Despite the border being closed to travel, immigration to Canada is still possible, and the government has made efforts to ensure that the borders are indeed open to immigration. One such place that has been a focus of the Canadian government is Hong Kong.
There have been some recent developments in Hong Kong that may impact the people of the Chinese Special Administrative Region’s ability to travel. The Hong Kong government last week proposed new legislation that would give its immigration department “unfettered powers” to stop people from leaving the region. Based on the composition of Hong Kong’s legislature, this amendment is likely to pass, and if it does pass it will go into effect on August 1, 2021. So what does this mean for the people of Hong Kong? Some commentators suggest that dissidents and even civilians who have expressed some dissent could be banned from leaving the territory after August 1.
Luckily for people in Hong Kong who may want to leave, the Canadian government directed Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Canada (IRCC) to provide for special measures for residents of Hong Kong to come to Canada. Following events in 2020 such as the imposition and implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong, Canada renewed its commitment to the people by creating special regulations. For Hong Kong residents, time may be running out for you if you intend to leave the Special Administrative Region.
One of the special regulations enacted was a temporary public policy that exempts certain Hong Kong residents from work permit requirements. This public policy was enacted in order to attract educated Hong Kong youth to Canada.
In order for a Hong Kong resident to apply for an open work permit, certain conditions must be met. The individual applying must hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or by the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas. If a work permit is granted, it will be valid for a period of three years, or until the holder’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Therefore, if you are applying for a work permit, make sure that your passport expires more than three years from the date of approval in order to maximize the time allowed in Canada under the permit.
A second condition is that the applicant must have graduated no more than five years before applying for this open work permit. You also must be able to demonstrate that you have earned a degree such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate from a designated post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad, or alternatively a diploma for a minimum two-year program from a designated post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad. For those who received their education outside of Canada and received a degree, you do not need an Educational Credential Assessment (“ECA”) right away, but an immigration officer may request one at a later date. If you were educated outside of Canada and received a diploma, you need an ECA in order to apply for this work permit.
Applying for this work permit is currently done online. In order to apply, you must have a letter of introduction for your open work permit, a valid job offer, and be able to work once you complete your 14-day quarantine in Canada. An open work permit means that the permit is not tied to any specific employer. This means that even the employment used to secure the permit is terminated, the permit holder can seek employment elsewhere in order to remain in Canada.
Residents of Hong Kong have also received other benefits from the IRCC. Aside from the aforementioned work permit program, priority processing is also being afforded to residents of Hong Kong for a multitude of different documents. The documents included in priority processing are:
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We are experts in successfully guiding clients through the open work permit application process. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are also continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.