expected to receive increased financial support.
The migrants from India and Bangladesh who spent up to $45,000 to find jobs in New Zealand found themselves stranded in Auckland, with no job prospects and filthy living conditions. The migrants currently living in Papakura are now being moved to motels for 10 days starting Wednesday, and will also receive an allowance from the government.
“The government has provided us $320 for the 10 days we will be living in the motel,” says Singh. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had originally announced a weekly allowance of $220 for the migrants. Singh said they will receive a credit voucher when they check in to their motel.
The accommodation costs will reportedly be paid by the government. The migrants will be provided with a six-month Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa to help them find jobs. They will be able to convert their visa to a three-year work permit upon getting a job, according to Singh.
Though the new developments are welcomed by activists, calls to address the root cause of migrant exploitation have been made.
“Until and unless we address the root cause of exploitation and place really good protection measures, we will continue to see situations like this,” says Mandeep Bela, a migrant rights activist.
The INZ had found 144 migrants who arrived on AEWV living in 10 houses across Auckland in unsanitary conditions and without any income for months.
The visa is a special provision the government announced last year that enables employers to fill in critical vacancies relatively quickly, and with less red tape.
It has come under scrutiny in the last few months over concerns it is susceptible to fraud since it removes proper checks on each application. Cases of possible fraud under this category have been reported by migrants from across the world, including South America.
As of August, the INZ says at least 164 accredited employers were being investigated for a variety of offences, with officials having revoked the accreditation of six employers and put five on suspension.