Canada is introducing two new immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents and starting new measures for asylum claimants.
Mr. Marco Mendicino, Immigration Minister made the announcement on Nov. 12, saying these initiatives hinge on the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
These measures also support Canada’s commitment to maintaining the ties between Canada and Hong Kong in response to the Chinese government’s enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong State on June 30, 2020.
This law criminalizes “secession, terrorism, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces,” and provides a wide range of definitions of these crimes, which threatens human rights and freedoms.
Minister Mendicino also said that Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Hong Kong will be accorded expedited processing of any documents they need to return to Canada. Family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may also travel to Canada under the current exemptions and must quarantine for fourteen days upon their arrival.
Currently, an estimated 300,000 Canadians are living in Hong Kong, one of the biggest Canadian communities abroad.
Eligibility Criteria for Two New Immigration Pathways For Hong Kong Residents
Canada is speeding up the processing of permits for eligible Hong Kong youth who wish to work or study in Canada.
Canada’s immigration ministry will also offer a new open work permit to Hong Kong graduates. This permit will be valid for up to three years, and the experience gained can go toward an application for Canadian permanent residence.
Holders of the work permit of this nature can apply for immigration via existing pathways like the Express Entry system, or one of the two new immigration streams specifically for Hong Kong graduates.
Eligibility requirements for this open work permit will consider candidates’ tertiary education completed in the last five years, either in Canada or abroad.
Spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children of Canadians in Hong Kong can also apply for a work or study permit if they are eligible. The government has not yet concluded on a date for when this program will begin but says it is “expected to be launch soon,” in a media release.
The two new routes to permanent residence will be available in 2021. The first will be accessible to former Hong Kong residents who have a minimum of one year of authorized work experience in Canada, and who meet minimum language and education requirements.
The other will be for those who have completed studies from a Canadian post-secondary institution. These people can apply directly for Canadian permanent residence.
For both of these new immigration pathways, applicants will be able to include inland partners, spouses, and dependent children in their applications.
Canada is also accelerating the processing of permits for eligible Hong Kong youth who wish to work or study in Canada.
In addition, given that taking part in peaceful protests is considered lawful in Canada, people who were arrested or convicted for protesting will not be denied entry to Canada on grounds of inadmissibility.
Residents of Hong Kong who are at risk of persecution and who have fled Hong kong to another country may also be qualified under Canada’s existing resettlement programs, such as the Government-Assisted Refugees Program and the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Additional Measures for Hong Kong Residents
Canada is also waiving the application processing fees for Hong Kong residents who are currently living in Canada to apply for an extension of stay.
The immigration ministry is also increasing promotional and recruitment efforts to lure Hong Kong youth to study in Canada.
The Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will resume processing of International Experience Canada (IEC) applications for Hong Kong youth, which has been stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with travel restrictions people can still travel to Canada under the IEC as long as they have a job offer.
IRCC will also be advancing super visas for parents and grandparents. This will allow them to come to Canada multiple times over a ten (10) year period for up to two (2) years at a time.
Finally, IRCC has also allocated resources to expedite the processing of Canadian permanent residence applications, including for family sponsorship. Spouses or common-law partners of Canadians who are applying in Canada can file for an open work permit.