Terminated Domestic Workers Won’t Get Visa Extension, Told to Leave HK to Decongest Agency Dormitories

Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong who were terminated will no longer be granted visa extension and told to leave Hong Kong immediately in order to decongest boarding houses run by employment agencies.

Secretary for Labour Law Chi-kwong made the announcement in a press conference on Aug 21.

“In the next few days, the Immigration Department will clear the backlog of applications as we want to reduce the length of stay in boarding facilities to just a few days,” said Law.

For those who finished their employment contracts and are moving to a new employer, the processing time will be cut from the current 4-6 weeks to just two weeks, Law added. There were those granted exemptions, especially in exceptional cases where the cause of termination of employment was the relocation of the employer or financial in nature.

A boarding dorm at the Bethune House shelter. Credit: PLUG Magazine

“For applicants with terminated contracts the Immigration Department will ask the reason for the termination…and in suspicious cases, they will be asked to leave Hong Kong at once.”

Due to the limited number of flights available, or strict travel restrictions imposed by their home countries, thousands of foreign domestic workers with terminated employment have been allowed to stay in Hong Kong.

Those who cannot justify their continued stay in Hong Kong will be told to leave the territory at once. The Immigration Department has undertaken measures to speed up the processing of domestic worker visa applications in the wake of infections among Indonesian workers staying in agency-run shelters.

According to the Centre for Health Protection, 17 Indonesian maids who stayed in seven different agency shelters have tested positive for Covid-19.

Law, however, noted that the rate of new cases among foreign domestic workers is much lower than the city’s general population. Of the 1,800 specimen samples from FDHs who stay in agency-run shelters, only one tested positive, for a .008 positivity rate. Targeted tests done on other sectors in the community yielded a .01% positive result, The SUN reported.

Employment agencies will be offered a free test of their recruits who are about to move in with their new employers. This is aligned with government measures to reduce the number of FDHs arriving in the city and allow those whose contracts have concluded to remain in the city if they have difficulty exiting to their home countries.

Law said that before the start of the pandemic, an average of 580 domestic workers arriving in the city. After the government enforced the new policy, the average number was reduced to about 100 per day. However, since imposing the precondition of negative COVID-19 test result before flying into Hong Kong on Jul 25, the number further dwindled down to just about 30 arrivals daily.

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