Hong Kong's top court on Monday ruled that foreign maids were not eligible to seek permanent residency in a legal battle that has split the city.
"The FDH (foreign domestic helper) is obliged to return to the country of origin at the end of the contract and is told from the outset that admission is not for the purposes of settlement and that dependants cannot be brought to reside in Hong Kong," the Court of Final Appeal said in a written judgement.
The judgement drew an end to a two-year legal battle by Filipina maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a mother of five who has lived in the city since 1986.
Vallejos won a High Court ruling in 2011 granting her the right to request permanent residency status, denied to the city's 300,000 foreign maids until then. The decision however was overturned later on a government appeal.
Foreigners can apply to settle in Hong Kong after seven years of uninterrupted residency, gaining access to voting rights and the right to live in the city without a work visa. Maids were specifically excluded.