Facts on Hong Kong permanent residency
HONG KONG—A Hong Kong court has ruled as unconstitutional a law banning foreign maids from permanent residency in a landmark move sparking heated debate in the Asian financial hub.
The legal action brought by Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a domestic helper from the Philippines who has lived in the city since 1986, has cast a spotlight on the treatment of Hong Kong’s army of 292,000 domestic helpers.
Vallejos, a 59-year-old mother of five, challenged the restriction, saying it was unconstitutional and discriminatory, while the government argued it was appropriate.
Here are some key facts about the permanent residency and why it matters to foreign domestic helpers:
— Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, foreigners who entered Hong Kong with valid travel documents and have “ordinarily resided” in the city for seven years continuously can seek permanent residency.
— Permanent residents enjoy the right to vote and to stand for election.
— Permanent residents can stay in Hong Kong without a work visa, have access to benefits such as public housing.
— Foreign maids, whose work visa is currently tied to a specific employer, can take up other jobs once they become permanent resident.
— At present, foreign maids must find another job in domestic service or leave Hong Kong within two weeks if dismissed by her employer. As a permanent resident, they will not be bound by the two-week rule,
— Of the 292,000 foreign domestic helpers, 117,000 have lived in Hong Kong for at least seven years as of December last year.
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