East Asia’s economic growth has brought in its train large-scale migration of temporary workers from poorer to richer states. The policies directed towards such migrants have varied from state to state, and these discrepancies have now been highlighted by a recent controversy in Hong Kong – the request by a handful of foreign domestic helpers to be granted permanent residence in Hong Kong. Whatever the outcome of their lawsuit, the request by the work-visa holders for permanent residence could have region-wide implications.

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