Company cleared of wrongdoing in South American migrant exploitation case: Immigration NZ finds no evidence of criminal offences by Buildhub, accused of deceiving migrants with fake job contracts. Despite the outcome, migrant workers have been granted Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas. Communication issues and ongoing investigations prompt review of the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme.
In a recent development, Immigration NZ has found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by a company accused of deceiving South American migrants with fake job contracts under the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme. The investigation included interviews with complainants, collection of significant documentation, and interviews with the company, Buildhub, to gather their account of the situation. Although migrant exploitation and other serious offences were considered, the investigation did not meet the high threshold required for criminal prosecution.
Despite the investigation's outcome, many migrant workers who claimed they did not receive the jobs or hours they had signed up for have been granted Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas (MEPV). Jorge Arriaza, a former employee from Chile, expressed surprise at the investigation's conclusion. Arriaza believes that all the evidence against Buildhub should have been considered, and he views the outcome as a mockery to the victims.
According to James Friend, the national manager of Immigration Investigations, the investigation concluded that Buildhub did not commit any criminal wrongdoing under the Immigration Act 2009. However, due to privacy reasons, Friend could not provide further comments. The migrant workers with exploitation visas will not have them revoked, but greater monitoring of Buildhub in the accreditation and post-accreditation process will be requested from Immigration New Zealand's Risk and Verification team.
The investigation revealed certain communication issues between Buildhub, its employees, and Immigration NZ. These issues may have contributed to the miscommunication and misunderstandings surrounding the job conditions for the migrant workers. Immigration NZ has advised the complainants to visit the Employment New Zealand website's early resolution page if they wish to pursue the complaint further.
In July last year, approximately 250 individuals from South American countries arrived in New Zealand on work and visitor visas associated with Buildhub, an approved accredited employer by Immigration NZ. Complainants from Chile and Colombia claimed that they had borrowed large sums of money to travel to New Zealand, lured by promises of high-paying construction jobs at Buildhub. However, upon arrival, some migrants discovered they had no jobs, while others were offered significantly fewer working hours than initially promised.
As of February 2, Immigration NZ has received 1985 complaints against accredited employers, with 167 active investigations currently underway. Accreditation has been revoked for 136 employers, while 51 have been suspended. Additionally, there are 51 employers who are currently being assessed for potential accreditation revocation. The AEWV scheme is currently under review.