PH Consulate Warns HK OFWs vs Russia Jobs as 20 Filipinos Deported

Hong Kong-based Filipino workers have been warned once again against taking offers from recruiters who invite them into working in Russia as 20 Filipinos were deported after their tourist or commercial visa in the country had expired.

The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has made the advisory after the Philippine Embassy in Moscow helped repatriate 20 Filipinos whose tourist or commercial visas expired and whose status in Russia has become illegal.

“We would like to remind the public … there is no visa category in Russia for (domestic workers); holders of tourist or commercial visa are not allowed to work (there), and improperly documented workers are subject to detention, fines and deportation,” the advisory said.

The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong likewise urged the public to report illegal recruitment activities in Hong Kong through its email [email protected] or at phone number 9155 4023.

A similar warning was issued by the Consulate in recent years, but the illegal recruitment of Filipinos as domestic workers to Russia has apparently continued.

The June 28 repatriation of 20 Filipinos from Russia has been described as “the highest monthly figure so far,” said the Philippine embassy in Moscow, adding in a press release that OFWs were forced to return home than stay in Russia as undocumented residents and risk arrest and heavy fines.

Of the repatriated Filipinos, two had been arrested by police while the rest sought help from the Philippine embassy. They were given shelter and food by the embassy’s assistance to nationals section while their papers were being processed.

“We understand that no OFW wants to go home abruptly, especially through deportation. The fact that our nationals came to the Embassy for assistance in this regard means that they were really left with no choice,” said Ambassador Carlos D. Sorreta.

The Philippine embassy in Moscow estimates that there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Filipinos staying in Russia, mostly employed as nannies and cleaners.

While there is no formal visa category for domestic workers in Russia for Filipinos, many of whom obtain visas through illegal recruiters who pay large sums to “visa agencies” who misrepresent them as highly-qualified white collar workers. Others obtain visas as students or tourists.

“We observed that the recruitment of Filipinos by unauthorized entities – especially from Hong Kong and other third countries – led to a situation where the number of work visas available for Filipinos, even the ones that misrepresent their actual work and employers, is no longer enough,” said Vice Consul Jeffrey A. Valdez.

Performing jobs with visas from agencies — notably as tourists, commercial (business visitors), and students whose visa restrictions do not allow them to work — is against both Russian and Philippines laws, Amb. Sorreta said.

“The continuous entry of Filipinos in violation of immigration rules makes that task even more challenging,” he added.

Sorreta and Valdez on May 28 had a dialogue with around 100 Filipino victims of a Russian visa agent who vanished with their money and passports, to discuss the options available to them under Philippine and Russian laws.