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Canada to expedite immigration for Hong Kong residents, asylum seekers

Immigration is a key driver of Canada’s economic growth, and Canada continues to welcome the best and brightest from around the world, who help create jobs for Canadians. As we focus on accelerating our recovery, Canada will continue to be the world’s top destination for talent, capital, and jobs.

Today, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a new immigration initiative that will attract students and youth from Hong Kong to Canada by offering a new open work permit and broadening their pathways to permanent residency.

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.

This announcement also supports the commitments made by the Government of Canada to maintain the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong in response to the Chinese government’s imposition and implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020.

In addition, a number of enhancements to existing immigration programs, and increasing efforts to raise awareness of these options, will support people from Hong Kong who are currently in Canada and want to stay, or who want to begin making plans to come to Canada when the COVID-19 travel restrictions are eventually lifted.

The minister also reassured Canadians and Canadian permanent residents in Hong Kong that they can return to Canada at any time, and any documents they require will be expedited. Family members in Hong Kong of Canadians and Canadian permanent residents may also travel to Canada under the current exemptions to travel restrictions, though all travellers to Canada must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

New pathways for Hong Kong youth

Recognizing the talent and skills many Hong Kong students and graduates can bring to Canada’s economy and workforce, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is announcing a new initiative to allow eligible Hong Kong residents in Canada or abroad with recently completed post-secondary studies to apply for an open work permit, which may be valid for up to 3 years.

Obtaining an open work permit will allow Hong Kong residents, particularly young people, to come to or stay in Canada and gain valuable employment experience. To follow this experience, a new pathway to permanent resident status for in-Canada Hong Kong residents who meet specific eligibility criteria is being created. This new pathway will be available in 2021, and criteria will include minimum language and education levels and 1 year of work experience in Canada.

The government will also expedite study permit applications for those who want to study in Canada. There has already been an increase in applications for study permits from Hong Kong residents in 2020, and Canada will continue to promote this opportunity. Minister Mendicino announced that, once their studies are completed, these students will have a new dedicated pathway to permanent residence.

Additional measures

Canada is also introducing new measures to expedite documents for Canadians and Canadian permanent residents in Hong Kong, to speed up processing of permanent residence applications, including family sponsorship, which will benefit Hong Kong residents, and to encourage Hong Kong youth to study or work in Canada.

Application processing fees are being waived for Hong Kong residents in Canada on a temporary basis who apply to renew their status to extend their stay.

Minister Mendicino said that Canada continues to support the people of Hong Kong and to stand up for democracy and human rights.

“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

Quick facts

  • On June 30, 2020, China passed a national security law for Hong Kong, which criminalizes “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces,” providing very broad definitions for these crimes that undermine rights and freedoms.
  • Global Affairs Minister François Champagne issued a statement on July 3, 2020, on behalf of Canada, highlighting the implementation of export controls and the suspension of Canada’s extradition treaty as well as announcing the revision of travel advice for Canadians.
  • There are an estimated 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong, which is one of the largest Canadian communities abroad. This community, along with the significant number of Canadians of Hong Kong descent in Canada, plays an important role in building vibrant bilateral relations.
  • The open work permit will be available to those who have completed post-secondary studies in the last 5 years.
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