Canada extends work permits for Hong Kong residents

Edana Robitaille
Published: February 6, 2023

Immigration minister Sean Fraser has just announced Canada is expanding its open work permit options for Hong Kong nationals.

Speaking from Toronto this morning, the minister said the existing Open Work Permit (OWP) for Hong Kong residents, which was set to expire today, will be extended an additional two years.

To be eligible, Hong Kong residents must have graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree in the last 10 years, a change from the current requirement of five years, or hold an equivalent foreign credential for which they can get an Educational Credential Assessment. A post-secondary diploma program must be a minimum of two years.

Hong Kong residents currently in Canada temporarily, including visitors, students and workers, can apply online from within Canada. Those applying from abroad remain subject to current travel restrictions and may not be able to come to Canada at this time, unless they have a job offer or meet a travel exemption and comply with all public health requirements. Hong Kong residents who travel to Canada currently need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Get a Free Legal Consultation on Canada's Immigration Programs for Hong Kong

Canada's permanent residence pathways for Hong Kongers

Canada also has permanent residence pathways dedicated to Hong Kong residents who have completed some, or all, of their post-secondary education in Canada. There are two streams:

Stream A offers permanent residence to Hong Kong residents that have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution in the last three years.

Stream B offers permanent residence to Hong Kong residents that have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada or abroad and have at least one year of work experience in Canada.

Under these two streams, principal applicants (the student) may also include a spouse, partner and dependent children.

The principal applicant must have a passport issued by one of:

  • the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China;
  • the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas, as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong.

Hong Kongers in Canada

Hong Kong has always been among Canada's largest sources of immigrants. According to 2021 census data, there were 213,855 immigrants in Canada who selected Hong Kong as their place of birth, putting it among the top five Asian source countries for immigrants in Canada.

Until 1997 Hong Kong was the number one source of immigration to Canada, with up to 30,000 Hong Kong residents moving to Canada each year. Canada has some shared history with Hong Kong as former British colonies, which helped create a strong economic relationship.  In 1997 Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony and was handed back to the Chinese government and numbers dropped significantly.

Data shows Canada welcomed 3,750 new permanent residents from Hong Kong between January and November 2022. This builds on the 2,295 in 2021. Further, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada still welcomed 1,045 permanent residents from Hong Kong in 2020.

Still, there has been a steady increase in study permits issued each year starting from 2015 when 2,095 study permits were issued. This number rose to 6,345 in 2021 and in 2022, 8,705 study permits were issued to Hong Kongers between January and November.

There has also been a rise in the number of work permits issued under the International Mobility Program. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of permits issued rose from 985 to 8,795 in 2022. The 2022 data more than doubles the 4,005 permits issued in 2021.

Get a Free Legal Consultation on Canada's Immigration Programs for Hong Kong

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