Canada recently announced immigration measures to assist Hong Kong residents and Canadians in Hong Kong.
The new immigration initiatives have been launched to attract Hong Kong students and youth to Canada, offering them the opportunity to obtain a new work permit that opens the door to permanent residence.
In addition, improvements have been made to existing immigration programs that will help Hong Kong nationals stay in Canada, as well as those who want to start planning for their arrival in Canada when the COVID-19 travel restrictions are finally lifted.
A new program to be launched soon will allow Hong Kong residents in Canada or abroad to apply for an open work permit. Eligible candidates must have graduated 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 residents and, youth in particular, to come to Canada to gain valuable work experience.
Two new pathways will be launched in 2021, and they will lead to permanent resident status for Hong Kong residents in Canada.
The first pathway will target Hong Kong residents who meet minimum language and education level eligibility criteria and have gained Canadian work experience.
The government will also expedite study permit applications for eligible Hong Kong youth who wish to study in Canada. Once they complete their studies, these students will be able to apply directly for permanent residence through the second pathway.
Under these new programs, applicants will be able to include spouses, partners and dependent children residing in the country as part of their application.
Hong Kong residents in Canada applying for an extension of their stay are temporarily exempt from the application processing fee.
The Government of Canada will also increase its promotion and recruitment efforts to attract Hong Kong youth to study in Canada. The immigration department will resume processing of International Experience Canada (IEC) applications for Hong Kong youth, which have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong residents to work for any employer in Canada. Even with travel restrictions, individuals can travel to Canada under the IEC as long as they have a job offer.
Finally, Canada has allocated resources to speed up the processing of applications for permanent residence, including family sponsorships. This is a measure that will benefit applicants from Hong Kong.
Express Entry is the most popular pathway to Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry ranks eligible applicants against each other based on human capital factors, and then invites the top-scoring applicants to apply for permanent residency. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) gives candidates points based on their age, education, language skills, work experience and other factors.
Those from Hong Kong may be well placed to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry because of their high level of education and English language skills, which are particularly valuable factors on the CRS.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are another immigration option. More than 240,000 people are expected to get Canadian permanent residence through PNPs between now and 2023.
One of Canada’s main immigration priorities is family reunification. There are a number of immigration programs in Canada that give Canadians the opportunity to sponsor family members to come to Canada.
Each year, the International Experience Class brings tens of thousands of people from more than 30 countries to work in Canada. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong residents to come to work in Canada and change jobs and workplaces after their arrival. To be eligible to take advantage of this immigration channel, you must be between 18 and 35 years of age to apply and a limited quota system is in place.
In response to the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong, Canada has implemented a waiver of the 12-month pre-removal risk assessment rule for Hong Kong residents. With this exemption, some people who were previously ineligible may now be eligible for another assessment before being removed from Canada. Normally, persons whose refugee claim is rejected cannot reapply for at least one year from the date of the decision.
In addition, Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution who have fled to another country may also be eligible under Canada’s existing resettlement programs such as the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program and the Government’s Refugee Assistance Program.
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