Canada recently announced new immigration measures to assist Hong Kong residents and Canadians living in Hong Kong.
The new immigration initiatives have been introduced to attract Hong Kong youths to Canada, offering them the opportunity to get a new work permit that opens the door to Canadian permanent residence.
In addition, some adjustments have been made to existing immigration programs that will help Hong Kong citizens stay in Canada, as well as those who wish to start planning for their arrival in Canada when the coronavirus travel restrictions are finally lifted.
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New pathways for Hong Kong youth
A new immigration program to be launched soon will allow Hong Kong youths in Canada or abroad to apply for an open work permit. Qualified candidates must have completed studies from post-secondary institutions within the last five years.
The work permit will be valid for up to three years and will allow Hong Kong youths to come to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
Two new immigration pathways will be launched in 2021, and they will lead to permanent resident status for Hong Kong nationals in Canada.
The first pathway will target Hong Kong residents who meet minimum language and education level eligibility requirements and have gained work experience.
IRCC will also expedite study permit applications for Hong Kong youth who wish to study in Canada. Once they finish their studies, these students will be able to apply directly for Canadian permanent residence through the second pathway.
Under these new immigration programs, applicants will be able to include partners, spouses, and dependent children living in the country as part of their application.
New measures for Hong Kong residents
Hong Kong nationals in Canada applying for an extension of their stay are temporarily exempted from the application processing fee.
The Canadian government will also increase its promotion and recruitment efforts to bring Hong Kong youth to study in Canada. IRCC will soon begin processing International Experience Canada (IEC) applications for Hong Kong youth, which have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hong Kong is one of the countries that have a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong residents to work for any Canadian employer in Canada. Even with travel restrictions in place, individuals can still travel to Canada under the IEC as long as they have an employment offer.
Finally, Canada has allocated resources to accelerate the processing of applications for Canadian permanent residence, including family sponsorships. This is a measure that will benefit many applicants from Hong Kong.
Canadian economic-class immigration programs
The Express Entry system is the most popular pathway to permanent residence. Express Entry ranks qualified applicants against each other based on human capital factors and then invites the top-scoring applicants to file for permanent residency.
The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) gives candidates points based on their age, education, work experience, language skills, and other factors.
Those from Hong Kong may be well placed to move to Canada through Express Entry because of their high level of education and English language skills, which are particularly critical factors on the CRS.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are other immigration options. More than 240,000 people are expected to get permanent residence via PNPs between now and 2023.
Family reunification is one of Canada’s main immigration priorities. There are a number of immigration programs in Canada that give Canadian citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to sponsor family members to come to Canada.
Canadians can sponsor their spouses or common-law partners, dependents in Canada or abroad through family sponsorship.
Canadians can also sponsor their parents and grandparents for Canadian permanent residence. Next year, Canada aims to welcome over 30,000 applications through the Parents and Grandparents Program.
IEC Working Holiday Program
Each year, the International Experience Class (IEC) brings thousands of people from more than thirty (30) countries to work in Canada.
Hong Kong is one of those countries that have a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong nationals to come to work in Canada and change jobs or workplaces after their arrival.
To be qualified to take advantage of this immigration channel, you must be between eighteen (18) and thirty-five (35) years of age to apply and a limited quota system is in place.
In response to some deteriorating situations in Hong Kong, Canada has implemented a waiver of the twelve (12)-month pre-removal risk assessment rule for Hong Kong residents.
With this exemption, some people who were previously not eligible may now be qualified for another assessment before being removed from Canada. Usually, individuals whose refugee claim is rejected cannot reapply for at least one year from the date of the decision.
In addition, Hong Kong nationals at risk of persecution who have fled to another country may also be qualified under Canada’s existing resettlement programs such as the Government’s Refugee Assistance Program and the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.