Rose Fostanes, the diminutive 47-year-old Filipina caregiver who became the newest star of Israeli reality television this week by winning the singing competition “X-Factor Israel,” isn’t legally able to make money as a singer in Israel due to restrictions on her visa.
Fostanes is in Israel on a special work visa for caregivers, which only allows her to work legally in that one profession.
A source at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority was quoted by the daily Yedioth Ahronoth as saying that “under no circumstances” can Fostanes get paid to sing in Israel, but added that it would be “no problem if she performs at weddings for free.”
Any attempt to cash in on her newfound fame and receive payment for her singing would be “considered a violation of her visa,” the official said.
Fostanes said that now that she has won, she just wants to be a singer, but because of the visa restriction, “I don’t know what will happen now.”
Fostanes arrived in Israel six years ago to work as a caregiver so, like millions of other Filipino workers around the world, she could send money back home to her family and her girlfriend.
Fostanes spends her days caring and cleaning for an ailing woman in her 50s. To save money, she lives in a crowded apartment in south Tel Aviv, a downtrodden area inhabited by foreign laborers, with seven others.
Several months ago, a friend encouraged her to enter the “X-Factor” competition, a popular show hosted by Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
In an upset victory, Fostanes, who stands at just 1.5 meters-tall (4-foot-11), captured her audiences’ hearts with her strong and soulful voice, and beat out three other finalists by performing crowd-pleasing renditions of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” and ”Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics.
Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, a judge on the show and former reality TV contestant herself, has served as Fontanes’ “mentor” throughout the season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.