11 Things to Know Before Leaving For Domestic Helper Jobs in Russia

A Filipino woman who previously worked in Hong Kong as a domestic worker, has written an open letter to fellow domestic workers in the former British colony about her experience, hoping to provide a better understanding and help them make informed decisions before deciding to pursue jobs in Russia.

In a report by The SUN, Nelle, 33, originally from Cebu is a college graduate who worked previously as domestic helper in Hong Kong.

She decided to move to Russia to work in the same field, but encountered difficulties in the process. While she is in a better situation now than during her initial stay, Noelle wants to share her first-hand experience, addressing friends who ask.

1. Visa issued to a domestic worker in Russia is not aligned with the job they’ll be taking. Most will be issued tourist or commercial visas — both of which are not eligible to work. This means domestic workers in Russia get no protection with their jobs unlike in Hong Kong where employment contracts offer protection against abuse and other forms of violation to labor laws.

2. Renewal of visas can also be a tedious process. Processing can take a year for processing so status of applicants become undocumented, hence rendering their stay in Russia illegal. In an agency, it costs up to US$3,500. Not all employers are willing to support visa costs or return ticket to the Philippines.

3. Holders of commercial or business visas need to exit Russia after three months. Failure to do so subjects the holder to arrest, imprisonment or deportation.

4. Not everyone who wish to work as domestic helper are able to work immediately upon arrival. Most will have to wait almost three months before starting a new job, especially for men and even those who have several years of experience. Most employer want to hire those with proper documentation. Thus, it is not unusual to find agencies filled with workers looking to find employers. Those who are in desperate need will have to accept lower pay and possibly vulnerable to unfair working conditions. If you’re into this situation, it’s far from the promised wages better than in Hong Kong.

5. Police checks are done often in public places. And reportedly due to the acts of other Filipinos who bribe local authorities to get by their situation, other Filipinos are also being sought for money by some unscrupulous members of law enforcement agencies. Worse, they seldom talk in English, so unless you can understand Russian, you could be in trouble. Those with expired visas who encounter the Immigration Police are headed to prison.

6. In case you are arrested and detained, the Philippine Embassy in Moscow will help you regain freedom and repatriation assistance to those who are set for deporation. However, there is no fund to buy ticket back to the Philippines. (One-way flights from Moscow to Manila can cost P18,000).

7. Those who claim to have friends, family or close ties with someone in Russia. Yes, they are great to have especially when you have yet to land or lost a job — they can provide accommodation, food and living expenses. But when it comes to visa and other legal matters, they cannot help you. Even the Philippine Embassy has limited jurisdiction since there is no bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Russia. And since you are in Russia, you are bound under Russian laws.

8. To those who wish to have stay-in jobs which are perceived safe from daily police checks, not all employers accept undocumented or tourist or commercial visa holders who wish to work. Understandably, they don’t want to be charged with aiding and abetting criminal offense. Some of whom don’t want such situation as grounds for authorities to dig deeper into their financial status.

9. To those who ask if it’s worth the risk and money: wages may be higher in Russia than in Hong Kong, but you can’t be sure if you’ll immediately find a job, let alone an employer who is ready to pay the promised salary given your visa status. Not everyone will have the same fate though — others will find success and luck, but others won’t. If you are planning on lending money to finance your Russian career, who will pay the loan or send money to the Philippines if you can’t immediately land a job?

10. Someone said she paid HK$22,000 for an “invitation” from an employer. It takes five months of work in Hong Kong to earn that amount. For quick cash returns in an uncertain employment situation, it’s a difficult gamble to make. As the saying goes, you cannot count the chicks if the eggs are hatched.

11. To those who ask “why are you still there, if you’re illegal anyway?” — we took the risk and paid for it. Napasubo na eh. We need to pay the bills, loans and send money to our families. While we still have visas and able to work, we make the most of time. When visa expires, it’s a game of hide and seek with authorities. Where else can we go from here?

So it’s up to you if you really want to work in Russia, but you cannot fault us for telling you our experience. Good luck.

(Nelle’s original post as published at The SUN is shown below.)

Marami po nag me-message sa akin na mga kakilala dati sa Hong Kong at mga kakilala nila. Nagtatanong sa kalagayan dito. Ito yung katotohanang kailangan nilang malaman na hindi sinasabi ng nag-invite (recruit) sa kanila.

1. Hindi ayon sa visa ang papasukang trabaho dito. Kumbaga, di protektado ang sinumang pupunta rito katulad ng diyan sa Hong Kong kung saan may bilateral agreement sila sa ating bansa tungkol sa pagtanggap ng mga household service worker. May kontrata na naayon sa batas na iyong panghahawakan para maproteksyunan ang iyong karapatan.

Ang renewal ng visa dito ay pahirapan. Minsan isang taon na walang processing kaya marami ang nagiging undocumented o ilegal. Hindi rin ito libre. Aabot sa USD3500 USD ang renewal ng working visa sa agency. Hindi lahat ng amo ay sinasagot ang visa o ticket mo pauwi.

