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Hong Kong's top court ruled against two Filipino domestic helpers seeking permanent residency Monday, the final decision in a case that affects tens of thousands of other foreign maids in the southern Chinese financial hub.

In a unanimous ruling, the Court of Final Appeal sided with the government's position that tight restrictions on domestic helpers mean they don't have the same status as other foreign residents, who can apply to settle permanently after seven years. Lawyers for the two had argued that an immigration provision barring domestic workers from permanent residency was unconstitutional.

The court also rejected the government's request for Beijing to have the final say in the matter, which had sparked fears of interference by China's central government in the semiautonomous region. Some saw the request as a backhanded attempt by the government to get Beijing to halt the flow of another group of unwanted migrants - children of mainland Chinese parents - while putting the city's prized judicial independence at risk.

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