Maids Win Right to Apply for Hong Kong Residency

Posted September 30th, 2011 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Hong Kong's High Court has ruled that an immigration law banning foreign maids from permanent residency is unconstitutional — a landmark decision that could pave the way for many applications from domestic helpers.

The court found Friday that employment and immigration law discriminates against Hong Kong's nearly 300,000 mostly Indonesian and Filipino maids. All other people can apply for permanent residency after living in Hong Kong for seven years.

The case was brought before the High Court by Evangeline Vallejos, a former businesswoman from the Philippines who came to Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper in 1986. Her lawyer, Mark Daly, said the rejection of her application violates Hong Kong's mini-constitution .

Hong Kong's citizens widely oppose Friday's decision. They say if Hong Kong's maids are joined by their family members, almost half a million immigrants could overwhelm the city's education, medical and other welfare services.

Daly said he expects officials to appeal the decision but voiced hope it would take place in Hong Kong courts, not in Beijing.