Measures to support Hong Kong residents, including youth, to come to Canada
As part of the whole-of-government response, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is implementing a number of measures that will allow Hong Kong students and youth to quickly come to Canada on work and study permits as well as new pathways to stay permanently. The new permanent residence pathways will also benefit people from Hong Kong already in Canada under existing work and study permits.
We are making enhancements to, and increasing promotion of, existing programs and pathways to support Hong Kong residents who want to study, work, stay or live permanently in Canada, once the travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 are lifted.
IRCC is also speeding up processing of documents for Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents living in Hong Kong, so they can come back to Canada at any time. Family members in Hong Kong of Canadians and Canadian permanent residents may also travel to Canada provided that they meet the exemptions to the travel restrictions. All persons coming to Canada are reminded that they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
These measures complement the actions being taken by Canada’s international partners.
New temporary and permanent pathways for Hong Kong youth
- Canada will expedite the processing of permits for young people from Hong Kong who are eligible and want to come to Canada to work or study. We have already seen an increase in study permit applications in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, and the government will continue to promote this opportunity.
- In addition to the existing work and study options for Hong Kong youth, a new work permit initiative specific to Hong Kong youth will provide open work permits of up to 3 years in duration, with eligibility criteria centred on post-secondary education in Canada or abroad completed in the last 5 years. Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a study or work permit, as appropriate. This initiative is expected to launch soon.
- For those who come here to either study or work, 2 new pathways to permanent residence are being created, which will be available in 2021:
- The first will target former Hong Kong residents who have gained a minimum of 1 year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria such as minimum language and education levels.
- The second pathway will be for those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada. These individuals can then apply directly for permanent residence.
- For both these pathways, principal applicants will also be able to include in-Canada spouses, partners, and dependent children in their application.
- Canada will benefit from these new measures, which will ensure these former Hong Kong residents have the skills and education to integrate well and contribute to our economy.
Additional measures being implemented
- We are waiving application processing fees for Hong Kong residents in Canada on a temporary basis who apply to renew their status to extend their stay.
- IRCC is increasing promotional and recruitment efforts to attract Hong Kong youth to study in Canada and in other program areas, including International Experience Canada. IRCC will resume processing International Experience Canada applications for Hong Kong youth, which has been paused due to COVID-19. Approved International Experience Canada participants can already travel to Canada under the current travel restrictions, provided they have a current and active job offer. Youth-focused programs are important gateways to gaining experience needed to qualify for permanent residence.
- IRCC is also increasing promotion of super visas, which are visas for parents and grandparents that allow for multiple entries to Canada for up to 2 years at a time over a period of up to 10 years.
- As part of business resumption priorities, IRCC has allocated resources to speed up processing of permanent residence applications, including for family sponsorship. This will benefit Hong Kong applicants. Spouses or common-law partners who have applied for permanent residence from within Canada can apply for an open work permit.
For individuals at risk of persecution who are in Canada or in a third country
- Canada supports the right to peaceful protest, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Taking part in peaceful protests is not considered an offence in Canada. Arrests and convictions outside Canada for actions not considered an offence in Canada are not grounds for inadmissibility.
- Foreign nationals in Canada, including Hong Kong residents, continue to have access to our asylum system. All eligible asylum claims are decided based on the individual merits and evidence presented to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an independent administrative tribunal. The IRB is constantly evaluating conditions in asylum-seeker-producing countries and is updating research material to include the latest developments in Hong Kong and ensure that decision makers have access to the most recent information.
- Due to the worsening conditions in Hong Kong that could put some individuals at risk, we have implemented an exemption to the 12-month bar on a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) for Hong Kong residents. A PRRA examines the risk an individual may face if they are returned to their home country. Normally, individuals who receive a negative decision on their refugee claim from the IRB or the Federal Court, or on their previous PRRA application, are not eligible to apply for a PRRA for at least 12 months from the date of their decision. With this exemption, some individuals who were previously ineligible may now be eligible for another assessment before being removed from Canada.
- Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution who have fled to another country may also be eligible under Canada’s existing resettlement programs, including the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program and the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.