Government urged to expand residency criteria to MIQ security staff

Pressure is mounting on the Government to expand resident visa criteria to security staff in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

It is believed hundreds don't qualify for a fast-tracked visa and they want the Immigration Minister to act.

Many deal with COVID-19 cases daily.

"We are risking our lives to be very closely in contact with them. Some of the guests are very stubborn and they're not wearing masks," one worker who doesn't want to be identified says.

They don't feel supported by the Government because 165,000 migrants are now eligible for a fast-tracked one-off resident visa.

They must have lived here for at least three years, earn over the median wage or work in a specific industry; like health, education or primary industries.

One worker has been in New Zealand for two years and earns $23 an hour.

"They didn't include MIQ in their jobs list, it's just heartbreaking," they say.

Mat Danaher from the E tū union says there is a need to recognise the work being done by MIQ guards.

And the message to the Government is simple.

"Please look out for us as well because if not then I think many of us will leave this job," the worker says.

National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says it's unacceptable.

"This Government is prioritising migrants who don't even have to prove they have a job over these border workers who go to work every day for 12-hour shifts in full PPE to keep us safe and that just reeks of policy on the hoof."

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi wasn't available for an interview and wouldn't say if the Government is considering expanding the residency criteria. He said in a statement the visa eligibility is reasonably broad and if people don't meet it there are other options available to them.

The worker says: "I have trust in the New Zealand Government. They will make changes but if not I'm thinking, is it good, is it possible to move to another country?"