Immigration New Zealand staff have been alerting their managers for a year about significant flaws in the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) system. Despite their concerns, their warnings have been disregarded. The staff are worried that the AEWV system enables employers to bring in migrants without proper documentation or financial checks, even in cases where jobs might be fake, funded by illegal payments, or where migrants could face exploitation.
Instead of addressing these issues, the staff claim they have been instructed to prioritize faster processing times. This has led to a situation where migrants are potentially being exploited and businesses are gaining accreditation when they shouldn't have.
The AEWV system was launched to streamline the work visa process by allowing employers to apply for accreditation to hire overseas workers. However, critics argue that it has inadvertently led to an increase in migrant exploitation, with migrants paying large sums, up to $30,000, for jobs that often don't exist.
In response to these concerns, an independent review of the AEWV system has been initiated at the direction of Immigration Minister Andrew Little. Despite the urgent need for change, the staff claim that upper management has downplayed the severity of the problems.
Immigration New Zealand staff reveal that they were instructed to skip checks on most applications under the AEWV scheme. Only two out of nearly 28,000 applicants were declined accreditation. The staff feel pressured to make quick decisions and overlook risks.
Recently, Alison McDonald, MBIE’s deputy secretary of immigration, expressed support for the minister's decision to conduct an independent review. However, some staff members find her statements ironic, as they believe the system is deeply flawed and they are not truly doing a good job.
The sources also emphasize that there is a lack of scrutiny on employers entering the country, which may result in the entry of unscrupulous employers. Despite some revocations and suspensions of accreditation, staff members remain concerned about potentially thousands of problematic employers slipping through the system.
Critics and sources within INZ suggest that the current system's approach to processing times and reducing red tape has led to significant flaws and corner-cutting. They argue that a balance should be struck between facilitating migrant labor and maintaining the integrity of the visa system.
In response to the claims made by staff members, McDonald defended the AEWV system, emphasizing the need to find a balance between enabling necessary migrant labor and preventing exploitation. She mentioned that risk settings are reviewed and adjusted regularly to ensure compliance.