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Relief as Filipina gets visa extension after unwittingly overstaying for 5 months

22 July 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Albo on a recent hike. She wasn't aware she had been in HK illegally for 5 months

While Filipina helper and avid photo bug Thonie Albo was going up trails in Hong Kong’s countryside recently, she did not realize that she was already staying in Hong Kong illegally. 

She only learned this when staff from an employment agency that was processing her new work contract informed her on Jul 18 that she had already breached immigration laws by overstaying her employment visa.

It turned out her former employer had neglected to inform the Immigration Department that Albo had reconsidered her resignation in February.

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Albo, 40, was confident that her visa was still valid because she herself had sent the department a letter in February canceling her resignation notice as her employer had pleaded with her to stay on until her contract expires.

For some reason that letter did not reach Immigration so Albo didn’t know that her visa was cancelled 14 days after her notice period had lapsed.

After being assured by a friend that she should be able to sort out her problem as she had documents to prove her case, Albo went to the Immigration Tower in Wanchai to explain her side.

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She told the officer that she was prevailed upon by her employer to finish her contract on Aug. 8, and not leave on Mar 20 as she had stated in her notice of termination.

Albo told the officer she sent a letter to Immigration also in February, asking the department to cancel her termination notice. She showed the officer a copy of that letter.

But the officer was still not satisfied. He gave Albo a form to fill and instructed her to ask her employer for a longer written explanation on what happened.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Early yesterday afternoon, Albo returned to the Immigration Department with the required documents. By 4pm, she was already on her way home with a new visa that is valid until Aug 11.

It turned out Albo’s employer did not notify Immigration about the cancellation of the termination notice as she wanted the helper to sign up for a new contract.

After failing to convince Albo to stay on, the employer then refused to give her an early release, even if she said she wanted to use her 14 days’ annual leave.

The helper said the employer did not even look concerned when informed by Albo last Saturday evening about her having overstayed.

Ayaw pa nga akong pagreportin, feeling po niya hindi urgent. Sabi ko huhulihin na ako ng pulis,” the maid said.
(She didn’t even want me to report back (to Immigration), she feels it wasn’t urgent. I told her, the police are about to arrest me)

Albo said that midway through her two-year contract, she had already thought of leaving because of a lack of sleep, her employer’s tantrums and lack of concern for her.

Ni hindi man lang nila ako kinuhanan ng health insurance. Ako naman ang mag-suffer kung di ako lilipat,” she said when asked why she was leaving the employer and her two and a half year ward.
(She didn’t take out a health insurance for me. I would have suffered if I didn’t leave).

With Aug 8 barely three weeks away, Albo is excited at finally moving on to her next employers, an Indian family.

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