On November 12, 2020, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship (IRCC) announced new immigration measures to support Hong Kong Residents and Canadians in Hong Kong. This includes new pathways for Hong Kong youth who want to work and study in Canada, enhancements to existing immigration programs, and changes to the eligibility requirements for pre-removal risk assessments. These new initiatives are intended to support Canada’s 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan and are part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthening ties with Hong Kong in light of China’s recent implementation of new national security laws.
Open Work Permits for Recent Graduates from Hong Kong
IRCC has indicated that eligible Hong Kong residents in Canada or abroad who have recently completed post-secondary studies may apply for an open work permit, which may be valid for up to 3 years. Details regarding specific eligibility criteria and the application process are expected to be released soon.
New Permanent Resident Programs
Hong Kong residents and students in Canada will also benefit from two new PR programs.
First, in 2021, Canada will introduce a new permanent residence pathway for Hong Kong nationals in Canada. Eligibility criteria will include minimum language and education levels in addition to one year of Canadian work experience.
Second, Canada has committed to expediting study permit applications for Hong Kong students who wish to study in Canada and will create a dedicated permanent residence program for these students who wish to settle here.
Both programs will allow principal applicants to include in-Canada spouses, partners, and dependent children in their applications. Full details regarding eligibility criteria and application processes for both programs have yet to be released.
Changes to Existing Programs – Expedited Document Processing and Temporary Fee Waivers
Canada will support Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Hong Kong by expediting documents to allow them to return to Canada at any time. It has also committed to speeding up the processing of permanent resident applications, including family sponsorships.
Temporary residents from Hong Kong presently in Canada will benefit from a temporary fee waiver to renew their status or extend their stay. IRCC has also indicated that it will resume processing of International Experience Canada applications for Hong Kong youth, which has been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notably, all applicants not presently in Canada will still be subject to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions and therefore must be eligible for a travel exemption and abide by the 14-day quarantine requirement.
Changes to Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Eligibility
Individuals from Hong Kong in Canada who have received a final negative decision on their refugee claims or a negative PRRA decision are now eligible to apply for a PRRA if their decision was received between November 13, 2019 and November 12, 2020. Normally, when a person’s refugee claim or PRRA is refused, they must wait 12 months to apply for a PRRA. However, changing country conditions in Hong Kong may put certain persons at risk and warrant a new risk assessment.
If you would like further information on pathways to permanent residence or would like to renew or extend your stay in Canada, please contact our office.