2. Kung papasok ka ng Russia na ang hawak ay hindi working visa — either commercial or tourist visa lang — hindi ka pwedeng mag work. Hindi dahil ginagawa ng iba ay ok na. Ang commercial o business visa ay kailangan din i-exit pagkatapos ng 3 buwan. Kung hindi mo ito ginawa at nahuli kang lumabag sa batas nila, kulong o deportation ang magiging parusa mo.

3. Hindi lahat ng dumadating dito ay may dadatnan na trabaho. Swerte ka kung may direktang magbibigay sa yo ng work sa kilala nilang amo. Pero karamihan halos 3 buwan natatambay bago makakuha. Lalo na sa mga may edad na at mga lalaki. Karamihan sa mga amo ay mas gusto din ang may tamang dokumento. Marami ding nakapila sa mga agency para makakuha ng trabaho. At minsan dahil sa kagustuhang makakuha ng work ay pumapatol na lang sa mababang offer. Dahil may pumapayag sa maliit na salary binababaan na rin nila ang mga offer. Ibig sabihin, iyong ipinunta mo dito na malaki sanang sahod ay di hindi natutupad, at apektado na yung mga datihang kumikita sa nakasanayang rate. Marami na din ang nag aaway dahil sa sulutan sa trabaho.

4. Ke may visa o wala hindi ka makakalusot sa mga checking ng police lalo na sa mga pampublikong lugar. Dahil na din sa kagagawan ng ibang kababayang ayaw maantala sa kanilang lakad o kaya ay gustong lusutan ang kakulangan ng dokumento at nagbibigay na lang sa mga parak… ito ay kanila na ding nakanasanayan. Bawat Pilipino na kanilang nasisita ay hinihingan nila ng pera. Hindi naman lahat pero pag natapat nga, malas, lalo pa at pahirapang makipag usap dahil hindi sila nakakaintindi ng English. Pag Immigration Police ang natapatan at paso na ang visa, talagang makukulong ka. Di yun kayang bayaran tulad ng iba.

Kapag nahuli at nadetain: Tumutulong ang Embahada sa mga na detain na kababayan para makalabas, at repatriation assistance naman sa mga nakatakdang i-deport ngunit walang perang pambili ng tiket pauwi sa Pilipinas. Ang “deportation” ay desisyon ng korte na pauwiin ang sinumang lumabag sa batas ng Russia. Hindi ito ang sinasabi ng ilan na solusyong ginagawa ng Embahada sa problema nga mga Pilipino dito. Dahil ang deportation ay magmumula sa Russian government at hindi sa Embahada.

5. “May kamag-anak/kapatid/karelasyon/kadikit ako diyan sa Russia” – Ang tanging advantage lang nyan ay may malalapitan ka o mapuntahan kapag nawalan ka ng trabaho. Pero sa usaping visa at legalidad dito wala silang magagawa at maitutulong sa iyo. Kahit ang Embahada ay di ka matutulungan sa usaping may kinalaman sa visa dahil wala pang kasunduan ang Pilipinas at Russia ukol dito. Batas ng Russia pa rin ang masusunod.

6. “Mag stay-in job na lang ako para safe.” – Hindi lahat ng amo tumatanggap ng undocumented. Ayaw din nilang masabit o ma-involve sa mga usaping legal dahil karamihan ng mga amo dito ay ayaw ding makalkal ang kanilang financial status.

7. “Worth it ba ang gagastusin ko makapunta lang jan?” – Maaring malaki ang sahod dito kumpara diyan pero sigurado ka ba na ok ang dadatnan mo? Kanya-kanya pa rin ang swerte sa amo at trabaho. Kung ipangungutang mo ang pang placement mo at di ka agad makapasok ng work dito, ano ipambabayad mo at ipapadala sa pamilya mo? Kung di sasapat ang visa na naibigay sa iyo at aabutan ka ng expiration dito ng di ka pa tapos sa mga bayarin mo, ano ang gagawin mo?

May mga nakakusap akong nagbigay na daw ng HK$22,000 para sa “invitation” (ng amo). Magkano ang sahod sa HK para makapaglabas ka ng cash na $22,000? Aminin na natin na inutang mo sa bangko ang ibinayad mo kasi sabi ng agent mababawi mo rin pagdating dito. Kabayan, hindi niyo pa alam ang dadatnan ninyo dito. Huwag munang magbilang ng sisiw habang hindi pa pisa ang itlog.

8. “Bakit kayo andyan pa rin kung di naman pala kayo legal diyan?” – Sa mga nandito na… napasubo na, eh. Need magbayad ng utang, need magpadala sa pamilya. Pag may visa pa at ok ang work, ipon muna. Siyempre nagdadasal din na sana maging ok na ang lagay dito. Sa walang visa… patintero sa mga parak ang bagsak. Tagu-taguan. Same reason lang din. Nandito na eh, napasubo na. May bayarin at may obligasyon.

Ngayon alam mo na na ganito pala gusto mo pa rin magpunta?

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