The Court of Appeal will hand down its judgment today on the government's appeal against a controversial ruling giving foreign domestic helpers the right to apply for permanent residence. The appeal stems from a ruling by Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon, of the Court of First Instance, who found in September that an immigration provision was unconstitutional because it excluded foreign domestic helpers from being 'ordinarily resident' in Hong Kong. But the case was not about discrimination, he said. The judicial review was instigated by Filipino domestic helper Evangeline Banao Vallejos, who has worked in Hong Kong since 1986. The government, politicians and the public have been watching the progress of the case closely because it is a test case for about 117,000 foreign domestic helpers who have lived in the city for at least seven years, out of a pool of 285,000. Foreign residents typically qualify for permanent residency after living here continuously for seven years. Concerned that the ruling would trigger an influx of immigration, straining the welfare system, the government quickly appealed. After the court ruling in September, the government temporarily halted the processing of applications for permanent identity cards from foreign helpers. A total of 724 applications were filed between October and January, dropping from a peak of 334 in November to a low of 93 in January. Human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who represents Vallejos, said yesterday that whatever the outcome, an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal was likely. '[We will] appeal until we see justice,' Daly said, in case today's ruling goes against his client. The government believes the Basic Law drafters wanted lawmakers to have the power to decide who qualified for permanent residency.