It is quite common to see families in Hong Kong hiring foreign domestic helpers for household chores. The fast-paced city demands both husband and wife to go out and work; otherwise meeting ends for an average family would be hard. This calls for reliable help; in other words, such families require a trustworthy domestic helper to take care of their home, their children, aged parents as well do the cleaning and washing. Domestic helpers from Indonesia and Philippines are available in large numbers however an employer in Hong Kong needs to follow the rules and legalities of the Government and abide by the Immigration department’s formalities. Hiring a domestic helper requires some time and effort. You might know the procedure if you hire helpers on a regular basis however, if you are new to hiring a foreign domestic helper, this article is for you!
Applying for a domestic helper visa is time consuming and often confusing since there are several rules and regulations. Seek the help of a licensed employment agency if you find it difficult to complete the process. However, doing it by yourself might cost you less, around HK$1000, which includes embassy notarization fees as well as visa fees.
Once the immigration department receives the notarized employment contract from the Filipino or Indonesian Government, they begin the visa application procedure. It might take around 4-8 weeks and upon approval, your helper will get a label which she will be required to attach to her travel document. If you are looking to hire a helper who is already in Hong Kong but basically from Philippines or if you want to renew your existing helper’s contract, you can do it all by yourself. Yes, you can submit the relevant documents without the help of any agency to the concerned at the immigration department. Otherwise, you will have to go through a licensed agency.
There are several agencies that offer to help you with the visa application paperwork but be careful; some of the employment agencies charge exorbitant fees from the domestic helpers. However, agencies in Hong Kong can charge only 10% of the domestic helper’s first month pay as fee.
The domestic helper looking to work abroad needs to pass a medical test after which she will be considered fit. The employment agency will start further processing after this procedure. If the helper you are considering does not come with any previous experience, she will be required to undergo compulsory training in order to abide by her country rules. Moreover, she should bear the cost of training.
You and your helper should sign 4 copies of the employment contract; one copy will be held by you, one by your helper, one is for the helper’s embassy and the other one is for the department of immigration.
If your helper’s existing contract expires within 30 days, either you or your employee can visit the POLO- Philippine Overseas Labour Office and apply for the notarization. This costs HK$476 which includes Overseas Workers Welfare Administration membership, Philippine Consulate General fee and verification fee. The following documents are required for the process:
Generally, it takes 6 working days for contract notarization. Once it is approved, you can collect the notarized contract by submitting the receipt issued by the POLO. Your helper can apply for her visa after this procedure.
Your domestic helper will be required to complete the ID 998A form while you will need to fill up the ID 998B form of the Immigration department. Your domestic helper should submit the following documents along with the above- mentioned forms:
Upon visa approval, you will be required to pay HK$230. Visa processing takes around 2-4 weeks if your helper is already in Hong Kong however if she needs to come from her country, it will take around 8 weeks. The domestic helper cannot work for you during the visa application processing period. Domestic workers looking to renew their contract with their existing employer must submit visa application 8 weeks prior to their stay limit expiry. Such workers can receive their visas on the same day of visa application. Domestic workers looking to change employers should submit their visa application 4 weeks prior to the contract expiry.
You can learn about the status of your domestic helper’s visa application online or call support for the same. You might be required to attend an interview with the immigration department after which you will be notified about the application via letter. If the application is successful, the helper should bring the letter and her travel document to the Foreign domestic helpers’ section for collecting the visa label. The visa fee should be paid to the HKSAR government.
You should buy an insurance to cover your liability for your domestic helper when she is on the job. You can also take a medical insurance since you are responsible for her medical expenses. Some employers also insist their helpers to undergo a medical check-up before starting with their work. Keep checking for any changes in the rules and ensure you follow them for a smooth visa processing.