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Macau shuts door to tourists looking for work

24 June 2020

By The SUN

Macau plugs a loophole that allows tourists to land a job in the city (Macau Daily Times photo)  
Macau lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill that prevents tourists from seeking a job during their visit, and eventually getting a non-resident work permit, more commonly known here as a “blue card”.

The measure, which was initiated by the government, was passed by the Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday, Jun 23. It will take effect 90 days after its publication in the Official Gazette.

It applies to all non-professional foreign workers and those who work as domestic helpers, but not to those hired as professional workers.

The bill amends the law on the hiring of non-resident workers, which came into force in 2010. Under this law, non-locals who acquire a work permit under this category are not entitled to right of abode or permanent residency.

Previously, tourists could enter Macau, and upon securing a job contract with a local employer, apply to change their visitor visa status into that of a non-resident worker.

Under the amended law, a local employer must first secure an “arrival notification” from the Public Security Police, which runs the city’s immigration service, for a non-local worker to enter Macau. This will distinguish the incoming worker from a mere tourist.
Once the worker is issued with a “stay permit”, he or she can already apply to have the “blue card” of a non-resident worker.

The government has said the new law will enable immigration officers to identify whether a person arriving in Macao is coming in as a tourist, or as someone already hired by a local employer.
Macau locked its borders as part of anti-virus measures, trapping hundreds of job hunters from overseas

Among those who will be hardly hit by the new measure are the thousands of Filipinos who flock to Macau on a regular basis, all hoping to land a job without paying thousands of pesos to a recruitment agency in Manila, apart from numerous government fees.

Many are unlucky but still stay on, gambling on hopes of eventually finding one that could help lift their family back in the Philippines out of difficulty, if not poverty.

Their plight came into focus when Macau shut down all its casinos and isolated itself in early February, in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

In a further tightening of restrictions, even blue card holders who were away on vacation were barred from re-entering Macau starting Mar 19, as part of the city’s anti-epidemic measures.

The lockdown resulted in many Filipino job hunters finding themselves trapped in the city, with no work, no money, and with no means to get on a flight back to the Philippines.

Hundreds of Filipinos who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic added to the number of those stranded in the enclave. They are now all hoping to be repatriated as quickly as possible to avert further hardships.

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