Emma Watson may have illegally employed her American maid in the UK


This story totally got lost in the Independence Day shuffle, but I really wanted to cover it so… sorry that this is like a week old. Before Emma Watson graduated from Brown, she had homes in Rhode Island and England, from what I understand (maybe there’s a NYC apartment in the mix as well?). She’s been spending more time in NYC lately, and I guess she really liked her American housekeeper. Emma liked her so much that Emma brought the housekeeper to London to look after her place there as well. So, basically… Emma brought over an undocumented immigrant to work as a maid for her. And it’s a thing now.

Immigration officials are investigating claims that Emma Watson’s American housekeeper could have worked for her illegally in the UK. Reports suggest that the maid might have worked for the actress at her £2million London home while she held a tourist visa. Tourist visas bar foreign citizens from working in the UK.

The housekeeper, who is thought to have started working for Watson at her New York apartment at the start of 2013, was reportedly stopped by UK immigration staff, who questioned how she intended to fund her stay in Britain. Border Agency officials started the probe after they received a complaint that she was paid to aid the actress at her home in Islington and subsequently travelled to London on and off.

A source at the Home Office told The Independent that they “wouldn’t routinely comment on individual cases”. It is alleged that the housekeeper spent three months in Britain between September 2013 and February 2014. Her employment at Watson’s home is understood to have come to an end at the beginning of February.

Civil penalties of up to £10,000 per worker can be imposed by Home Office chiefs on bosses who are found to have breached immigration guidelines.

The Harry Potter star had been living in the United States as she studied for her degree in English Literature at Brown University in Rhode Island. Have recently obtained the qualification, she is now thought to be based in London.

[From The Independent]

Is this slightly amusing to anyone else? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are tons of celebrities, wealthy and upper-middle class people in America who employ undocumented workers as maids, gardeners and the like. Emma managed to find an American housekeeper that she liked so much, Emma got her to clean all of her international properties. That must be one awesome maid. So awesome, in fact, that Emma never thought to simply hire an English maid for her English properties? Was Emma being loyal to someone she liked? Or was she being cheap?

Anyway, if Emma does get fined, it won’t be that big of a deal for her (she’s crazy rich already). I think it would be interesting to hear of other celebrities who employed undocumented workers. Maybe this will be the start.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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43 Responses to “Emma Watson may have illegally employed her American maid in the UK”

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  1. Lizzie says:

    Emma also got appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador today for women’s issues. So….the good with the bad. LOL.

  2. Beth says:

    So how does that work then? Do the Jolie-Pitts have to get work visas for all their nannies every time they drag their kids somewhere new? What a pain that would be.

    • Isa says:

      I aS wondering about nannies and personal assistants too. Maybe it has something to do with the length of time? Idk

    • feebee says:

      Good point. I wonder if they pay them into their US bank account/s? Maybe when they get their work permits, their employees are bundled in at the same time. It’s certainly not hard to do that here in the US, all it takes is a lawyer who knows what they’re doing and the right number on the check.

    • AG-UK says:

      Depending on where they are from, If you are from somewhere say India/S Africa/Russian/Chinese yes you need a visa for every place you go, but if EU you can usually stay up to 90 days without one OR have a visa if you are staying longer even in the US but I would imagine as if they are employed by the Jolie/Pitts they would need a work visa as legally not meant to work on the holiday visas.

    • profdanglais says:

      I’m a lurker on this site, but being an American immigrant to the UK know way more about this topic than anyone should need to, so will just pop out of the shadows for a moment.

      In the UK, in order to get a work visa, an employer needs to first advertise the post for a set length of time, then provide evidence that the foreign worker they want to hire can do the job better than anyone who doesn’t need a visa, which means anyone in the UK and EU. It’s illegal to work on a visitor visa, even if you are paid into a foreign account.

      So basically, yes, the Jolie-Pitts’ nannies would have to have visas for the countries they visit in order to be able to work there.

      • feebee says:

        But surely people like the Jolie-Pitts have exceptions (to what you laid out) made for them, they couldn’t be expected to advertise and employ locals for a few month stay?

        Obviously film companies have some exceptions because they don’t have to advertise to fill a major part, they just fill in the necessary paperwork. Granted the crew positions are handled as you state.

        Maybe this/Emma’s case is different because she’s a citizen/permanent resident of the UK?

        The rules in the US are similar in some respects. You have to explain why you need to employ the foreign person/why a local person cannot fill the position. Again, it’s easier with an Immigration Lawyer and company checkbook.

      • Lady Macbeth (ex HiddlesF) says:


        They probably have a personal staff and manage to get around the advertisement part, however they have to get work visas for them even if both Pitt and Jolie are holidaying and not working.

      • profdanglais says:

        I don’t know how they do it, but the UK is incredibly strict about this–no exceptions. I think even film stars would need to have visas, but you could pretty easily argue that a famous actor is the only person who could fill a particular role. TBH for something so profitable as films I doubt they ever refuse a visa application. But Emma being a UK citzen actually makes it worse..UK citizens/businesses are absolutely required to make sure their employees are legal. If they don’t, they can be fined up to £10,000 per employee.

        I’ve lived in the UK 6 years and have dual citizenship, but my employers are still really diligent. They have photocopies of my passports and all my visas, even the expired ones, just to make absolutely sure.

