On Nov. 12, Canada’s minister for immigration, Marco E. L. Mendicino, unveiled new Canadian immigration support for residents of Hong Kong.
These special Canadian immigration measures ensure that at least some residents of Hong Kong will have a lifeline to Canada should they choose to leave.
The new Canadian immigration support for Hong Kong residents are in response to the national security law that was enacted on June 30, 2020, by the mainland Chinese government. The law criminalizes “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces,” but defines them in vague and nebulous terms.
The Canadian government, along with many other countries, feel the broad definitions in the law undermine human rights, challenge freedom of speech, and self-determination for residents of Hong Kong.
New immigration support measures for Hong Kong residents
Starting in 2021, Hong Kong residents who are graduates of a post-secondary degree, in the last five years, could be eligible for a Canadian open work permit. This permit can be valid for up to three years.
What is interesting about this program is that candidates do not need to have graduated from a Canadian school to be eligible. But they must meet other stringent qualifying criteria that many won’t be able to meet. Eligible applicants need to have at least one year of work experience in Canada and meet minimum language requirements.
The other major news in the Nov. 12, announcement from IRCC is the creation of two new avenues for permanent Canadian immigration for Hong Kong residents. The first will target Hong Kong residents who have at least one year of authorized work experience in Canada. The second will allow Hong Kong residents, who are already studying in Canada, a direct pathway to Canadian permanent residence upon graduation.
New applications for Canadian student permits from Hong Kong residents will also be expedited.
Additional support for Hong Kong residents currently in Canada
The government will also implement special Canadian immigration measures for the thousands of residents of Hong Kong currently in Canada.
Applications for permanent residence, including family sponsorship, will receive priority processing. Canada will also waive processing fees for Hong Kong residents to extend or renew their stay.
The government is also providing additional support for refugee claimants from Hong Kong who have had their cases refused previously.
For Canadians in Hong Kong
There are an estimated 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. For those wishing to return to Canada, the government will expedite any documents they need to return home.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Mendicino would not comment on whether any additional measures were being considered, including the evacuation of Canadians in Hong Kong.
China’s ambassador threatened Canadians living in Hong Kong last month. Saying Canada should not grant asylum to Hong Kong political activists, who he deemed “violent criminals.”