Hong Kong top court rejects landmark maid residency appeal

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal has rejected Filipino domestic helper Evangeline Vallejos’ challenge to be entitled to permanent residency, a landmark decision that dashes the hopes of some 117,000 foreign maids in the city.

Lawyers for Ms Vallejos, who has worked in Hong Kong since 1986, have argued that other foreigners can gain the right of abode after living in the city for seven years, and that immigration rules excluding foreign domestic helpers are not constitutional.

But the court says that conditions for domestic helpers entering Hong Kong are clear, including the stipulation that they need to return to their country of origin upon serving out their contract.

Foreign domestic helpers are “told from the outset that admission is not for the purposes of settlement,” Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma wrote in a ruling on Monday.

He also threw out the Hong Kong’s government’s request that the court seek guidance from China’s highest legislative body on Hong Kong’s Basic Law over residency rights, which could have affected the status of Hong Kong-born children of mainland Chinese parents.

Critics had feared that acceding to this request would mean curtailing Hong Kong’s judicial independence.