Closed petition Reinstate the pre-2012 Overseas Domestic Worker visa with a route to settlement

We want the Government to reinstate the pre-2012 Overseas Domestic Worker visa in order to enable migrant domestic workers to renew their visas (which are currently capped at 6 months) and to ensure there is a route to settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain).

More details

Migrant domestic workers' visas are capped at six months and there is no way for them to renew them, leading many MDWs become undocumented after six months has elapsed. MDWs are already at a greater risk of experiencing forced labour and abuse, which only increases among those that are undocumented. The ability to renew the visa with a route to settlement will enable MDWs to seek support if their employer is abusive, and will enable them to continue to contribute to society.

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 March 2021

The Government does not intend to reinstate the visa category for Domestic Workers in a Private Household, which closed to new arrivals in April 2012.

The Overseas Domestic Worker (ODW) visa enables domestic workers, working in a private household, to accompany their employer on a visit to the UK. Employers can be of any nationality, but must live overseas and intend to leave the UK within six months. UK-based employers, or anyone intending to stay beyond six months, should look to the settled workforce when hiring private domestic staff.

Both ODW and Visit visas are valid for a maximum period of six months, at which point we would expect visa holders to have made arrangements to leave the UK, in line with the temporary nature of their visa. During their time in the UK employers and migrant domestic workers are subject to all of the responsibilities and protections offered by UK employment law.

The Government recognises the potential vulnerability of migrant domestic workers and does not intend for any domestic worker, who is subjected to forced labour or abuse, or indeed otherwise, to become undocumented. This is why a dedicated process exists for victims of modern slavery who entered the UK as a domestic worker. This process offers those who have fallen into this vulnerable position, permission to stay in the UK for up to two additional years. This is in addition to the support provided by the Single Competent Authority through the National Referral Mechanism.

Domestic workers in a private household who entered, and have remained in the UK, under the rules in place before 6 April 2012 are able to extend their leave and may be able to apply for settlement.

Home Office