To meet new immigration policies targeting Hong Kong residents, on Monday, February 8, 2021, The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will start receiving applications for temporary open-work permits under its new Hong Kong Pathway program.
The Hong Kong Pathway program will see several new immigration initiatives introduced through 2021 to help Hong Kong residents come to Canada.
The work permit program opening on February 8, 2021, is open to Hong Kong nationals and other legal residents who completed a post-secondary diploma or degree from a program of two years or more. The credential must have been awarded in the last five years from an accredited institution.
Available to people of any age residing in Hong Kong, Hong Kong nationals residing overseas, and those already in Canada temporarily as visitors, students, and workers; applicants approved under this program will be granted a temporary open work permit for up to three years.
Graduates of a Canadian post-secondary program, either already living in Canada or residing overseas, will undoubtedly qualify. However, it also applies to any post-secondary program procured in any other country as long as the applicant demonstrates that the education completed is equivalent to a Canadian post-secondary education of two or more years. An Educational Credential Assessment from an accredited third-party verification service should be sufficient proof.
Submitting an application
Hong Kong residents currently in Canada may apply online. Those residing overseas, however, remain subject to current travel restrictions. They may not be able to come to Canada at this time unless a job offer has already been arranged or they meet a COVID-19 travel exemption and comply with all public health requirements. Please be aware, though, that travel exemptions and restrictions are amended routinely by IRCC; anyone contemplating travel to Canada should track exemption announcements regularly.
Applicants will also benefit from fast-tracked processing by IRCC.
Furthermore, they will not be barred from entry to Canada if faced with criminal charges at any time under China’s new Hong Kong national security law passed on June 30, 2020, which criminalizes protests and other activities expressive of political opposition.
Ordinarily, any immigrant with a current criminal history is inadmissible to Canada; however, as this security law breaches commitments the Chinese government made in the 1984 treaty to effect the 1997 handover, it is not recognized by Canadian authorities.
While residence status with a work permit is temporary, a work permit holder may leverage prospective residence history and work experience in Canada towards permanent residence for themselves and their immediate family.
An open-work permit allows the holder to engage in any employment contract at any skill level. At this time, if the work permit holder wishes to transition into permanent residence, he or she should ensure to seek employment at a high-skilled level, which is an occupation that requires post-secondary education or formal apprenticeship to hold the position.
One year of employment at the high-skilled level in Canada is a valuable qualifying factor for permanent residence under the current and ongoing Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, or Canadian Experience Class submitted through Express Entry.
The work permit holder may also potentially be eligible for additional programs under the Hong Kong Pathway that will be introduced later in 2021. The first will target Hong Kong residents who already have one year of work experience in Canada with additional programs. The second will target recent graduates from Hong Kong.
As Senior Immigration Consultant, Kieran Verboven leads the Cambridge LLP Immigration Practice Group. He is a member in good standing with the ICCRC, holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and has extensive experience representing Canadian immigration and refugee clients since 2007.
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