Re: Domestic Service Visas: 1938 . . .

Eva Lawrence

My maiden aunt, my mother's sister came to England on a Domestic Service Visa. Potential immigrants were only admitted, even with a passport, if they could prove that they would not be a liability on the State. They had to have a job, unless a British resident who would guarantee them to an amount of £50. My grandmother, this aunt's mother, aged 60, was able to call on an English nephew for a gurantee, but there wasno such gurantee for my aunt.  Almost the only work unqualified women with apoor command of the language were able to take at the time was domestic service, and many English families offered jobs as maids, cooks or such like to refugees from Germany and Austria. You'd need a letter from your future employer,  and probably it was marked on your passport by the British consulate in Germany. 

They usually would still have to pay for their own journey to England   Many were live-in jobs.  My aunt, a trained secretary was quite unhappy working as a dentist's maid, where she had to answer the door wearing the black dress and white frilly apron that maids wore at the time, but she knew that it had saved her life. She found other work in a munitions factory as soon as she could - harder but less demeaning,. More varied work was  available for men, and married women were exempt, as it was accepted that their husband would support them.  Some of these women on domestic service visas have written autobiographies. 
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.

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