HK relaxes visa restrictions on foreign domestic workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Jan Yumul , ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2020 04:24 PM

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Government has announced it would "flexibly consider" foreign domestic workers' applications to extend their stay in the city as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The Hong Kong Labor Department said foreign domestic workers concerned may apply for extension of stay for a maximum period of one month if they are unable to return to their place of origin due to international travel restrictions over the virus outbreak.

"In view of the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, which might affect the arrival and departure of FDHs (foreign domestic helpers) from/to their place of origin, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will flexibly consider applications from FDHs to extend their stay in Hong Kong as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong if their existing contract is due to expire or is terminated on or before July 31, 2020," said a Labor Department spokesperson.

Under the existing mechanism, a domestic worker on a renewed contract with the same employer or those about to start a new contract with a new employer upon the expiry of an existing contract may apply to the ImmD for deferring home leave for no more than one year from end of contract.

Meanwhile, the immigration department, on individual case merits, will exercise discretion to grant the extension to defer the home leave for not more than six months.

"Arrangements should be made for the FDH to return to his/her place of origin for vacation within the extended period, and to use his/her entry visa (with a validity in line with the extension of stay granted) upon his/her return to Hong Kong for completion of the contract," the spokesperson said.