EDITORIAL – Immigration pathways and programs designed specifically for Hong Kong residents have recently been announced in Canada. The implementation of these pathways will help attract candidates who can contribute to Canada’s economic growth while providing an escape for those looking to leave Hong Kong’s turbulent situation.
It is no secret that the pandemic and border closures caused Canada’s immigration targets for 2020 to take a nosedive. One of the ways they are looking to make up for the low numbers is by facilitating the immigration process for Hong Kong residents.
Canada is specifically targeting well educated residents of Hong Kong who are proficient in English or French and have the education and skills to adapt easily to Canada.
With tensions between Hong Kong and China at a high, this is an ideal path for Canada to follow from a humanitarian aspect as well.
On February 8 2021, Canada launched the open work permit program. This permit enables youth in Hong Kong to live in Canada for an extended period of time and get a job from a Canadian employer. Through this program they are able to work and live in Canada eventually making them eligible for permanent residency.
In order to qualify for the work permit, applicants must:
- Have a valid passport that has been issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas (BNO);
- Have a university degree or a diploma from a two-year program within the last five years.
What makes this program so accessible is that residents of Hong Kong who are currently living in Canada can apply online for the permit without needing to leave the country. Individuals applying outside of Canada will be at a slight disadvantage because their arrival will depend largely on what’s happening with COVID and travel restrictions.
A special immigration pathway will also be established for Hong Kong residents who graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution.
Another program announced by Canada will allow qualifying Hong Kong residents to get their permanent residency. More details outlining eligibility criteria and requirements will be forthcoming in the near future.
Finally, in addition to launching these new programs and initiatives, Canada plans on speeding up the processing of applications as well as waiving any applicable processing fees for Hongkongers who are hoping to extend their stay in Canada.
The implementation of these measures and programs will go a long way to help the several hundreds of thousands of HongKongers who have very deep roots and ties to Canada and who are hoping to build a life here.
By fast tracking the immigration process for qualified applicants, Canada is providing compassionate aid to a group in need while also meeting its immigration targets for 2021.