Liquidation of BuildHub and the workers stranded in its aftermath

By Bradley So

The liquidation of BuildHub, an Auckland based construction-focused labour hire company, was a surprise to all and unfortunately left many of their migrant workers stranded.

Migrants must have a valid visa to remain in New Zealand lawfully, and the liquidation of BuildHub means that these workers were essentially left holding a dead visa. They cannot be expected to continue working for a company that is being liquidated but their visa conditions specifically state that they can only work for BuildHub. This has left many migrant workers wondering what they can do and what options are available to them.

If your employer goes under, you will need to act fast to regularise your immigration status. If your visa is based on employment and you no longer hold employment, this means the circumstances no longer meet the criteria under which your visa was granted, and as such, you can be made liable for deportation.  Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will usually give a grace period of around 2 months, but the onus is on you to be proactive about your situation. INZ has also warned migrants to not travel to New Zealand on work visas based on BuildHub. Now that the company is being liquidated, the work visas are no good for travelling.

Changing the conditions on your visa and finding a new employer

Most workers will want to continue working, which will mean securing a new job offer and applying to INZ for a ‘Job Change’. This is a specific type of application that changes the conditions of your visa, it will replace your old employer with a new one and allow you to work for them. However, this is not the same as getting a new work visa. Many of the other conditions on your visa will still be the same, including the time you’re allowed to stay in New Zealand before your visa expires. A Job Change will not renew or add more time to your visa.

Ideally, migrant workers will find new jobs with accredited employers. However, INZ recognizes that expecting so many migrants to find accredited employers so quickly will be difficult and is willing to discuss this with them. If you are affected by the BuildHub liquidation and have a job offer from someone who isn’t accredited or doesn’t have an open job check, you can contact INZ directly at:

If your partner or child are in New Zealand with you, and their visas are based on their relationship with you, they currently do not need to do anything.

Migrant Exploitation and Protection Visa (MEPV)

This visa category is for migrants that have reported real cases of worker exploitation. It lets you quickly leave your current job and find new work while the employer is investigated.

However, the MEPV does not apply to the liquidation of BuildHub. BuildHub was already investigated and cleared of any wrongdoing before its liquidation, and things that affect the operation of a business like liquidation aren’t considered exploitation. This means that the knock-on effects such as the inability to pay wages or the resulting breaches of employment agreements are not considered exploitation.

“Exploitation” has a specific meaning for the MEPV. It must be the sustained employer behavior that causes/risks causing material harm to the economic/social/physical/emotional well-being of a migrant worker. This means that the MEPV can’t be used for the liquidation of BuildHub, as it is the business being closed down rather than sustained employer behavior that is causing issues.

Liquidation of the ELE Group

The liquidation of BuildHub occurred soon after the liquidation of the ELE Group, a bigger labour hire company. Queen City Law successfully assisted 27 migrant workers affected by the ELE liquidation and we are happy to assist anyone affected by the BuildHub liquidation as well. You can read more about this at:

Our team of experts would be more than happy to help you with all of your immigration needs. You can contact us via email:

We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and it should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should always be sought before any decision or action is taken.