      • Lady Macbeth (ex HiddlesF) says:


        Actors and singers need working visas everywhere, not just to come to UK. British actors who go to work, even for a few months, to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, etc. need working visas. I remember reading that Russell Crowe was once in big trouble because his PA had not received the passport back with the American visa in time…

      • kristina says:

        I know some companies aren’t required to advertise for some length of time – when my brother’s company opened an office in London, they merely transferred some people from here (the US), to the UK to open it and work there. Because they already worked within the company, the company wasn’t required to post those openings.

      • profdanglais says:

        @kristina, that’s a different deal. Intracompany transfers are treated differently than new hires.

      • ol cranky says:

        @profdanglais if the woman has been in Watson’s employ for some time couldn’t that fall under special rules like intra company transfers/secondments (although you would still need a visa for those)

    • Faye says:

      The Jolie-Pitts never live long enough in one place to qualify as residents, though, right? So maybe those rules don’t apply.

  3. Sixer says:

    This follows on from various politicians employing illegals as domestics. Always a big story in the UK because we are so bloody obsessed with immigration. You’d think it was nirvana here if it weren’t for all those Johnny Foreigners. Sigh. She had an employee. She liked her. She wanted to employ her cross-border. For the life of me, I don’t see the problem. It’s not like the politicos, employing total illegals through dodgy agencies who pay minimum wage only because they’re forced to.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      It happens here frequently too. Although most of the problem could be avoided easily if the employer simply took the time to learn the rules and fill out the paperwork.

    • Lady Macbeth (ex HiddlesF) says:


      In this case it is not about immigration control, it is more an aspect of abiding to the rules. Emma could get some information through her lawyers if interested in having her maid do the work in UK. And to be honest, I am all against illegal immigration in U.K. and it would be nice to tell all this politicians that there are plenty of legally-migrated housekeepers who are unemployed, therefore the illegal ones should not be allowed to be employed at all.
      Saying this as a legal immigrant on British soil ;)

  4. linlin says:

    I am sure she was not cheap- surely it’s much more expensive to fly her housekeeper to England instead of hiring somebody there! I would say she was loyal and/or lazy. Lazy because she didn’t want to have to search for another trustworthy housekeeper and lazy because she didn’t want to make the necessary arrangements to make this legal. Anyway, I am sure it wasn’t that this lady was so much better at cleaning, but more that she really trusted her to not rat her out to the tabloids.

  5. feebee says:

    It’s all a bit weird. I mean, why? I guess she thought it was harmless enough and would get away with it. I think it’s harmless enough but rules are rules and I suppose now she pays the fine and moves on.

  6. Eleonoy says:

    My opinion: a celebrity must really be careful when hire someone: hello leaked stories or stolen stuff. Probably she has found someone she likes and trust, and she hasn’t payed too much attention to the burocratic side of things.

  7. jwoolman says:

    She probably just had the wrong kind of visa. There are usually provisions for such people to get visas to work specifically for their current employer, just as spouses and children can get visas on the basis of the mom or dad having a work visa. So it’s a mistake that can be remedied. I don’t see it as unusual to have a staff person like this travel with you.

    • Lady Macbeth (ex HiddlesF) says:

      You cannot work on a tourist visa, whether you are in Australia, Usa, Nz, Canada, UK, and lots of other countries…… Relatives as spouses and children on visas are a different matter, as they are included in the original visa granted to one of the partners. In some countries, spouses are not allowed to work until a certain time has passed.

      Usually, if you want to have staff with you they should sponsor them. Staff can’t be included in your working/residence visa.

  8. Dany says:

    Agree this has to be an awesome maid. Emma could easily hire new stuff for every house/ country, but she wanted this one everywhere she is. Sound soo cute.

  9. Mia4S says:

    Lazy, oblivious, and/or entitled; it doesn’t matter. Pay the fine, smarten up, move on.

  10. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Maybe she was trying to keep the housekeeper from being unemployed during her absence? I agree with jwoolman that surely she could have gotten a visa for a current employee to travel with her.

  11. TG says:

    Whose the tattletale who went running to officials? I really hate people like that. You get jealous people in the workplace like that a lot. If Emma wasn’t abusing her maid who gives a flying freak?

  12. HannahG says:

    I just find it weird that a 24-year-old has a maid, period.

  13. Adrien says:

    Well, she pays her well and treats her well, this should be a non-issue.

  14. serena says:

    I’m going to give her a free pass this time, she’s not dumb but maybe she was just careless.

  15. Faye says:

    It was probably done out of ignorance. She’ll pay the fine and move on.

    England’s got bigger undocumented immigrant problems than Emma Watson’s maid to deal with.

  16. msw says:

    I am glad the first line in the post was “is this amusing to anyone else?” Because that was my very first reaction. I studied abroad in London and tons of the foreign exchange students in my building were working under the table while there on tourist visas. I had a couple acquaintances doing the same thing in Edinburgh. Let’s just say it was an extremely common occurrence. Evidently they are aware, too, because I have been hassled almost every time I have gone into the UK. “You were here six months ago… You must really like it here. When are you leaving?”

    And that’s before we get to the dirty side of things, like human trafficking and people staying illegally for years, not just working illegally for a few months and going home

  17. Ellen says:

    What gets me is why she has a maid at all. This is a woman who promotes herself and harpers on the fact she’s the girl next door. The girl next door wouldn’t need a maid unless she’s the duchess. Mind you Emma has more dresses than Kate anyway. That’s all Emma does is turn up events wearing pretty dresses.
    Wonder how she’s going to slum it with the poor folk as UN ambassitor wearing her designer gear? Bit hypocritical

  18. raincoaster says:

    That’s a weird report. She worked for Emma in Islington and “travelled to London on and off?” Islington is IN London.