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Special cases: How do I process a domestic helper visa without an agency?

Hiring a Filipino domestic helper without an agency

There are certain circumstances where you can apply for a domestic helper visa without an agency. All domestic helpers who are terminated prematurely should leave Hong Kong within 14 days of termination. However, there are some circumstances under which Hong Kong Immigration may treat the case as a “special case”.  In these cases, the domestic helper can process locally in Hong Kong without returning home.

Although there is no written guidance on this, in our experience, domestic helpers who are leaving one of the following situations may be treated as a “special case”:

  • their employer died
  • their employer relocated outside of Hong Kong
  • their employer entered a period of financial difficulty

Note: the employer in question must be the legal employer who signed the contract

If this is the case, you may be able to process the domestic helper visa without an agency. But we are also happy to take care of this for you. We will help prepare the documents, make the submissions, and keep you in the loop of all the important updates. No hidden fees, and we never charge fees to workers. See our pricing and what’s included HERE. To get started, just fill up our form and we will get back to you.

Fair Agency’s Free, Step-by-Step Guide to Hiring a Domestic Helper without an Agency:

STEP 1: Pick up & sign the contracts

Employers or domestic helpers can pick up the contracts and supporting information from Hong Kong Immigration. You don’t need an appointment for this.

You will be given four copies of the contract. All four copies should be signed by the employer and domestic helper and should be completed identically. If there are any mistakes, sign next to the revision.

  • One copy each for:
    • the employer,
    • the domestic helper,
    • HK Immigration submission, and
    • Submission at Philippine Overseas Labor Office

STEP 2: Submit documents to Hong Kong Immigration

The earliest the application can be submitted to Immigration is 4 weeks before the contract end date. Please note that Immigration requires the Worker to finish one contract before starting a new one.

Domestic helpers should submit the contract and supporting documents to Hong Kong Immigration in one of the following ways:

  • Book an appointment online
  • Walk-in interview at Hong Kong Immigration Department (Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai)
  • NOTE: These options may not be available due to COVID-19 measures, instead a Drop Box may be available for documents: please check Immigration Department’s “Messages from Us” for latest update.

Photocopies of the employer’s:

  • HKID
  • Passport and visa (if not a permanent resident),
  • Proof of address (a recent utility bill is best)
  • Proof of income (recent bank statements showing a salary deposit of at least HK$15,000 for 3 months or total assets of more than HK$350,000)
  • Release letter for previous domestic helper (if applicable)
  • COVID-19 Requirement: Employer must sign an undertaking indicates that employers will arrange for the COVID-19 test and hotel quarantine for their FDHs, and be responsible for the relevant costs when their FDHs are arriving on or after July 25, 2020. The undertaking can be downloaded from the website of ImmD or obtained free of charge from the Immigration Department Headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices.
  • Photocopies of the domestic helper’s:
    • HKID
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • Landing slip
    • Previous contract
    • Release letter from the previous employer

You can expect an update from them by post about the visa release date. Usually this takes around 2 weeks.

NOTE: There may be several weeks delays to visa release due to COVID-19. Keep copies of documents and note down submission date for reference.

STEP 3: Processing & visa release

Usually, there will be additional in-person appointments at Immigration, however due to COVID, the process has been changed. You will be notified of the visa release date by mail. The timeline for notification varies as it is based on the worker’s last working date.

STEP 4: Pick up visa at Immigration

At this appointment, the visa will be released. Domestic helpers should attend in person with:

  • Original passport
  • One copy of contract
  • Visa fee as stated in the letter (HK$230 or HK$460)

STEP 5: Document Submission for Notarisation

Next, your domestic helper needs to submit two copies of the signed employment contracts to the Consulate of their native country for notarisation. There is a fee for this service and you should reimburse your domestic helper for this.

For Workers from the Philippines, these are the steps:

  • Attach the completed OFW Information Sheet (here) to the new Employment Contract with other supporting documents (see next point)
  • Documents for submission:
  • Go to Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), located at:Office No.2. 29/F United Centre,
    No. 95 Queensway Admiralty, Hong Kong
    Hotline Numbers:
    POLO: 5529 1880
    OWWA: 6345 9324
  • To POLO, pay HK$196 OWWA Membership Fee and HK$80 Contract Notarisation/Verification Fee. Make sure to keep the original receipt! the OWWA Membership is important for the domestic helper’s future Overseas Employment Clearance (OEC) and needs to be renewed every time they change employers.

STEP 6: Pick up Notarised Documents

  • Processing takes about 6 -9 working days if all documents are submitted correctly. NOTE: there may be delays during times of COVID-19.
  • Starting 11 October, verified contracts will be mailed back. See advisory: HERE
  • Then, the notarised documents (contracts) can be picked up at the Philippine Consulate, not POLO. 
    • Office No.2. 14/F United Centre,
      No. 95 Queensway Admiralty, Hong Kong
      Hotline Numbers:
      POLO: 5529 1880
      OWWA: 6345 9324
  • To pick up the notarised contracts, bring HKID and original receipt.

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Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency. We put a lot of work into producing high quality, accurate and updated information resources because when employers and domestic helpers are informed, they are empowered to make good choices.

If you found this article helpful, please consider donating to support us through Fair Employment Foundation, a registered section 88 charity in Hong Kong, which builds social businesses (like us!) to make migrant recruitment fair to workers & fair to employers.

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Last updated on August 31st, 2021
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