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Helpers in Singapore: Can FDWs move to another country with you?

Leaving Singapore and dreading the absence of your beloved helper? When it’s time to head home, many expat families begin looking into how to employ their helpers in their homeland – most commonly the UK, Australia or US. But is it feasible? Well, it’s certainly not easy. The factors that often put a stop to any ideas are generally visa restrictions and costs.

Hitting the home stretch? (Credit: Craig Stanfill)


Visa Restrictions
As we discovered in this article about inviting helpers on holiday from Singapore, most countries only allow short-term stays through special visas, six months being the longest case. To be eligible in the UK, employers should be staying six months or less – not viable if you’re returning for good. Australia used to have a Domestic Worker (Temporary) Executive visa, but it’s since been closed to new applicants. Other forms of low-skilled working visas are likely to get rejected wherever you go – with immigration laws tightening up across the world. The widely used rule of thumb that puts a stop to most applications? If people in the local labour force can do the job, foreigners aren’t in demand enough to be needed.

If you’re determined to employ your helper for one of the shorter periods, they must be paid the country’s minimum wage. In the UK, this is £6.50 (13.31 SGD) per hour from October 1 2014, while Australia’s minimum wage is 640 AUD (751 SGD) a week. When you start to add up the costs, using local childcare or cleaning services is likely to be easier on the budget.

An exception?
Hong Kong is one of the only countries that allows foreign helpers to work long-term. Through a Domestic Helper From Abroad visa, a FDW can stay for up to two years under an employment contract and apply for a renewal eight weeks before it expires. Helpers must be paid at least the minimum allowable wage (MAW) – currently at 4,010 HKD (649.60 SGD) per month.

Do you have any experience with employing a helper from Singapore overseas? We’d love to hear your stories below…