Immigration measures to support Hong Kong residents and Canadians in Hong Kong
November 12, 2020—Ottawa
The new open work permit will be offered to students and youth from Hong Kong to Canada broadening their pathways to permanent residency (PR). The Honourable Marco E. L Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship stated that this initiative builds on the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan and is designed to:
Encourage recent Hong Kong graduates and those with essential work experience to choose Canada as a place to study, work and settle
Support the commitments made by the Government of Canada to maintain the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong in response to the Chines government’s imposition and implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020
support people from Hong Kong who are already in Canada under existing work and study permits
support people who want to start making plans to come to Canada when the COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. Canada is making enhancements to and increasing the promotion of existing programs and pathways to support these people.
“The people-to-people ties between Canada and Hong Kong are strong and deep, and these new measures celebrate those long-standing relationships. Newcomers from Hong Kong, including students, have made outstanding contributions to Canada, and the changes we’re announcing today will strengthen our relationship with the people of Hong Kong and bring us closer together.”
—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
New temporary and permanent pathways for Hong Kong youth
- Canada has already seen an increase in study permit applications in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, and the government will continue to promote this opportunity.
- Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a study or work permit, as appropriate. This initiative is expected to launch soon.
- The first will target former Hong Kong residents who have gained a minimum of 1 year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria such as minimum language and education levels.
- The second pathway will be for those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada. These individuals can then apply directly for permanent residence.
NOTE: For both these pathways, principal applicants will also be able to include in-Canada spouses, partners, and dependent children in their application.
Additional new measures being implemented
- Reassurance has been given to Canadians and Canadian permanent residents in Hong Kong. IRCC is speeding up the processing of documents so that they can return to Canada at any time.
- Any documents they require will be expedited to speed up the processing of permanent residence applications including family sponsorship. Spouses or common-law partners who have applied for permanent residence from within Canada can apply for an open work permit.
- Family members in Hong Kong of Canadians and Canadian permanent residents may also travel to Canada under the current exemptions to travel restrictions but must quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival.
- Hong Kong residents in Canada who wish to apply to extend their stay will temporarily not pay any application fees.
- Promotional and recruitment efforts are being increased by the IRCC to attract Hong Kong youth to study in Canada and in other program areas, including International Experience Canada.
- IRCC will also resume processing International Experience Canada applications for Hong Kong youth, which has been paused due to COVID-19.
- Approved International Experience Canada participants can already travel to Canada under the current travel restrictions, provided they have a current and active job offer. Youth-focused programs are important gateways to gaining the experience needed to qualify for permanent residence.
- Promotion of super visas (Visas for parents and grandparents) is also being increased. These Visas allow for multiple entries to Canada up to 2 years at a time over a period of up to 10 years.
Measures for asylum seekers from Hong Kong
Canada supports the right to peaceful protest, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly. Since taking part in peaceful protests is not considered an offense in Canada, arrests, and convictions outside Canada for actions not considered an offense in Canada are not grounds for inadmissibility.
Canada’s asylum system
Foreign nationals in Canada, including Hong Kong residents, will continue to have access to Canada’s asylum system. All eligible asylum claims are decided based on the individual merits and evidence presented to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an independent administrative tribunal.
Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution who have fled to another country may also be eligible under Canada’s existing resettlement programs, including the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program and the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.
Pre-removal risk-assessment (PRRA)
Canada is also implementing an exemption to the 12-month bar on a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) for Hong Kong residents due to the worsening conditions in Hong Kong that could put some individuals at risk. A PRRA examines the risk an individual may face if they are returned to their home country. Normally people who are refused a refugee claim are not eligible to apply for a PRRA for at least 12 months from the date of their decision. Through this exemption, some individuals who were previously ineligible may now be eligible for another assessment before being removed from Canada.