canada work permit
Welcome to Canada, Hong Kongers. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

Hong Kongers who graduated with a diploma or degree in the last five years can now apply for a new three-year Canada work permit, the latest step in Canada’s campaign to help Hong Kong after China imposed a new national security law in late June 2020.

Ottawa said last Thursday these new permit recipients can gain work experience, which will ease their transition to permanent residency. “Canada continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Hong Kong, and is deeply concerned about the new National Security Law and the deteriorating human rights situation there,” the government said in a statement.

This follows Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s announcement in November of measures to support Hongkongers who want to immigrate to Canada: “With flexible open work permits and a fast-track to permanent residency, skilled Hong Kong residents will have a unique opportunity to develop their careers and help accelerate Canada’s economic recovery,” Mendicino said in the release. “This is a landmark immigration initiative that will strengthen our economy and will deepen the ties between Canada and the people of Hong Kong.”

Canada work permit

The newly launched Canada work permit seeks to help Hong Kong after China imposed a new national security law in late June 2020. Source: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Here’s what else you need to know about this new Canada work permit:

Who can apply for this Canada work permit

First, you must hold a Hong Kong special administrative region or a British National Overseas passport, you can apply. Students who are currently in Canada can apply for the new open work permit, in addition to visitor visa holders and temporary workers. If you are applying from abroad, take not of Canada’s coronavirus safety measures. You might be subject to travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine, and testing. Your spouse or common law partners, as well as children, can also apply for a study or work permit.

Documents you need

You must show qualifications earned in Canada or abroad. For the former, qualifications must be issued by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). A DLI is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs, but not all post-secondary institutions. To check whether your post-secondary school is a DLI, find out its DLI number on this government website. Next, you need to prove that your post-secondary diploma is from a programme of at least two years in duration.

If your degree or diploma is from abroad, you must provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from an organisation or a professional body designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This shows what your education is equal to in Canada.

Do you need a job offer?

If you are outside Canada, you will need to have a job offer ready, in addition to all other travel and public health requirements, to enter the country.

Alternative pathways to PR

Two new permanent immigration pathways are in the works for Hong Kong residents on top of the new work permit. They are set to launch later this year. One will require at least one year of Canadian work experience, as well as language and education requirements. Another will be open to international students from Hong Kong to apply directly for PR after graduating from a DLI.

Why is Canada doing this?

These immigration initiatives aim 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.”