Canada immigration
Hong Kong citizens will soon benefit from Canadian immigration pathways developed just for them. Source: Shutterstock

Come 2021, Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for two new Canada immigration pathways to study and work abroad. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CBC News this week that one of these pathways would allow Hong Kong graduates of Canadian universities to apply for permanent residency without work experience. Canada will also introduce a three-year work permit programme for Hongkongers who graduate from any institution, which will ease their transition to permanent residency.

The Chinese government imposed the national security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020 — a move opposed by most democratic nations, including Canada. Having long established bilateral relations with the Southeast Asian nation, IRCC records show there are around 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. The country’s grim domestic situation has made immigration increasingly attractive to young Hongkongers; IRCC received 1991, study permit applications from Hong Kong as of September 30, and this number is sure to increase as COVID-19 travel restrictions ease up globally.

New Canada immigration pathways to attract Hongkongers

Canada’s latest immigration initiative aims to attract young talent from Hong Kong. It builds on the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, and is in line with the country’s reputation as an asylum for those who are persecuted in their own homelands.

Activists and protestors from Hong Kong may find refuge in Canada, which supports the right to peaceful protest, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. As IRCC stated: “Taking part in peaceful protests is not considered an offence in Canada. Arrests and convictions outside Canada for actions not considered an offence in Canada are not grounds for inadmissibility.”

Soon, any Hongkonger who graduated from a recognised university in the past five years will be able to apply to work in Canada for up to three years. Further, Hong Kong citizens in Canada will be able to apply for permanent residency if they meet a new set of minimum requirements. This includes language and education requirements, as well as a minimum of one year of work experience in Canada. On top of that, spouses or partners who have applied for permanent residence from within Canada may still apply for an open work permit.

There’s good news for international students, too — the Canadian government will expedite study permit applications so you can come study sooner. As a temporary measure, Hong Kong residents who have to extend their stay in Canada will not be charged processing fees.

“Since the social unrest erupted last year, the number of clients seeking to move to other countries has surged by four to five times,” Ivan Mak, head of the Hong Kong unit at AIMS Immigration and Relocation Group told the South China Morning Post. “Canada has opened a doorway for young Hongkongers to get more opportunities there. They have nothing to lose.”

More details to come as they are announced.