The Hong Kong born and raised son of a Filipino maid yesterday won permission to challenge in the top court an Immigration Department decision not to grant him permanent residence.
The Court of Final Appeal granted Joseph James Gutierrez, 17, the chance to appeal on the grounds that his case involved questions of great general or public importance.
Joseph was born to Josephine Gutierrez in Hong Kong in December 1996 and has lived with his mother in the city ever since, apart from a few short breaks in the Philippines.
His mother, who has worked as a maid in Hong Kong since 1991, had her application for a permanent identity card rejected in 2008. Her appeal of that decision was dismissed in 2010.
In June last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the outcome of a lower court's judicial review, which found that the mother and son had failed to take the required steps to make Hong Kong their permanent home.
After yesterday's decision, the top court will now rule on what a child or young adult applicant, who is not a Chinese national born in Hong Kong and whose application is made before they reach the age of 21, must establish - either on his own or by a parent on his behalf - to prove that Hong Kong is their place of "permanent residence".
Proof of permanent residence is a requirement for qualifying as a permanent resident under Article 24 of the Basic Law.
"The son of the domestic helper who was born in Hong Kong has lived all his life here - all 16 years except for a few days," solicitor Mark Daly, representing Joseph, said in December.
Asked whether he was confident his client would win, Daly said: "I'm always hopeful that justice will be done."