Canada and Hong Kong have long had a robust economic relationship, as many immigrants to Canada come from Hong Kong. Over 200,000 people in Canada indicated in the 2021 Canadian census that they were born in Hong Kong. A few years ago, some new laws were enacted in Hong Kong by the government of China. In response to these new laws, on June 30, 2020, Canada announced a temporary public policy creating two pathways to Canadian permanent residence to facilitate the immigration of particular Hong Kong residents. 

Temporary public policy for Hong Kong residents

The temporary public policy created immigration options by which the people of Hong Kong could immigrate to Canada. The policy was enacted to recognize the contributions made by Hong Kong residents to Canada’s economy and society and to promote democratic values. The policy’s goal is to encourage recent Hong Kong graduates and those with work experience to choose Canada as the country where they want to work, study, and settle. This goal can be achieved by allowing Hong Kong residents to become permanent residents of Canada, along with their family members.

Requirements to qualify for the temporary public policy

For Hong Kong residents to be granted permanent residence status in Canada as part of the temporary public policy, they must meet certain conditions that make them eligible. The Hong Kong resident must:

  1. Hold a passport issued by:
  • The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, or
  • The United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
  1. Submit an application for permanent residence with the applicable forms provided by the department in the application package for this public policy or by the electronic means made available on the website of the department;
  1. Attain a level of proficiency of at least benchmark 5 in either French or English for each of the four language skill areas, as set out in the Canadian Language Benchmarks or the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens:
  • This must be demonstrated by the results of an evaluation by an organization or institution designated by the Minister to evaluate language proficiency, and
  • The evaluation must be less than two years old when the permanent residence application is received;
  1. Be physically present in Canada at the time when an application for permanent residence under this public policy is made and at the time of granting of permanent residence;
  1. Have a valid temporary resident status in Canada;
  1. Intend to reside in a province or territory other than the province of Québec; and
  1. Be otherwise admissible to Canada.

All of these conditions must be met for an applicant to be considered for permanent residency.

Pathways available to those who qualify

Two specific pathways were created to help facilitate the immigration of Hong Kong residents to Canada.

Stream A – Students 

The first pathway, called Stream A, applies to those who were students in Canada. To qualify as part of Stream A, potential applicants have to have graduated from a post-secondary-designated learning institution in the three years before the date the application for permanent residence is received. The applicant must have graduated with a degree, a diploma, or a certificate. Further, the program must have been at least 50% completed in Canada, either in person or online. 

Stream B – Workers

The second pathway, referred to as Stream B, applies to those who have been working in Canada. Applicants must have completed at least one year of work experience in Canada in the three years before the application is submitted, have graduated and obtained some proof of graduation, like in Stream A, within the previous five years. 

Instead of being educated in Canada, Applicants under Stream B only need a foreign diploma/certificate/credential and an equivalency assessment indicating that the foreign diploma/certificate/credential is equivalent to a Canadian graduate or post-graduate diploma/certificate/credential. So long as the diploma/certificate/credential is for a program that is at least one year in length, the applicant is eligible for permanent residency in Canada under Stream B.

Family Members of Applicants

Another benefit of this temporary public policy is that applicants’ family members can also be granted permanent residence, provided they meet certain conditions. In most cases, the family member must:

  • Be in Canada;
  • Be included as an accompanying family member in an application for permanent residence by a principal applicant;
  • Meet the definition of a “family member” (spouse, partner, or dependent children); and
  • Not be otherwise inadmissible.

If a family member is outside of Canada, it is still possible for them to join the applicant as part of the public policy. However, an exemption must be granted.

Extension and Expansion of Open Work Permit Program

The temporary public policy is set to last until August 31, 2026. However, this policy is not the only special immigration program the Canadian government created for the people of Hong Kong. In early February 2023, Canada announced an expansion and extension of the open work permit program for Hong Kong residents, which was set to expire. An open work permit allows the holder to find employment anywhere in Canada for the length of the permit. Canada has extended the deadline to apply for the open work permit program and expanded the eligibility to more Hong Kong residents than before.

Under the upgraded open work permit program, those who have graduated within the last 10 years from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad are eligible for an open work permit. The work permits granted under this program will last three years, and those who are part of this program can use the experience to apply to become permanent residents of Canada.

This program will be open until February 7, 2025.  Canada believes this program will help provide skilled labour for Canadian employers while maintaining Canada’s good relationship with Hong Kong. 

Contact Garson Immigration Law for Comprehensive Advice on Canadian Permanent Residency

Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations. The skilled immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and have experience with helping clients apply for work permits and permanent residence. If you have any questions about applying for a work permit or permanent residence, do not hesitate to contact us online or at 416-321-2860.

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