Single female hiring male helper

Posted by Iachen 20 mths ago
Hello all, I moved to HK just last year and have felt it difficult to keep up with chores and cooking healthy meals (rather than eating takeout every day) so I've wanted a helper for quite some time.
Having never had a helper growing up, I'm not comfortable with the idea of living with and trusting a stranger so I've been hesitant.

I learned that one of my fiance's best friends is looking for work overseas to better support his growing family. He's from the Philippines and he's an older guy who's married and is an extremely reliable and honest guy. My fiance and I trust him and both felt it'd be a good idea to hire him as a domestic helper.
As a male, he could even help with handywork. I got an agency to help with the application and asked them if it might be weird that he's male and I'm currently a female living alone (my fiance works in the US and comes in and out of HK every few months).
The agent told me it's no issue at all and when asked if there's anything I need to add to the application for better chance of approval, the agent said it's fine and all is good.
Thus, I didnt consider whether hiring the helper would be a problem and if I may be better off trying to hire a female one. I asked lots of questions and she gave no advice and was very positive on the outcome so I got the impression this would be a very simple task.
After applying, immigration asked for an explanation on why I'm hiring a male helper and to provide his proposed duties etc. I outlined the duties clearly and I explained that I knew the helper through my fiance who is in the US.
Immigration then asked me to add my fiance to the application and this is where everything went downhill.

On the application, it only asked for those living at the residence so I inquired with immigration on whether I still need to add him if he's not currently residing in HK.
Immigration then called and asked me lots of questions over the phone saying that they dont see a need for me to have a helper etc. so I told them I own my own business and I work most of the time and dont have much time to do housework.
They asked me where I work/what I do, so I explained my industry and that I work mostly at home. They then requested photos of my apartment and my rental contract which I provided.
A few weeks later, they asked me to go for an interview where they asked me very detailed questions about everything and even on my relationship with my fiance like how long we've known each other, where we met, what we used to do back in Canada and lots of details.
After I answered every question, the officer then told me they were likely going to decline my application because of several reasons:

1) he's a male helper and I'm a single female
2) my workplace is at home, so that would make things more questionable because there are instances where the helper may be involved in work related tasks if he's living in my place of work (though there is literally no way he could help with my work...)
3) my apartment is large for a single person and it costs even more than my monthly salary (which I explained is because I subsidize half of the rent as part of my company expense, and obviously as it's my company, I hired myself and am the one who decided on my salary but I have the business as my asset so that's why I'm not concerned on the rent being high in relation to my salary).
It is also a subdivided flat so the 2 bedrooms are actually inside the original flat and both have their own bathrooms. One of them is much smaller and I was using it as storage until I prepared it for my potential helper.
I didnt mind the subdivided set up and thought it'd be perfect for having a helper and I mostly just rented my place because it's right across from the wan chai mtr station.
According to the agent, this is an issue because it's subdivided so they have reason to believe I might rent it to another person so that it'd be questionable whether my helper needed to work for the other person too.
Again, I explained that this would be impossible because then I would need to share a room with the helper if I were to rent the other subdivided room out...
4) He said that inside the same building, he is aware there is a floor that's renting their flats out as hotels, and in the past, some have hired helpers but for the purpose of cleaning and managing their apartment-hotel businesses.
It's a mixed used building and three are other types of business in the building too but it's primarily residential. He said he wasnt saying there is any indication I'm going to run a hotel or other type of service there but that that's another consideration based on the circumstances.

Regardless of me explaining profusely, he told me that's their perspective and they will need to look at the above facts without considering my explanations. He advised me to cancel my application because it will likely be declined and that would leave a record so that it'd be difficult to hire any helper afterwards.

I talked to the agent and asked her why she didnt have any advice for me that could've prevented me from being so honest to give him all those details about working at home etc. cause I really could've just given another location for my workplace since we have other sites fo store products and prepare shipments etc.
Also could've hid a lot of informarion if I knew what to watch out for but I was being completly open since I didnt know that would be an issue. The agency is firm that they have no responsibility in this and that none of the fees can be transferred to a future application.
So right now I'm just trying to see if there is any way to salvage the current application as I dont know if I want to spend another small fortune for an agent to process a new application or look for another helper when there's no guarantee it'll be approved the second time either.

If you're still here, these are my questions:

1) does anyone know more about the decision making process at immigration and  I do as advised and cancel the application or is there a chance that I might still get approved? Is it worth the risk to get declined or is that really going to affect future applications? 
I'm just confused why he asked me to go in for an interview and grilled me on the details
of my personal life to then tell me he asked me to meet so that he could advise me to cancel the application...
2) the agent advises that it's not possible for me to apply on my own and I must go through an agent on future applications. They refuse to provide me with the documents that they submitted to immigration for us. The reason I went with them was because my research also advised we could not do direct hires without an agent because of the Philippines consulate.
The immigration officer told me this isn't true, so I'm confused. Does anyone know more about this and whether it's possible? I asked the immigration officer if he could provide me with a copy of the application and documents the agency submitted to him, but he told me to just check the guidebook for guidelines.

I didnt realize they would be so thorough in their review. If anyone has advice for me, I would really appreciate it. Thank you in advance.
What is everyone's perspective on this? I know now that I should've taken the time to understand how difficult this may be before going into it, but I didnt put much thought into it.
I just thought that I have a legitimate need and went ahead to trust the agent.

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KrisL 20 mths ago
Hi there,

Sorry to hear about your troubles. To answer your questions;

1. While it's not possible to say for sure, your chances of having your application approved would probably be slim. Cases like these are not set in stone, rather it oftentimes depends which Immigration officer is handling the case.
Some officers may approve an application like this, whereas some would not. If the Immigration officer who interrogated you is the one who will handle your application, you should probably take his advice and cancel your application.
It does seem a bit odd that your fiance would be ok with having a male helper move in with you, so I can understand why Immigration would have some concerns about this application being legit.

2. All overseas, terminated or break contract hires must go through an agency, whether direct or from the agency's database. Any ethical agency should not only provide you with copies of documents submitted upon request, but should also offer a refund if the application doesn't go through. For complaints against an agency please contact the Employment Agencies Administration on 2115 3667 or email

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