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HK Immigration to allow stranded FDHs to extend visa further

30 June 2020

By The SUN

All stranded migrant workers can apply for a further visa extension, but those terminated will remain as 'visitors'

All foreign domestic helpers, whether currently employed or terminated, can now apply for a further visa extension if they are still unable to return to their home countries because of travel and quarantine restrictions.

This was announced today, Jun 30, in a press release issued by the Hong Kong government.

Those who may avail of the visa extension are divided into three categories:
(1)  those whose contracts with their current employers are about to expire, or have already been extended,
(2)  those who have renewed their contracts or moved to a new employer but have yet to exit for their home leave, and
(3)  those who were terminated and are on visitor visas.
According to the announcement, employment contracts that will expire on or before Sept 30 this year can be extended up to Oct 31, upon the mutual agreement of the employer and the worker.

If the contract had already been extended previously under the “flexibility arrangement” scheme announced by the government on Feb 4 and Mar 19, the employer may ask for a further extension of the period of employment and stay of the FDH until Oct 31.

“The flexibility arrangement aims to assist those employers whose contracts with their existing FDHs are due to expire soon, but are in the situation where the newly hired FDHs cannot fly in to commence the new contract,” said the government statement.
For those who have already renewed their contracts with the same employer, or have moved to a new employer after finishing their previous contract, the one-year deadline for taking a home leave or to “exit” Hong Kong, has been extended further.

Previously, in line with an announcement issued on Mar 21, those who could not fly out for their home leave were given an extension of no more than six months.

Today, that extension has been made longer for FDHs who are still unable to fly home, even after getting the six-month reprieve.

According to the announcement, Immigration may, “on individual case merits, consider exercising discretion to grant them a further extension of limit of stay for not more than three months.”

That means that the worker must still leave Hong Kong no later than 21 months since taking up the new employment. Immigration says that within the extended period of a further three months, the employer must arrange for the worker to return home “and to use his/her entry visa (with a validity in line with the extension of stay granted) upon his/her return to Hong Kong for completion of the contract.”
 
Terminated OFWs like these NGO clients, will just have more time to look for new employers
As for those whose contracts were cut prematurely, the statement said they can apply to have their visitor visa extended further so they can look for a new employer, but only up to a month.

“An FDH who has already extended his/her limit of stay as a visitor in Hong Kong under the flexibility arrangement announced on (Mar 21) may submit an application to ImmD to further extend his/her limit of stay as a visitor for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong,” said the statement.

But it warned Immigration will still decide on the applications on a case-to-case basis, or “depending on individual case merits under the special circumstances arising from the pandemic.”

It would appear, though, that once the terminated worker has secured a new job, he or she will still have to return home before being allowed to start working for the new employer.

A plea from Consul General Raly Tejada for the terminated workers to process a new work contract while in Hong Kong, then take up the new job without going back to the Philippines, remains a grey matter.

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