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3 FDWs with visas that expire during quarantine bumped off CX flight

08 September 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

3 of the HK-bound workers were not allowed to board their CX flight despite having valid visas

The lack of clear and comprehensive guidelines covering foreign domestic workers bound for Hong Kong have caused three Filipina migrant workers to be bumped off their Cathay Pacific flight yesterday, Sept 7.

Airline staff told them they could not board the flight because their employment visas would expire while they were in quarantine.

Despite repeated pleas and last-minute attempts to convince the ground staff that they had been told by no less than the Immigration Department that they could enter Hong Kong because their visas are still valid, the workers were turned away.

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One of the desperate workers even showed an email from the Immigration Department that verified that she could still land in Hong Kong, to no avail.

G.N.O., another of the three, was particularly upset because she had been stuck in the Philippines since she went there with her employer early this year, and was hit by Hong Kong’s flight ban imposed on Apr 20.

As the expiration of her contract got closer, she and her employer began looking into the possibility of having it renewed online. But a post on Immigration’s website was clear: online renewal of contracts could only be done if the worker is physically present in Hong Kong, and could pick up the visa in person when it’s released.


With her spirits dampened by the clear advisory, G.N.O could only hope that the flight ban would be lifted before her visa expired, or she would have to face re-applying for contract processing from the Philippines.

Then the unexpected happened. Hong Kong announced that beginning Aug 30, all workers vaccinated in the Philippines could enter.

However, with it came another blow. G.N.O. learned her booking at a hotel that would have ensured her a more comfortable stay had to be canceled because Hong Kong decreed that all workers who were vaccinated in the Philippines, new or returning, must only stay at Silka Tsuen Wan hotel.


Undaunted, she got her employer to book her a place in Silka, then continued to prepare well for her departure, even signing up with the prestigious St Luke’s Hospital in Taguig City for her RT-PCR test to make sure her result was accurate and credible.

Not leaving anything to chance, her employer also got their company secretary to inquire directly with HK Immigration to confirm her right to enter despite her visa expiring on Sept. 16, and was assured that there would be no problem.

Imagine her dismay when the Cathay check-in crew told her Immigration could not override very clear quarantine rules drawn up by another government body. To pacify them, the crew called some number in Hong Kong but still came back with the same answer.

No amount of pleading, begging, or angry outbursts helped any of the OFWs to convince the airline staff to change their minds.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Given that two airlines plying the Manila to Hong Kong route have both been meted two-week suspensions for flying in a number of infected passengers, it appeared obvious to them the Cathay crew would rather err on the side of caution.

Cathay might have been over-cautious because of HK's strict pre-boarding rules

The only positive outcome from their harrowing ordeal at Ninoy Aquino International Airport was that Silka Hotel allowed them to rebook their stay, which costs all of $16,800 for the 21-day quarantine.

Marami din daw nagpa rebook dahil nagkaproblema katulad ko,” said G. “Nag-suggest pa nga ang hotel na sa Cebu ako manggaling dahil hindi daw masyadong mahigpit doon.” (They said a lot of people have asked to be rebooked because they encountered problems during check-in like me. They even suggested I fly out from Cebu because the airline staff there are not as strict).

Tired, angry and despondent, the three decided to spend the night together, thanks to the generosity of G’s employer who allowed them to stay in her place, as upset as she was about how the workers were treated.

Today, they contacted various groups that could help them, including the recruitment agencies helping the two. G’s employer, on the other hand, got Immigration to put in writing that the worker, as resident, should be allowed entry because her visa is valid until Sept 16.

They all plan to rebook flights to Hong Kong within the next few days, knowing full well that being stuck in the Philippines with an expired visa would give them a bigger headache.

Unknown to them, Immigration has given assurance to a group of employment agencies in Hong Kong that all expired or expiring visas of incoming workers would be extended within just a week.

Part of a letter sent to Thomas Chan, chair of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies reads:  “For those FDHs whose entry visa is expired or going to expire prior to their intended arrival in Hong Kong, Immigration Department will apply due flexibility in processing applications for re-issuance of visas to facilitate their timely arrival in Hong Kong.”

Chan said Immigration has been true to its promise, after being told that about 30% of all stranded workers in the Philippines and Indonesia have visas that will expire days before their 21-day hotel stay ends.

"Before Immigration didn't want to accept applications for extension if the visa is still valid, but now they have accepted my suggestion to renew visas one month before they expire," said Chan.

Had Immigration communicated this as clearly to all affected workers and employers, Filipinos who have struggled for months to clear all hurdles in coming or returning to their jobs in Hong Kong would have been spared further despair.



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