More than 1,700 employment visa applications were denied, which was five times more than last year.

The department said it will combat job-hopping - when domestic helpers prematurely terminate their employment contracts or deliberately perform poorly to force their employers to fire them so they can change employers.

"In suspicious cases, the department will contact the former employer to find out the reason for early termination and will deny visa applications in the cases of confirmed job-hopping," the Immigration Department said.

The latest figures showed 340,000 visas were approved for foreign domestic helpers from January to October this year, including 10,153 cases of premature termination of contract for change of employer.

Premature termination was approved due to the original employer's transfer, migration, death, or financial reasons, or if there was evidence suggesting the helper had been abused or exploited.

The remaining 4,475 cases were suspected of job-hopping, about two-and-a-half times more than the 1,776 cases last year. This year, 1,784 visa applications were denied compared to only 319 last year.

Tse Shing-ngai, principal immigration officer of visa control, said the shortage of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong caused more incidences of job-hopping.

He said if helpers ask for a pay rise soon after they arrive or claim urgent business to leave Hong Kong, often it is because they found new employers.

"For example, the department received a premature termination of the contract earlier, claiming that she was treated poorly," Tse said. "The helper asked for compensation and for changing her employer, whereas the new employer also pleaded to approve her visa."

However, he said after contacting the original employer, the officers found that the helper asked for a pay rise and resigned after finding a new employer. Compensation and a visa application were denied.

Tse reminded that a job-hopping record will also affect future applications to work in Hong Kong.

He also said after completing a contract, the employer and the helper can submit the same or their own notifications of termination of an employment contract to explain the reason behind the termination.

Tse said the department will remain vigilant, including revoking agencies' licenses if they are proven to abet helpers in job-hopping.