Can domestic helpers process in Hong Kong since it is difficult to travel with COVID-19?
Covid-19 difficulties : Processing helper visas in Hong Kong
With the travel challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many domestic helpers and their employers are asking if it would be possible for domestic helpers to stay in Hong Kong while processing their new visas.
Normally, domestic helpers with broken or terminated contracts are required to return home while their visa is in processing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong Immigration may make an exemption and allow these domestic helpers to process locally but the final decision of visa approval lies solely with the Hong Kong Immigration.
14-day permission to remain after end-of-contract
When a domestic helper’s contract is terminated, she is permitted to remain in Hong Kong for 2 weeks after the termination of the contract or the remainder of the permitted stay, whichever is earlier (HK Gov). Because of this, the domestic helper must submit a new visa application within 14-days of termination of their previous employment contract.
Potential visa rejections
- The decision to provide exemption is with the Immigration Officer handling the case and an exemption is not guaranteed.
- Be aware that applications are being reviewed with greater scrutiny. If the domestic helper’s work history shows two or more short contracts – meaning the contract was terminated early or cancelled during processing, there is a higher chance that their application may be rejected. If the domestic helper’s previous employer filed any complaints to the Immigration, the Immigration officer will take that into consideration of the approval of the visa application too.
- Read “Immigration Department figures reveal a 93 per cent increase over two years in visa rejections issued to helpers suspected of ‘job hopping’” (SCMP, February 2021)
- “A total of 840 employment visa applications by foreign domestic helpers suspected of “job-hopping” were rejected in the first five months of this year, according to the Immigration Department. The number is higher than the combined total of rejected visa application for the past three years, which totaled only 751.”http://www.sunwebhk.com/2021/06/immigration-rejects-visa-applications.html?fbclid=IwAR0vvqA_G0jO0bdqR_PvRU-g-boG5dvUf7xZuxXo4Bm1AD6b6yQhO6vS0bU (Sun, June 2021)
What do you need?
When submitting to the Hong Kong Immigration Department, the domestic helper should prepare a letter to request to be able to process locally and supporting documents. This can include:
- An explanation that the current COVID-19 restrictions and measures will mean that she will not be able to report to work at the necessary time. However, the government announced the flexibility arrangements to assist foreign domestic helpers and their employers under the epidemic of Covid – including extending their contracts and deferring returning their origin places – will be discontinued by May 2023.
- Show that there are limited travel options to her hometown. This could be a screenshot of a flight search showing the limited/expensive flights available. There may also be information about limited transportation from the airport to her hometown.
- An explanation for leaving the current contract
- Any supporting letter from the current employer
It would be helpful if the new employer can write a supporting letter to the Immigration too.
Does processing locally mean that timelines will be the same as finished-contract processing?
No. Processing timelines for broken and terminated contracts are longer than that for domestic helpers with finished contracts. Even with permission to process locally, the process will take at least 6-8 weeks minimum.
Get in touch with Fair Agency to help you and your domestic helper with this process with our Direct Hire service.
You may also like:
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- What does domestic helper hiring look like now with the impact of COVID-19?
- Quick guide for Employers of Domestic Helpers
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Last updated on December 20th, 2022