Foreigners who cook, clean houses and care for children in Hong Kong will not be eligible to become permanent residents like other workers from abroad, a final appeals court ruled Monday.
The unanimous ruling disappointed the Filipino workers who pressed the case and activists championing their cause. Foreigners working in other jobs can seek permanent residency after living seven years in Hong Kong, but its immigration rules explicitly bar “domestic helpers” from doing so. Permanent residents can stay indefinitely and vote in Hong Kong.
“It’s a slap in the face for the migrant women who care for Hong Kong’s families, often at great personal sacrifice, to be treated so unequally by the law,” Human Rights Watch senior researcher Nisha Varia wrote in an email Monday to the Los Angeles Times.
A year and a half ago, workers Evangeline Vallejos and Daniel Domingo, who came to Hong Kong from the Philippines decades ago to work as domestic helpers, convinced a lower court that excluding domestic workers was unconstitutional. The government appealed the case, bringing it to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeals, which ruled against the two laborers.